How tantra is changing sex for over-50s

If you thought that tantric sex was something for hippies or frisky young couples then think again. Tantra is transforming sex lives everywhere and it's older women who are leading the charge.

Unlike couples in their thirties, couples in their fifties, sixties and beyond don’t have the stress of raising kids and paying the mortgage to weigh them down. This makes it the ideal time to try a new style of lovemaking – one that requires a much slower approach.

The origins of tantra are steeped in Eastern philosophy, it has been around in different forms for thousands of years. Today in the West, it is simply a way of having sex that offers greater connection and value.

“Tantra is about meaningful love making,” says sex therapist Jacqueline Hellyer, who has run over 75 tantra workshops in the last 10 years.

Tantra is a ‘mindful’ approach to sex, and in contrast to ‘conventional’ sex, tantra is not about performance.

“It’s not about getting your rocks off, and racing towards an orgasm – it’s about creating a true connection,” Hellyer explains.

You don’t need to worry about new positions, “it’s about ‘how’ you do things rather that ‘what’ you’re doing,” says Hellyer.

Hellyer notes that conventional sex is like a three course meal, “you have a starter, main and desert,” but tantra is like a picnic.

“You can go straight for desert or just have the dip – tantra allows you to pick and choose rather than sticking to a set menu.”

Tantra is a totally different approach to sex, because the objective is to create a quality experience rather than stimulating each other to a climax.

Hellyer says that most of us were brought up with a Victorian model of sex in which “men have their needs” and “women service” their men. Tantra turns this around and focuses on the woman’s pleasure. “Men get pleasure from the pleasure the woman is getting,” Hellyer explains.

Because tantra focuses on the woman, Hellyer says that women will experience greater heights of sexual ecstasy than they have during ‘conventional’ sex.

Musician Sting, and his wife Trudie Styler, were long regarded as the public face of tantric sex.

Women practicing tantra start to tune in to subtleties and intensities during lovemaking that create an ecstatic “whole body experience”, which Hellyer says their partner will experience as well.

The biggest benefit that comes from tantra is the strength it will add to your relationship, says Hellyer.

“During tantra you learn to truly relate to your partner with honesty, openness and vulnerability,” she explains. This is a great foundation for what Hellyer describes as “really beautiful lovemaking”.

When you experience “beautiful” lovemaking, you release lots of “happy” hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin, into your blood stream, which Hellyer says will make you “feel good.” And because tantra creates an on-going connection, these hormones are constantly being released.

Tantra also offers some health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing stress and fatigue.

63 year old Megan Chapman has been learning tantra with her husband Brian for the last two years. She says that it has been a “very powerful” experience.

“Tantra has given sex a completely different meaning,” says Megan.

Brian is Megan’s second husband, and although they were “ideally suited” for one another, Megan felt that their sex life was lacking something.

“Sex was a bodily dance, you know the steps, but you don’t think about it any more than that,” she explains.

After doing some research on-line Megan and Brian enrolled in a series of tantra workshops in Sydney.

“It was a little awkward when we first arrived, but it was obvious that we were in a classy and ‘sleaze-free’ workshop, so we soon felt at ease,” says Megan.

During the workshop couples go through a series of exercises that help them connect with each other, such as light massage and holding one another. Megan says that the workshop was “practical, liberating, inspiring, encouraging and fun”.

Like many people exploring tantra, Megan says that it has been life changing.

“It has been like a spiritual journey, and I’m really pleased that we’re making it. It’s like we’ve started a whole new life.”

So what’s the first step? Since tantra is all about creating a meaningful connection, the first step is to learn to relate to your partner with “honesty and openness”.

“You don’t even need to take your clothes off,” says Hellyer. “It’s all about connection and energy.”

Hellyer’s advice is to build a greater sense of intimacy by spending quality time with your partner. A good start is to learn how to meditate together, or by simply gazing into each other’s eyes and breathing together.

Hundreds of books have been written about tantra, so you’ll be able to find one that suits you.

There are also lots of resources, such as tutorials and e-books, available to download on the internet. Hellyer’s website offers a host of information including podcasts and blog posts and is a great place to start.

There isn’t a governing body for tantra, so Hellyer’s advice is to check the qualifications and experience of the course leader before enrolling.

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