What is Classical Tantra and Where Do I Learn It?

6 min readSep 13, 2022
Trika Deities • Parāparā, Parā & Aparā • Illustrations by Ekabhūmi Ellik in Tantra Illuminated

There is a resurgence of interest arising in Classical Tantra in large propelled by the work of scholar-practitioners such as Christopher Wallis and Christopher Tompkins, and informed by the publication of books like Tantra Illuminated and The Recognition Sutras.

This resurgence was possibly seeded by the stratospheric rise — and burnout — of Anusara Yoga. It was founded in 1997 and crashed spectacularly in 2012 with allegations of pension-stealing, witchcraft and adultery.

Part of Anusara’s legacy though was that it introduced many yogic practitioners to non-dual Tantrik philosophy for the first time.

Grounded in Non-Dual Tantric philosophy, Anusara teaches us that everything in this world is an embodiment of Supreme Consciousness. The essence of the Supreme pulsates with pure awareness and pure bliss.~ Anusara Yoga Philosophy

My own introduction to Classical Tantra came in 2010 when I completed my 200hr yoga teacher training with Shiva Rea. She had scholar-practitioner Christopher Tompkins guest teach the Tantrik portion of the Training every morning at 6 am. He’s a passionate, inspired and dedicated practitioner and academic and he brought the essence of Tantra alive in those two-hour lecture and practice sessions.

That was the beginning of my dedication to Tantrik practice — specially ucchara practice.

So what IS Classical Tantra?

For this, we’ll turn to Christopher Wallis. He says:

You may wonder what the phrase “classical Tantra“ refers to. It identifies the peak period of the Tantrik movement (800–1100 CE) and distinguishes our subject matter from the later Hindu Tantra and haṭha-yoga traditions (both 1100–1800), and also from modern American neo-Tantra (started around 1905 by Pierre Bernard). The classical Tantra that I treat in my book is associated with a specific religious tradition, the religion of Shiva & Shakti, commonly known as Shaivism. Shaivism was practiced all over what is now India, Nepal, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, and Indonesia, and was the dominant religion of India in the medieval period (600–1200). But there is also the important category of Buddhist Tantra; and many of the practices of Buddhist Tantra were directly…


🔱 Speaker • Mentor • Teacher • Author 🔱 Conversations with Kara-Leah Podcast 🔱 Memoir • Sex, Drugs & (mostly) Yoga 🔱 Conscious Festival Advocate