Tantra yoga involves the philosophy that explains the creation and existence of the universe and everything in it. While many mistakenly believe that Tantra yoga is the practice of sexual acts in a spiritual manner, Tantra yoga actually involves “a deeper understanding of the web of life that pervades all,” according to Radjami Tigunait, spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute.

In Tantra, the creation of the universe as we know it is explained as an “explosion” that separated Shiva (divine consciousness) from Shakti (creative energy). Tantra yoga practices are an effort to unite the energies of Shiva and Shakti in order to understand our true nature—that we are all one.

Tantra yoga involves practices that help to awaken the kundalini energy at the base of the spine. It travels up the spine through the chakras to the crown of the head at Sahasrara chakra, where Shiva and Shakti energy once again unite and consciousness is awoken. In this state, the individual recognizes his or her true nature. The control of prana, or pranayama, is an integral part of Tantra practice because prana controls energy flow.

According to Tantra, the human is a mini universe—a microcosm within the macrocosm. All that exists within the universe (the five elements—earth, water, air, fire, ether) also exists within us. Tantra’s goal is to recognize that we are all the same. Tantra philosophy views the body not as an obstacle to enlightenment, but rather as a tool to facilitate enlightenment. Tantra is “a system to lead the aspirant to pure consciousness. The entire universe is the manifestation of this consciousness and the human being is a miniature universe that parallels the whole of the external manifestation,” according to Swami Rama, founder of the Himalayan Institute.

Tantra yoga is a branch of yoga that helps us to understand the universe and our place in it. As with the other branches of yoga, Tantra can be practiced along with other branches of yoga. Each branch essentially leads to the same destination—a greater understanding of our true nature.