Bodywork is a major part of many people’s whole-health wellness, from massage to reiki to trigger point therapy. It’s no surprise, then, that bodywork can also have a meaningful impact on your sexual and romantic life — we can show up authentically to the bedroom when the connection between our body and mind is healthy. You may have heard of tantric massage — or the version of it called yoni massage. Here’s how these rich massage traditions can make a difference in your life.
What is tantric massage?
Tantric massage is a form of bodywork grown out of Eastern spiritual traditions, particularly Tantra, which is rooted in Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. Unlike Western massage techniques that primarily focus on relaxing your body by physically manipulating it from the outside, tantric massage aims to promote a harmonious connection between the mind, body, and spirit, incorporating elements we might associate with meditation for mind-body connection.
While we tend to associate tantra with eroticism in the West, it’s important to note that tantric massage isn’t only focused on sexual pleasure, and isn’t a sex act in itself. It’s a yogic tradition that helps support you in being very present in your body, which for some people can be related to sensuality and physical connection.
The actual massage experience involves slow, deliberate, and sensual movements that aim to build arousal and increase sensitivity and awareness of your senses. Rather than harshly kneading out “tension,” it often incorporates long, flowing strokes to awaken and circulate sexual energy.
What is yoni massage?
Yoni massage is a form of tantric massage specifically designed for people with vulvas. The term “yoni” is Sanskrit for the female genitalia, and the practice focuses on slow, focused tantric massage around and on the genital area. Yoni massage shouldn’t be confused with mutual masturbation or a sex act; it isn’t about bringing someone to orgasm. Instead, it’s supposed to allow a present mind-body connection in the sensitive area of the vulva, full of complex muscle and nerve systems.
Yoni massage encourages women to explore sensations and pleasure in a mindful and non-goal-oriented manner. It involves various gentle touches, strokes, and pressures on the external and internal areas of the yoni, aiming to increase sensitivity and pleasure.
Many bodyworkers identify the pelvis and hips as a place where major emotions and traumas “live,” and while the practice of yoni massage is very slow and gentle, some believe it can have powerful effects. Some people may feel an intense emotional release as tension and emotions stored in the pelvic area are addressed. Practitioners believe that releasing emotional blockages can lead to increased well-being and a deeper connection to one’s own body.
Of course, yoni massage entails a very intimate experience that requires a lot of trust. Practitioners should have proper training and embody a trauma-informed approach, and clear communication between the masseuse and recipient is crucial.
Why explore these types of massage?
Many people report some of the same benefits as bodywork — relaxation, relief from tension, better presence and functionality in their bodies, stronger mind-body connection — with a host of extras when they try tantric massage.
Tantric massage can be performed within a couple, with one partner massaging the other; this emphasizes a deep emotional and physical connection between partners. Incorporating the principles of mindfulness, breathwork, and presence can help create a sense of profound connection during the massage that carries forward into the rest of your relationship, creating new heights of emotional intimacy.
Some couples find that the heightened sensitivity and connection from tantric massage can lead to more intense and prolonged sex. And while tantric massage isn’t necessarily a sex act in and of itself, yoni massage can be a great way to get to know a partner’s body, or to work with your partner to learn more about what you both like. Yoni massage can also be enormously helpful for people struggling with anxiety about orgasming or who have experienced past sexual trauma — it can be a really positive and healing experience to have pleasurable touch on your vulva that you aren’t expected to orgasm from or respond to in a particular way.
How do I find a masseuse for these types of massage?
Due to the sensitive nature of these forms of bodywork, it’s important to seek out practitioners with legitimate credentials and professional training. This doesn’t necessarily mean having certifications in tantra or yoni massage specifically — while those certainly exist, it’s hard to know as a consumer which are legitimate and which are hopping on the trend. There is no US licensing regulation for tantric massage specifically, so all tantra certifications are provided by private institutions you’d have to research. Instead, look for people with professional massage licenses, certifications in somatic bodywork, or even physical therapy or sex therapy degrees.
Consider seeking a yoni massage from a professional studio or wellness center with a track record of providing legitimate and ethical services. Studios often have established practices and guidelines to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Remember that professional yoni massage is not a sex act — you shouldn’t expect anything beyond professional contact, and if anything makes you feel uncomfortable or seems beyond what you discussed the massage including, you should feel free to end the massage and leave immediately.
If you’ve found someone you think you’re interested in seeing, it may be a good idea to set up an initial consultation or conversation with the masseuse before committing to a session. This allows you to gauge their professionalism, discuss your expectations, and ensure a good fit prior to an intimate and vulnerable experience.
Clear, direct communication should be a no-brainer in this context — a good tantric masseuse should be able to discuss your expectations, boundaries, and any concerns you may have. Don’t hesitate to ask the masseuse about their experience, training, and approach to yoni massage, and to get a clear outline of what you can expect. A reputable practitioner will be transparent and willing to answer your questions.
How do I learn how to do tantric or yoni massage?
Maybe you and a partner are interested in exploring tantric massage together, or maybe you’d like to explore yonic massage for yourself or future dates. How do you get started?
Like other yogic traditions, it’s possible, though a little challenging, to learn on your own. Think about other kinds of yoga — you can begin doing it alone at home based on YouTube videos, but if you’re a beginner, you may want to attend a class setting so you can ask questions and get realtime feedback.
The best way to get involved in tantra is to look for a real-life class or community, perhaps attached to a yoga or meditation center. Tantra is an entire yogic tradition, not just a set of “moves” with a partner, so learning about it will work best if you can be part of a community that covers these principles. If you’re exploring tantra as part of a couple, the journey of exploration can be part of the journey of growing closer.