If you’ve heard about tantric sex, you might have been told that it involves crazy weird sex positions or sex that lasts an entire weekend long. But these descriptions don’t accurately depict tantric sex or its many benefits—like how it helps you experience deeper pleasure and forge a tighter bond with your partner.
First, it’s important to note where tantric sex comes from. “’Tantra’ is [from] an old Sanskrit language, [and tantric sex is] a very ancient way of being together. Tantra means ‘the weave,’” sex therapist Holly Richmond, PhD, tells Health.
She says her patients view tantric sex as “something almost mystical,” but her definition is a little clearer. “It’s not sex for just sexuality purposes or physiological release—but pleasure and sensuality and being together and taking time [to have sex],” Richmond explains.
All sex is about pleasure, sure, but tantric sex places an emphasis on focusing on pleasure while you’re having sex. Think: mindfulness during sex. You probably already know how beneficial mindfulness is in your everyday life can be, but you might not have thought about how beneficial it can be in bed. Here are five surprising ways tantric sex will shake things up between the sheets.
It takes the performance element out of sex
“Tantra is kind of like the anti-porn,” Richmond believes. While porn isn’t necessarily bad, it can make a person feel like whatever is happening on screen is the sexual norm. This puts the focus of sex off of pleasure and makes it more of a presentation. “Porn is performance-based, [but tantric sex] is all about helping people slow down and get out of this performance mindset,” she explains.
This means not obsessing over what your body is “supposed” to look like and getting into a deeper headspace of thinking and feeling. How can you and your partner achieve this shift? “Start with eye gazing. Sit together so you’re facing each other, holding hands, and gaze into each other’s eyes,” Richmond advises. This moves the focus away from anxious, desire-killing thoughts like, “Am I going to stay hard?” or “What does my cellulite look like?”
It allows you to communicate exactly what you like
As many mindfulness practices do, tantric sex requires concentrating on exactly what you’re experiencing in the moment. Richmond says that you and your partner should focus intensely on exactly what feels good while you’re touching, then letting each other know what strokes you want more of.
“Be as specific as possible,” Richmond advises. For example, you could say, “I love it when you touch me here,” she suggests. You could also note that you don’t like being touched in a certain area. “Focusing on touch—what does his hand on your stomach feel like?” Richmond says. “Get out of your head and into your body—that’s what tantra’s all about.”
Connection is one of the pillars of tantric sex
If you’re looking for ways to bond with your partner more deeply, tantric sex is for you. While fast, carnal quickies are fun, tantra is about getting into positions that require physical closeness and eye contact, so you connect on a more soulful level. “For better connection I almost always recommend positions where you’re facing each other,” Richmond says.
Tantric sex also encourages couples to devote a lot of time to getting it on. “This idea of a deeper connection that’s not just about getting off—it’s about longer sessions,” Richmond explains. As a guideline, she says the minimum amount of time tantric sex lasts is about 15 minutes. The maximum? Some of her clients have reported having tantric sex for “hours and hours.”
Considering the average regular sex session clocks in at seven minutes, this is a drastic increase in time spent having sex with your partner. Think of it as an investment that pays off with a deeper relationship and more intense pleasure.
You get to redefine what sex is
Practicing tantric sex means throwing expectations of sex out the window. “Redefine what sex is. Sex is absolutely not just penetration,” Richmond explains. Before you have tantric sex, don’t focus on what you think you and your partner should be doing in bed. Instead think: “What do you want it to be for you today? Do you want penetration? Do you want to masturbate together?”
Richmond says that often couples simply go through the motions when they’re having sex without stopping to think about what they want to do. Taking the time to figure that out is one benefit that will make your relationship more honest and open.
It can lead to better orgasms
If you’re not already convinced you should give it a try, this might convince you: more and better Os.
It’s not surprising that sex designed to intensify your connection with your partner and help you focus on what feels good might lead to a better finale. Richmond says her patients have confirmed this, telling her their orgasms are more intense during tantric sex. “The orgasms are better, especially if they’re looking into each other’s eyes,” she says.