Yoga is the practical application of the Tantra. Tantric practice without Yoga is not Tantra. In Tantra, there are several types of Yoga seemly weaved together in a practice with many tools and techniques, thus called Tantric Yoga.
As per Tantric text, Shiva expounded 12 forms of Yoga, however, four of them are the Major ones, called Maha -Yoga, and these yoga include several other subtypes. Some of the commonly practiced Yoga in Tantric Yoga is following
There are several tools and techniques used during Tantric Yoga practice, the following are some of the examples
- Hatha Yoga - Includes Prana and Swara Yoga, etc.
- Kundalini / Laya Yoga - Includes Chakra, Nadi, etc.
- Mantra Yoga - Includes Japa, Nyasa, Nada Yoga etc.
- Raja Yoga - Includes Kriya, Devata, Dhyana Yoga etc.
For a practitioner, it is important to first focus on the body purification, then stabilizing and calming the mind. Once body and mind are prepared, next level of practices is introduced to empower the body with more prana (life force) and then gradually make the body capable to awaken kundalini energy systematically. The final goal is spiritual awakening, however like the impact of the practices can be described at three levels
- Dharana (Concentration)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Rituals (very specialized)
- Bhavana (Cultivating feeling)
- Puja (Worship)
- Diksha (Initiation)
You may use these practices just for staying fit and healthy. The practices can be used as proactive measures as well as for therapeutic purpose depending on needs. Majority of people simply benefits at this level the moment they begin their practice.
2. Mind: Once energy is properly regulated using some asana and pranayama. You are ready for next stage practices focused around mind e.g. meditation practices. It helps to relieve the stress and rejuvenates the whole being, as body and mind are strongly connected.
3. Spirit: The continued practice starts to give spiritual experiences, which can be only experienced by the regular and dedicated practice. This experience can vary from person to person depending on their practice. There is no shortcut.
Tantra says – your body is a universe unto itself. “What is here is everywhere, what is not here, is nowhere”. So, if you know and understand how to systematically “enter” your body and harness its powers, your body can be a launching pad for spiritual awakening.
Popular Yoga vs Tantric Yoga
Majority of popular yoga classes are asana based classes, some may include simple pranayama. These yoga classes may vary in styles –focusing on body alignment, slow or fast transition from one pose to another, gentle or vigorous in intensity or for physical fitness, some may use a heated room and other variations. But overall it is more geared towards posture centric practice. But a holistic and tantric approach to yoga is slightly different, the practice will include different components (as mentioned above) along with asana, pranayama, and meditation to gradually connecting the practitioner with their body, mind, and spirit.
Finding a Teacher
It is easier to find a lot of teachers who teach body-centric yoga, mostly asana based practices around the world, some are famous celebrities as well. But it is also a known fact that many of them have not gone beyond the physical practice. On the other hand, there are many great meditation teachers available but relatively in a smaller proportion, and some do not even bother practicing physical aspect of yoga. Each one has their own reasons. However, common sense dictates that a good health needs both - healthy body and healthy mind. So it is important to practice both, and once you are ready at body and mind, the practice will spontaneously unfold and will take you to the level of spirit with correct guidance from a good teacher.
So the bottom line is depending on your desire and goals, find a teacher who is suitable for your need. A teacher who can guide you at all levels is not easy to find and but they do exist, may not be popular.