Urban Tantra

Book by Celestial Arts

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The New Age is Sexy

Urban Tantra is a wonderful introduction to Tantra for everyone - rural or urban, queer, straight, trans, cis, man, woman, disabled, and every ethnicity. It is a fair-minded, intelligent, modern take on the ancient tradition of Tantric sex, in which you use your mind and your lungs to expand your sexuality. The New Age aspects, like chakras and sex magic, may be hard to swallow, but it is fully worth it for the erotic awakening that Barbara Carrellas's Urban Tantra holds.
Published:
Pros:
Eye-opening, comprehensive, inspirational, well-written.
Cons:
Sometimes a touch New-Agey.
Rating by reviewer:
5
extremely useful review

About author

Barbara Carrellas earned my respect the moment I learned that she was friends with my sex icon, Annie Sprinkle. But you'll fall in love with her even if you aren't a geek about sex doctors. Sprinkle praises her for doing it all "with class and dignity." And "it all" means dungeons, transsexuals, orgies and the like. Then there's the fact that she starts the book off with a story about stripping and her stripper persona, and how that turned into a Tantric experience. As you can tell, she's no New Age, linen-wearing pseudo-guru. She's a sexy, kinky New Yorker with a thing or two (or a thousand!) to teach you about sex. And she does it amazingly well.

Carrellas herself is an ex-Catholic with something of an allergy to religion. But when the AIDS epidemic hit, and she lost hundreds of friends and coworkers and needed some real sexual healing. Tantra was her way to trust sexuality again. Her devotion to the practice, and her faith in it, is extremely genuine, and her story is touching and compelling.

Throughout this book, Carrellas is acutely aware of the fact that some, if not all, of her audience is skeptical and easily turned off by anything too fruity. Mostly, she achieves zero New Agey-ness. However, it is just unrealistic that you won't have to stretch your mind a little to accept what she says about chakras, the inner flute, and sex magic. But trust me, you're in good hands, and you'll come out of this experience cumming.

Carrellas skillfully mixes sexy and enlightening anecdotes from her life and studies with the nuts and bolts of Tantric theory and exercises for the reader. Her voice is clear and positive, and she brings some real maturity and sex-positivity to the table. Because of this, the book is worth reading simply for her holistic sex advice, such as "most people touch the way they like to be touched, which may not be how someone else likes to be touched at all." She has thought-provoking insights about almost every aspect of sexuality, and her prose is delightful.

Content / Style / Audience

This book is about the practice of Tantric sex, the age-old tradition of using breath and meditation to enhance sexuality. Its particular focus is adapting the ancient tradition of Tantra for the modern, time-crunched, stressed and skeptical age. Carrellas herself got into Tantra as a way of healing from a modern crisis--AIDS--and she wants everyone to have that resource for their own modern crises.

The book is definitely for someone who knows next to nothing about Tantra, because it really starts from the beginning, talking about breathing, the chakras, and basic practices. It might be interesting for a seasoned Tantrika to hear Carrellas's take on things, but much of it would probably bore them. The first few chapters are devoted to breathing and meditation. Then it progresses to solo Tantra, then to partnered Tantra. The most original chapters come at the back, which deal with marrying BDSM and Tantra, as well as using Tantra for what she calls "sex magic," and also a very encouraging chapter on group sex.

I personally read the book not having the slightest idea what Tantra was, other than that Sting did it, it takes a long time, and I wanted to learn. Right, wrong, right. The book is so easy to read and interesting that it took me no time to read it, and most of the exercises take about twenty minutes at the shortest. So if you think that Tantra is a day (or week) long endeavor, think again.

However, I have had a bit of experience with rituals, meditation, breathing, and visualization, so those parts were easily digestible for me. My partner had not had such experience, so it was a bit harder for him to swallow. Have an orgasm from breathing? It does kind of sound crazy, but don't knock it till you've tried it. He was in bliss for a long time after I led him through the Firebreath Orgasm. Also, I think it is easier for a person with a pussy to understand a non-genital orgasm, because often people with penises are very penis oriented in their orgasms. But Tantra helps everyone achieve balance: it helps pussy-people warm up quick and become orgasmic, and it helps penis-people have more full-body experiences.

Speaking of, this book is extremely inclusive when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. The illustrations picture all of the basic couplings, and the language honors people of all the genders of the rainbow. It mentions techniques for the disabled, something rarely seen or acknowledged in sexual work. It also takes safe sex into account, so it is useful for the polyamorous, the non-fluid bound, those with STDs and their partners. This book it truly targeted at everyone who is open to explore Tantra, and even those who are tentative.

Design

The cover of this book features a gorgeous, curvaceous back with a Kandalini snake and lotus tattoo. It's totally sexy and caught my partner's eye immediately. It's a heavy paperback, nothing special there. It has a very comprehensive layout, with a full table of contents and an index. There are five parts and twenty-two chapters, plus acknowledgments, a foreword, a prelude, an introduction, and references and resources at the end.

I found the layout of the book to be pleasant and easy to navigate. The drawings are simple but comprehensive, and they show people of all different ethnicities, genders, and partners. I suppose that if I had a bone to pick it would be that there is not too much diversity in body type.

All the parts have a marking page, with a little intro on the back. Each chapter has a main heading, and intro, and then sub-headings to label sections of the text. There are a few little boxes with fun facts. The design of this book is certainly not what makes it, but it doesn't detract from it either, and I wouldn't ask for more than that in this context.

Personal comments

I was personally very inspired by this book. It opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about sexuality. I feel that it has made me more aware of my body, my sexuality, and the needs of my partner. In a way, it has had a pretty abstract effect, raising my sex-positivity and the way I try to practice sex: consciously. But it has also helped me in concrete ways, like teaching my partner to have multiple orgasms, being more present during sex, and gaining courage to do things I had trouble with, like dirty talking.

I am also inspired to pursue Tantra, and possibly go to some workshops and parties. Even if you are not as enthusiastic about Tantra as I am by the end of this book, I am sure it will have made you a more conscious lover (to yourself and others) and left you feeling more in control of your sexual destiny.

Experience

There are many techniques in this book, but there are a couple that I think are particularly worth noting. Firstly, the breath and energy orgasms (Firebreath and Clench and Hold) are awesome techniques, and in the experience of my partner and me, they really work. After Firebreath we felt tingly and chill, and after the Clench and Hold I felt like I was soaring amongst the stars.

Also, there are techniques for penis massage. My partner and I thought that I was good at giving hand-jobs, but we were obviously wrong. After a palmful of lube, those moves (with cute names like "twist and shout" and "the juicer") had my partner moaning, squirming, gasping, asking me what the hell I was doing to him and begging for more. She stresses that these moves are not for hand-jobs, they are the Erotic Awakening Massage, but this is one point at which I diverge from Carrellas. I use the moves for both, because, as the book often stresses, if it works, go with it.
Follow-up commentary
I totally still love this book! I go back to it for reference all the time, and have incorporated the techniques into my everyday sexlife. I found the section on group sex inspiring, as well as the description of the connection between BDSM and Tantra. I wish everyone would read this book, so that everyone I slept with could have the knowledge it holds. Plus, there would be way more orgasms for everyone.
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Comments
  • Minxy
    Minxy  
    Fantastic review!
  • Lithaewyn
    Lithaewyn  
    Thanks much! I already really wanted this book, and I might not be able to put it off any longer. Smile
  • NuMe
    NuMe  
    Great review, thanks!
  • Sammi
    Sammi  
    Sounds like a good one to pick up.
    Good review! Smile
  • Kayla
    Kayla  
    Great review. Looks like a really great book.
  • LicentiouslyYours
    LicentiouslyYours  
    Seems like an excellent book for anyone. Thanks, nice job!
  • Viktor Vysheslav Malkin
    Viktor Vysheslav Malkin  
    Sounds interesting Smile Great review Big smile
  • Jessica Elizabeth
    Jessica Elizabeth  
    Wonderful review, thanks! I think I just may be getting this one!
  • deadpoet
    deadpoet  
    great review
  • Tori Rebel
    Tori Rebel  
    Very good review - I actually have this at home but it's about 10 deep in my 'to read next' list...I may have to bump it up!
  • Airen Wolf
    Airen Wolf  
    Great review!
  • Miss Voluptuous
    Miss Voluptuous  
    I loved this book. Thinking about buying a copy so I can own it. Thanks for the review
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