The Secret World of Tantric Hatha Yoga: What Is Tantra Yoga?

Steffo Shambo

Updated on Apr 17, 2024
Tantric Hatha Yoga

Most people are familiar with classical yoga, also known as modern yoga.

But what does yoga have to do with Tantra? Isn’t Tantra all about tea light candles and spicing up your sex life?

In fact, no. Candles and sex feature highly on the path of red tantra. Red tantra is about deepening the connection between two people using sexual intimacy and connection. Tantric hatha yoga is more akin to white tantra – the pursuit of mental clarity and inner harmony.

This post will go through how tantric hatha yoga differs from traditional modern yoga. We’ll find out about the various benefits from the practice and how you can feel confident and empowered.

What Is Hatha Yoga?

The word “yoga” literally translates as “yoke” – that thing that joins the necks of the oxen together when they pull a cart.

Akin with yoga philosophy, the word yoga is a metaphor for “union” – the joining together of two opposite things. “Hatha” is made up of two Sanskrit words. “Ha” (the sun), representing movement and heat, and “tha” (the moon), representing healing and coolness.

Hatha yoga is an ancient science, devoted to bringing the body into a state of balance, where it is possible to act in a state of complete calm.

Hatha yoga is a branch of yoga that uses physical techniques to try to preserve and channel vital force or energy. The Sanskrit word हठ haṭha literally means “force”, alluding to a system of physical techniques.

Wikipedia, quoted from James Mallison
tantric hatha yoga.svg

What Makes Yoga Tantric?

So what actually is tantra?

The Tantric tradition is thousands of years old. In contrast with ascetic spirituality, Tantric spirituality views the entire Universe as a manifestation of the Divine. Therefore, any spiritual practice which uses the physical body is a Tantric practice. Hatha yoga and tantra go together like bread and jam. All yoga asana (postures) can be traced back to Tantric roots.

The connection between the physical practice of yoga asana and spiritual practice was obscured when yoga asana came to the West.

Westerners are generally familiar with yoga as a means to stretch the body and move some prana in a yoga class. They don’t realize that it can be a vehicle for reaching altered states of consciousness.

Tantric yoga vs. mainstream yoga

Tantric yoga, considered the original form of Kundalini yoga, embodies the true essence of Hatha yoga, often referred to as power yoga. It surpasses the modern Kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, as well as the studio versions of Hatha yoga. 

True Hatha yoga is intense and not for the faint-hearted. Often, practitioners may find themselves overwhelmed, potentially fainting due to the powerful energy building up in the higher chakras.

Mainstream yoga, in contrast, primarily focuses on stretching and serves as a physical workout. Consequently, it is frequently taught in gyms or studios as a means to stay fit or maintain health. While these benefits are valuable, they were never the primary objective of authentic Tantric yoga.

Real Tantric yoga is dedicated to the movement of energy through the system, aiming to unite the body and mind with universal consciousness.”

What Is Tantric Hatha Yoga?

Tantra-inspired hatha yoga is a hatha yoga practice which has returned to its roots. It is a combination of hatha and tantra yoga. Both exist as separate disciplines. Tantric hatha yoga is a result of their merging and the practitioner’s search for higher states of consciousness.

Any tantric hatha yoga teacher will tell you that the aim is not to become super-flexible. Nor is it to work out. The aim is to still the chattering of the everyday mind. This will bring awareness to more subtle levels of consciousness.

How Tantric Hatha Yoga Differs

If you are familiar with Western forms of yoga, the first difference you will notice with Tantric hatha yoga is the focus on mental concentration. In this way, tantric hatha yoga is similar to raja yoga.

Asana are more for the purpose of meditation than for physical exercise. Each is held for several minutes to allow time for the mind to settle and the effects to be felt.

In tantric hatha yoga, a mudra is often used with each or some asana. Mantra use and chanting is also a key feature of tantric hatha yoga.

What are the Benefits of Tantric Hatha Yoga?

The Physical Benefits of Tantric Hatha Yoga

Although Tantric hatha yoga is not focused on increasing flexibility or strength, it can be a common side benefit.

Certain asana affect the mobility of joints, extend the reach of tendons, and build muscular strength. There are also many asanas which require balance in various positions. The inverted postures like headstand and shoulder stand also have many health benefits.

Participants report an increase in core strength, balance, and flexibility. Annoying aches and pains reduce, the quality of sleep improves, relaxation/recovery becomes easier.


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The Energetic benefits of Tantric Hatha Yoga

The effect of Tantric hatha yoga is to increase the overall energy level, as the body operates more efficiently.

When Tantric hatha yoga refers to “energy”, it is not so much of a phenomenon. The body has a detectable electrical field. This field changes based on heart rate, blood flow, hormones, and many other biological functions.

The practice of hatha yoga directly affects this. Simply focusing the mind on a particular part of the body directly increases blood flow to that area. Practices which compress and then release an area stimulate the flow of lymph fluid. Twisting the neck stimulates the thyroid gland, the source of many important hormones.

The Emotional benefits of Tantric Hatha Yoga

Our emotions are more closely tied in with our physiology than many of us realize. Many Tantric hatha yoga postures encourage opening the chest and pulling back the shoulders. This is a well-known antidote to depression and creates a feeling of confidence and empowerment that stays with you.

Breathing practices, known as “pranayama” (control of the energy) also feature highly. These have an immediate, powerful and noticeable impact on our emotional states. Such breathing practices can also stimulate the release of kundalini energy.

“Other practices move energy upwards from a lower chakra, where it may create lower emotions. Moving the energy to a higher chakra will empower confidence, gratitude, and unconditional love.”

The Mental benefits of Tantric Hatha Yoga

It is easy to see how the modern world, with its encouragement of inertia and poor posture, sets people up for low emotional states. These low emotional states contribute to confusion, indecisiveness, poor memory, and inaccurate self-image.

Traditional tantra tells us that these practices affect the mind directly. They sharpen mental acuity and improve memory and focus. The continual practice of mental concentration develops the mental “muscle” over time. 

This allows you to develop the capacity for deeper concentration. Other practices allow you to expand your awareness to aspects of your thinking that were previously subconscious, and therefore invisible to you.

Some benefits gained from the mental level of tantric hatha yoga include:

  • Alertness
  • Sharpness
  • Clarity
  • Concentration
  • Better memory

Note that the above are common denominators of both hatha and tantra yoga. 

The Spiritual benefits of Tantric Hatha Yoga

Both hatha yoga and tantra will alter you on a spiritual level. The word “Spiritual”, in this sense, refers to your individual experience of the different states of consciousness that are available to us as human beings. 

This includes states which have been referred to as “awakening”, “enlightenment”, “Christ consciousness”, “samadhi”, and “nirvana”.

“Practicing Tantric Hatha Yoga can increase your access to states of acceptance, detachment, gratitude, unconditional love, purity, appreciation of beauty, and non-judgemental observation.”

– Steffo Shambo

What are the top 6 Tantra Yoga Postures?

Here are my best tantric yoga postures:

  1. Shaktishalana Mudra
  2. Uddiyana Bandha
  3. Yoni Mudra
  4. Prasarita padottanasana
  5. Vajrolimudra
  6. Mahamudra

How to Get Started With Tantric Hatha Yoga

Because Tantric hatha yoga has a spiritual and mental focus, the flexibility of your body is not important. Tantric yoga leaves physical yoga to the ashtangis and power yogis.

We encourage participants of Tantric hatha yoga to make use of supports and to attempt easier versions of the asanas. With proper mental concentration, many of the beneficial effects of the asana can be felt. Even when your body is not able to achieve the full version of an asana.

Tantric hatha yoga can be practiced by anyone from the youngest child to the oldest great-grandparent, and there is even tantra yoga for men. It is particularly beneficial for people whose health doesn’t allow them to undertake more physical vigorous forms of exercise.

It’s easy to get started in Tantric hatha yoga – there are no prerequisites. Simply join a class, do the practice, and observe the effects on your body, mind, and emotions. If you find it valuable, keep going. You may have just started a lifetime journey of fascinating discoveries!

Do you want to learn how to master tantric energies and feel it rushing through your body like an electric current? 

Watch my free training to begin your journey. Most of my clients feel a vibration running up the spine and buzzing in their hand and brain after practicing my methods.


Does yoga alliance recognize tantric hatha yoga?

Yes, yoga alliance recognizes tantric hatha yoga as a branch of yoga. There are many yoga schools offering certifications recognized by the yoga alliance.

How old is tantric philosophy?

Tantric philosophy dates back to 400 CE and stems from India.

Is tantric hatha yoga the same as kundalini yoga?

No. Tantric hatha yoga and kundalini yoga are not the same. They are similar and both involve breathwork and breath holds. But tantric hatha yoga involves many more asana.

What is karma yoga?

Karma yoga is not so much a style of yoga as an attitude towards life and a behavioral pattern. Karma yoga is making selfless acts to benefit others.

What is tantric hatha yoga?

Tantric hatha yoga is a combination of physical asana and pranayama (breathwork). In this style of yoga, asana are held for much longer than usual. The purpose of tantric hatha yoga is more for spiritual enlightenment than for physical reasons.

What is anusara school of hatha yoga?

Anusara is a hatha yoga school. Teaching is based on non-dualistic tantric texts.

What does yoga have to do with tantra?

Any spiritual practice that involves the body is tantric. Therefore, yoga is necessarily a tantric practice.

What is tantra yoga really about?

Tantra yoga is about bringing quiet to the mind through mental focus. Eventually, tantric yoga is a gateway to altered states of consciousness.

What are the three bandhas?

The three bandhas are mula bandha, uddiyana bandha and jalandhara bandha. They control the movement of energy up the spine towards the crown chakra.

What is kripalu yoga?

Kripalu yoga is a very gentle approach to hatha yoga. It involves meditation and simple asana. The main premise is for your yoga practice to spill off the mat and into everyday life.

What are the benefits of hatha yoga?

Physical benefits are increased strength and flexibility. Non-physical benefits are balanced emotions, improved mental focus and enhanced energy flow.

Should I go on a tantric hatha yoga retreat?

If you are looking for inner harmony and peace, a tantric hatha yoga retreat is a fantastic idea. It will be a brilliant introduction to the world of tantra and hatha yoga.

Who will benefit the most from tantric hatha yoga?

Everyone will benefit from tantric hatha yoga. As it is a slow, calming practice, those with a vata dosha type (from ayurveda) will benefit most.

What is yoga nidra?

Yoga nidra is a practice in and of itself and an important part of the yoga tradition. It is similar to a guided meditation whereby you enter a state of deep relaxation.

What is a yoga sutra?

The yoga sutras are a set of guidance on how to live life according to yogic philosophy and principles.

What does this have to do with yoga and other meditative practices?

Both hatha yoga and tantra include meditative practices that serve to still the mind. Tantric hatha yoga takes it one step further and brings you to altered states of consciousness.

How is this different from tantra in sexual activity?

Sexual activity is a small (but nevertheless hugely popular) branch of tantra. Sexual tantric practices are aimed at deepening the connection between two partners. Tantric yoga is for the purpose of deepening the connection with yourself.

What is the difference between tantra and hatha yoga?

Tantra is a set of non-dual philosophical concepts. Hatha yoga is a physical practice involving physical postures. When you combine tantra and hatha yoga, tantric hatha yoga is born.

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Steffo Shambo

Steffo Shambo

Men's Tantric Relationship Coach

I am the founder of The Tantric Man Experience™, a pioneering transformational coaching program for men. With over 1500 hours of certified tantra training in India and Thailand and 7 years of experience helping hundreds of men worldwide save their marriages and reignite passion in their love lives.

I have over 8 million views on YouTube and have been featured on VICE and Newstalk Radio for my life’s work - helping men unleash their full masculine potential.

My holistic FLT method seamlessly integrates ancient tantric philosophy with my modern expertise in relationships, sexuality, dating, and men’s health.

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