Tantra and Desire

12 april 2017 | Av Sarah Platt-Finger

What is desire? And how do we find space to see our true desires? Sarah Platt-Finger helps us understand desires from a tantric perspective and how they are connected to our chakras. She also explains the concept of Gunas in this inspiring blog post that takes us into the world of yoga philosophy. I would love for you to come practice with me, and my husband Alan Finger, at Yoga Games Gothenburg on May 26-28. 

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.  As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." – Upanishads

The feeling of completion of desire is Samadhi. Yet, the concept of desire has traditionally been admonished from a religious standpoint.  Ascetics strived to master their mind as a means to control or obliterate their desires completely.  There are stories of the Buddha exposing himself to the harshest elements and going for days without food as a means to transcend beyond the human want for pleasure.  From a Tantric perspective, desire is what drives us to connect with a higher intelligence.  Isn’t there an element of desire to attempt to transcend all desires?  Governed by the water chakra, svadishthana, our desires are primal and innate in our being.  Without desire we would not procreate and the human race would cease to exist.  But how can we know that our desires are for our highest good and purpose in life? That is where the power of yoga and meditation lie.

The Gunas
In yoga, we talk about the gunas as being the qualities of nature that make up all things:

  • Rajas is volition, or the activating force that propels us forward. Think: the inhalation, the future, and the front passage of the body.
  • Tamas is inertia, or the pacifying force that draws us inward.  Think: the exhalation, the past, and the back passage of the body.
  • When we are in complete harmony, or balance, we are in sattva guna. This is represented in the kumbaka (the pause between the breath) the present moment, and the central line of your spine, or Brahma nadi.

Everything in life is affected by the gunas,: our diet, our relationships, our posture, even our communication.  Sattva is the pure space that aligns us with spirit . When we rest in that space we are connected to the unified field of consciousness that is all around us. 

Through the practice of yoga and especially meditation, we fine-tune our connection to Brahma nadi.  It is like an antenna that interprets and filters the intelligence of the universe into our physical body via our consciousness.  That is why the more we practice, the more our desires shift.  

Creating the space to see our true desires
It is always amazing to watch in our Teacher Training program, how midway through the course people tend to make huge lifestyle changes: they change their careers, they decide they want to move to a different part of the country, or they cultivate new relationships.  That is because the work they are doing is connecting them to that central chord on a regular basis.  Being in sattva guna gives us the space to see what our true desires are and to respond to them from the spirit, rather than react to them from the ego. 

Rumi said: “What you seek is seeking you.” We all have our own unique, deep-rooted aspirations that propel us forward.  It is what causes us to make the decisions we make in life, from the most simple, like the clothes we wear, to the most complex, like our career. That force is called karma and it shapes our life’s purpose. When we keep the channel of brahma nadi clear, we are able to honor our deepest desires and use them as seeds to manifest the life that we are meant to live, our soul’s calling. 


Our Desires and The Chakras
From a subtle energetic perspective, our existence is made up of five main elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. The chakras are the headquarters of those elements that exist in our physical body. They govern everything from our posture, to our emotions, to our glandular system and of course, they affect our desires. The earth chakra (muladhara) governs our survival and relationship to the material world.  Too much rajas and we become excessively concerned with material things; too much tamas and we reject our survival needs. When in balance we are able to listen and respond to our physical desires appropriately. The second chakra, water or svadishthana, is where true desire stems from as this region governs our likes, dislikes, sensuality, and sexuality.  Too much rajas in this locale and we become lascivious; too much tamas and we subscribe to the “no gain, no gain” approach.  When we are balanced in this chakra we can respond to our desires gracefully and without attachment.

The third chakra is the fire center, or manipura chakra.  This is where our sense of individuality and independence stems from.  Our desire to be autonomous, to stand for a cause, and to empower ourselves is governed by this chakra.  Too much fire and we are driven by the need to dominate. Too little fire and we disempower ourselves by putting other people’s needs and desires ahead of our own. 
The fourth chakra is the heart chakra, anahata, and relates to the element of air. Here is where we start to connect to our feelings and harmonize our relationships in the world.  Our desire for connection, belonging, and love is governed by this center.  Too much rajas and we force relationships.  Too much tamas and we reject people’s offering of love and kindness towards us. 

The fifth and final elemental chakra is the throat or vishuddha chakra, governed by the space element. This is our communication center and the vortex that influences our desire to express ourselves.  When we are sattvic in this area we can communicate with honesty and clarity, knowing our own truth.  When we are rajasic, we speak excessively to fill the discomfort of silence. When we are tamasic, we are unable to voice ourselves, doubting what we have to say as meaningful.   

A common saying in Tantra is “We use the floor to get up off the floor.”  We use what is available to us on this plane of existence: our body, our breath, our mind, and our desires, to transcend beyond the limitations of this realm.  They are all made accessible to us in order to connect to the unbound field of potential that lies within: the inner guru. The inner-knowing.

Yoga Games Gothenburg

Meet Sarah along with other really amazing teachers in Gothenburg on May 26-28 - find them all and book your tickets here

Get a discount! 
When booking tickets for both Saturday and Sunday at Yoga Games Stockholm you get a SEK 300 discount if you use the code YOGOBE.

Sarah's classes at Yoga Games 

Saturday: Stoking Your Inner Fire 
A workshop to help cultivate and harness the fire element through asana, pranayama, and meditation.
Manipura chakra is the energetic center located at the navel that relates to the element of fire in our being. It translates to “lustrous gem” because when this chakra is in balance we radiate and glow from inside. In this workshop Sarah will integrate physical postures and breath techniques to help stoke this inner fire and tap into the power that lies within. It is from this source that we learn to trust in ourselves and in others, leading to transformation, manifestation, and unbound potential.

Sunday: ISHTA Sweat and Samadhi
Asana Class & Meditation
Samadhi is the state of yoga, or pure consciousness. This state is our true nature and birthright.In this workshop, we will burn out the impurities trapped in the physical body through a strong asana practice, including kriya techniques, led by Sarah Platt-Finger. This powerfulsession will be followed by a series of yin/restorativepostures, which will calm the nervous system and quiet the mind. The practice will close with pranayama techniques and an 18-minute meditation, to facilitate a connection to universal intelligence and unbound potential.

Sunday: Mudras, Bandha, and Kriya
3-hour Intensive Workshop with both Sarah and Alan finger! 
Mudras, bandhas, and kriyas are Tantric tools that enable the Shakti, or Mother Nature force, to move back to Shiva, All Intelligence. Mudras are hand gestures that link energetic circuits in the body. Bandhas are physical locks that redirect energy in the subtle body. Kriyas move energy from the subtle body back to the causal body, or to essence. Through asana, pranayama, and meditation techniques, Alan and Sarah will explain how to use these tools to purify the consciousness, bringing one back to a state of unbound intelligence, bliss, and wisdom.

Video recommendations

5 min

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Get to know the meaning behind the concept of tantra.

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A lecture with Alan Finger.

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Yoga class: Release tension get more flexible. stretches and twists, with Sarah Platt-Finger.

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Yoga class: Pitta reducing ayurvedic sequence, with Sarah Platt-Finger.

Sarah Platt-Finger

Sarah is a Mother, Yogiraj, and Co-founder of ISHTA Yoga, LLC. She travels the world teaching classes, leading workshops and trainings.

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