Last week I met Bara , a tantric massage therapist, somatic bodyworker and naturopath based in NW London. I wanted to watch her pleasure a man so we arranged a two-hour session with a mutual friend who practises tantra. Hopefully I would learn a trick or two to pass on.
Tantra is often misunderstood – most people think of Sting and marathon sex sessions and articles in the mainstream press about massages with ‘happy endings’ don’t help either. Tantric massage is all-inclusive and involves the genitals but as a means of extending sexual energy throughout the body, a way to fuse sex and spirit. I see it as a lifestyle or philosophy, which uses sexual energy to attain a mind, body and spirit connection with yourself and another. Sexual energy is the most powerful life force, it’s where we all come from, and it can help you manifest and create the life you want, if you know how to use it mindfully. Tantra is about being present and using conscious touch to create a deeper self-awareness and inner peace.
Benefits of tantric massage
Tantric massage has numerous health benefits including stress relief, chakra balancing (your body’s energy points), deep relaxation, increased sexual confidence and intimacy, physical nourishment, getting in touch with your body, and enlivening your senses. It can help resolve premature ejaculation by teaching a man how to control his penis rather than vice versa – techniques can help him build sexual energy and separate ejaculation and orgasm. He will learn when his ‘point of no return’ is so that he can stop stimulation before that time. This can increase sexual confidence, intimacy and lead to a full body orgasm when he does decide to come. It can also introduce a man to prostate massage, which is deeply pleasurable, healthy, and increases testosterone production and prostate vitality.
Bara describes the hormones produced during sexual arousal as the real ‘elixir of youth’. ‘By prolonging the arousal state in pleasure, you bathe your cells in youth-maintaining hormones’. I’ll have some of that. Physical benefits aside, tantric massage is a delicious ritual and a gift to yourself in a busy world. You will learn how to utilise your body’s erotic energy to take yourself into an elevated state of awareness and this can have a profound, healing impact on your life and relationships.
The tantric temple
Bara has a warm, inviting boudoir, beautifully decorated with fairy lights, a Buddha, candles, comfy chairs and a double futon on the floor. I warmed to her immediately and the space felt safe, nurturing and professional. Nigel arrived about 15 minutes later, hyperactive and stressed, so the first part of the session was about getting him present, out of his head and into his body. She did this through eye contact, synchronised breathing and talking to him about where he was at physically and emotionally. She then asked him to undress and gave him a white sheet to wrap around his waist.
First came the caressing or ‘sweeping the day off’ strokes whilst he was still wearing the sheet to give him time to adjust. Then some synchronised breathing and gentle movement to music so that he could arrive in his body. She then untucked the sheet and asked him to lie face down on the futon. He needed grounding so she lay still on top of him for a moment with no suggestive movements. ‘This is really pleasant for many people and a great way to connect with the therapist,’ she says.
She used a large black feather to stroke up and down his skin then a pair of furry mittens to change the sensation. Then a cloth soaked in hot water, which was pressed and held onto his skin to release muscle tension. His eyes were closed so he had no idea what was coming next and the different sensations were a pleasant surprise. She then applied (lots!) of massage oil, pre-warmed in a flask of hot water. She started on his back using firm, rhythmic strokes along the chakra points from root to crown to align the energy and get things flowing.
I found the massage hypnotic and erotic to watch – the ritual of it, unhurried and devoted to the body. I saw him softening and opening with her touch. She spent a good hour working on his back, easing out knots and tension from scalp to toes. She also used her breath from time to time to blow on his skin – introducing hot and cold. We tend to hold lots of tension in the buttocks and it’s often a neglected area with unexpected potential for great pleasure. She spent extra time here pressing and kneading. She wore silky pink nitrile gloves to massage his perineum and around the anus, which are the closest texture to skin ‘you can hardly feel them’.
‘At this point you would give him a prostate massage if he asked for one,’ she said, which involves inserting your index finger into the anus and pressing downwards to reach the prostate (when he is lying on his front) and massaging the prostate, which lies an inch or so inside and feels a bit like a small flattened plum. Massaging the male g-spot can give a man deep physical and emotional release.
She finished with a series of fast strokes along the chakras to build up energy (fire and water) followed by slower, sensual ones to relax him into receiving. He then turned over so the massage could continue on his front.
The genital (lingam = ‘wand of light’) massage takes place once the whole body is energised and relaxed. This creates a circuit for sexual energy to move meaning so that it isn’t just felt in the genitals. Bara began by pressing firmly on his genitals and then massaged his inner thighs, penis, scrotum and perineum. She explained that it doesn’t matter whether the penis is hard or flaccid and I noticed his erection came and went during the session. ‘The pleasure is just as intense as with a fully erect penis but it has a different quality. It has been described as more erotic and stimulating when the penis is fully erect and hard and more nurturing, loving, caring and relaxing when the penis is flaccid’.
‘This is when the ego gets exercised and there is time to get conscious about ‘performance anxiety’. However, there is no goal, no need to perform or be a ‘man’ – he just needs to give himself permission to relax into the pleasure. He needs to know he is not being judged or expected to act a certain way. You are accepted and embraced in any shape or form in tantra, to see the god or goddess within you’.
Bara gives clients the option to come and asks where they are on a scale of 1-10 with the ‘point of no return’ being 9. If they are close to orgasm and don’t want to come she’ll focus her touch elsewhere to allow the energy to disperse and build again. ‘If a man or woman decides to have an orgasm I give them the option to experience ‘the big draw’ – this is a technique to achieve orgasm without ejaculation (for women it’s a full body orgasm). It is done around the ‘point of no return’ by combining a powerful breathing sequence, short and intense muscle clench, stimulation and visualisation. If all of that is synchronised correctly, we reach full body energy orgasm. We are ‘drawing’ the orgasmic energy inwards through the genitals and upwards into our channel of chakras and whole body. So, keeping all of that delicious build up inside the body instead of discharging it. This is highly nourishing for the body and soul and that’s when we feel the connection with God. It lasts much longer than our usual 8 seconds,’ she says. ‘In tantra, that’s what the legendary Nirvana is and it can go on and on…’
She showed me several techniques for massaging the penis – ‘round the clock’ involves pressing the penis upwards to 12 o’clock and moving it around the clock. (‘Ooh, it’s four o’clock now…’). She twisted the head as if unscrewing a jar, focusing on the frenulum – the sensitive v-shaped area at the back of the head. She touched his forehead at the same time as massaging the tip of the penis to link up the two energies. It’s thought that the penis has its own mini chakras, which work along the same lines with the crown and foreskin being connected to the third eye and higher consciousness. Nigel explained that John Hawken (http://www.thetantricpath.com) believes that circumcision is carried out to prevent a direct connection with the divine and make people reliant on a priestly caste. So the rabbis stay in a job, effectively. If you can’t reach God on your own you need help and this creates a job for someone.
Bara finished with more effleurage from head to toe to integrate the massage. ‘A few minutes rest is vital to help him digest and land’. It ended as it began with a mutual Namaste in standing position.
So, although it uses sexual energy this isn’t a ‘sexual’ massage in the traditional sense as it’s not goal-orientated or about ‘happy endings’ as we are led to believe, if done properly and respectfully. I wasn’t sure whether Nigel had an orgasm – he didn’t appear to and seemed to channel the energy in other ways. He looked softer, unwrapped, in his feminine energy and was very communicative after the massage. ‘God, I needed this.’ The therapist acts as a facilitator or conduit for energy work and enables deep healing and transformation. They both said that tantric massage is about a surrender of ego, non-attachment to goals and just being present in the moment, in the body. Although I hadn’t been massaged, I had experienced it by proxy and benefited from the flow of energy and heart opening. I felt much calmer and more loving afterwards so I imagine the effect on Nigel was profound. And yes, I learned a trick or two about how to pleasure a man. Bara is a natural teacher and explains things in a simple, down to earth manner so I think a couple’s session with her would be highly informative and a lot of fun.
10 days later
‘The massage was healing and cleansing. I was very grounded afterwards and it got me to where I ought to have been. I was in a hyperactive, stressed state when I arrived because my wife and kids had delayed my departure and made me late. Since then I’ve been pretty bloody grounded, even natured and on an even keel.
‘I didn’t come close to having an orgasm or experience it as having to exercise any control whatsoever. In terms of sexual excitement I reached around 4/5 out of 10. I think when you’ve done a lot of tantra the control becomes so natural it’s no longer active control and you can do it without conscious thought. I was in such a deep state of relaxation, in touch with my body and am experienced with this type of massage so it felt effortless. You are conscious of the pleasure but it doesn’t require effort to control it when you are aware, relaxed and experienced.
‘However, the last time my wife Sophie had a tantric massage from Bara, she went for the BIG orgasm, so it’s about choice and it isn’t prescriptive. Sophie chose to have an orgasm while I chose to channel the energy in other ways. What tantra does is to give you the freedom and flexibility to choose. There’s nothing wrong with the classic sexual experience of building sexual energy and then dissipating it in an orgasm, but the inability to experience sexual energy in any other way is very limiting.
‘Tantric massage can also have different effects depending on where you start from. It got rid of my depression when I was low energy and left me energised so you may see someone in a flat state being energised and walking out on a buzz, maintaining that feeling a few days later.’
Bara offers tantric massage sessions in Camden, London from £100 per hour. She coaches couples in the art of conscious touch, pleasure and ritual and enjoys working with pregnant women to help prepare the body for birth. See www.tantrawaves.co.uk or call 07788 141381.