A First Taste of Tantra…

Via on Sep 30, 2011
Image by Shahram Sharif via Flickr.jpg

As of date posted, I’m into week two of my 500 hour yoga training program with Devanadi Yoga. This “teacher training” is not so much about teaching than it is about me and my personal development. I don’t mean that in a selfish way, but in a trusting way. If this Yoga is in me first and God directs it to express in teaching, then that’s great! But I enrolled in this training first and foremost to keep moving on the path to allow direction. To…surrender to direction.

And based on class discussion this week, I trust I’m on the right path. I’ve read about Tantra, been intrigued and interested I guess…but not really getting it. Put in relation to what I know, laid out as a comparison in a class setting, I finally tasted the tang of a tangible-for-me “gist” of Tantra.

Below is an excerpt from my personal journal regarding our teacher’s lecture on Tantra Yoga vs. Classical (Patanjali/Sutras) Yoga.

Today’s talk is bringing so much insight, and excitement. I’ve practiced and studied Classical Yoga for going on 7 years now. Harnessing the mind, the body, cultivating discipline, control, suppression, etc. Working IN the ego-frame to try to get OUT of the ego-frame. Unfortunately, when I began yoga, I was totally unaware of the ego-frame and it took over many aspects of my life. Over time, I’ve continued to use the ego to try to control the ego. Disciplines stacking on top of disciplines. Regulations and rules simply shifting back and forth, but keeping me bound and attached.

This is/has been way out of balance. With a nasty personal relapse again this year, I see that this cycle is broadening my awareness, and the disciplines are bringing knowledge, but still…it’s a cycle, and I’m stuck in it.

Why did I start yoga in the first place? Well, it was a way to burn more calories. Yoga was a workout. (My first class had the word “boot camp” attached.) It was also something I was “good” at. I could do the poses, I was flexible, strong, and got a lot of praise from others in class for these things. I became ego-attached to yoga-asana. Not uncommon, but I want out, ha! This was my first taste of yoga, but not why I continued the journey into yoga philosophy, teaching, and living. I continued because I want to heal and be whole…to fill the hole that ego took over with God Spirit instead.

Tantra, from what I gathered of my first taste, is the path of surrender. For the love of God, (literally!), this is where I’ve been trying to go. But I’ve been using the framework of Classical Yoga for years. I’ve been talking about surrender. Writing about it. TRYING to wrap my mind around how to surrender, etc. Considering the concepts and ideas of surrender. Exploring ways and means to surrender. But still, I haven’t really DONE IT in a big way at least. Now, I learn that there is a yoga structure, a path for this. Something tangible. A ways and means that will draw me out of the control cycle that I cultivated through my own practice of Classical Yoga. It isn’t just one of the Niyamas here. Tantra is a journey of submitting to the flow of God. I’m excited to learn more about Tantra practices and philosophy to continue to foster this environment of surrender.

(See how many surrender links I ridiculously included? Obsessed. With. Surrender.)

My thoughts at first considered these paths practiced concurrently as seemingly confusing. Classical Yoga promotes control, harnessing and withdrawal of the senses, observation, dualism, a lot of (for me) physicality but with a discipline and an aim to exceed the body and the world. Tantra, on the other hand, purposes to embrace the senses, the body, and the world. Because, well…we are here, we have theses senses and this body…and we also have this God-inside and the ability to connect to the Divine Consciousness that will guide us in usage of body and senses, and direct our actions in the world…if we open up to it. So which is right?

No right, no wrongI would say, different strokes and all.

But, it seems to me almost as if Patanjali’s system is, in my case at least, a precursor to the Tantric path. The culmination of the 8 limbs practice is Samadhi, but with the underlying premise of Isvara-Pranidhana—surrender to God. So, once the disciplines and awareness are established, one realizes the need to move OUT of that cycle of self-control and into Self (I read: God) flow. Blindness can prove dangerous, and an attempt to surrender to God without awareness of ego, well, see my “start story” above. It can lead to unknowing ego-surrender instead. So Classical Yoga, as part of my path, has seemed a bit of a double-edged sword…but a major part of this journey.

Enter Tantra?

Well, Tantra knocked and I signed up for this training…after learning these differences between Classical Yoga and Tantra, and examining my life, I can’t help but believe, TRUST, that my God-inspired intent and desire to surrender has been answered once again with this new information and the start of a new/different yogic direction.

*Originally formatted and posted at http://yogiclarebear.com/

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About Clare Polencheck

Clare L. Polencheck is a yoga instructor and portrait photographer in Minnesota. With an open mind and eager heart, she strives to live and write from a Christian-Yogic spiritual perspective, and is humbled to share tidbits of her lessons as a teacher of asana, a student of her students, and a pupil of Universe. Learning to go with God’s flow is her goal and mantra.

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10 Responses to “A First Taste of Tantra…”

  1. Tantra has resonated with me a lot more than Classical yoga. I don't like the "trying to change" attitude that classical philosophy brings. Tantra has so much more acceptance of where you are and beauty in it! It does fill the gaping hole that Anorexia leaves behind.

  2. Good article, Clare. I don't use the term, because the whole point is to avoid specialized terminology, but Yoga Demystified: The Six Big Ideas is based more on Tantra ideas than "Classical Yoga" ideas.

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    • yogiclarebear says:

      Thanks a ton Bob. I understand what you are saying about the "terminology." For now, the words are what I have to go on…for understanding and distinction, etc. I won't get attached! ;) ;)

      • Hi, Clare. My sentence was very unclear. I didn't mean that there is any problem at all with terminology in general, and most certainly not with your terminology.

        I meant to say avoiding specialized terminology was the objective of Yoga Demystified. Only that and that alone.

        I should have written, "My whole point in Yoga Demystified was to avoid specialized terminology".

        Bob

        • yogiclarebear says:

          No worries Bob, I hear ya! And, I'm excited to read The Four Desires as part of my training program…just started this morning.

          • Rod Stryker has been my spiritual hero ever since I first became interested in Yoga philosophy. No, make that, he's one of the two people who sparked my interest in Yoga philosophy in the first place (the other being Stephen Cope).

            So it's not surprising that when I did the first reading for the Four Desires virtual book club that I loved it and that it's familiar.

            Bob W. Editor
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