Stars Fuel Tantric Sex Frenzy, Hype

In a beginner's guide to tantric sex, a YouTube video shows a fully-clothed couple demonstrating the "yabyum" position.

She sits on his lap, staring deeply into his eyes, as they harmonize their breathing, stopping and starting their undulations in a slow method known as "riding the wave."

The ancient Hindi practice -- reportedly embraced by rocker Sting and his wife Trudy, actress Heather Graham and impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs -- has been dubbed the "gateway to ecstasy."

Yesterday it was the G-spot, today it is the Chakras, the seven sensual nerve centers of the body -- at least according to promoters of the practice.

In traditional sex, a couple most often uses the thrusting motion to bring themselves to orgasm. In tantric sex, couples prolong intercourse, building up sexual energy for a more intensified orgasm -- or multiple ones.

Many beginners often spend several weeks doing intimacy exercises -- using loving words and gentle touches -- without actually having intercourse.

The practice is on the rise, and celebrity interest has "put it on the map," according Judy Kuriansky, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex."

The breathing methods are similar to meditation and allow couples to transmit energy through their own body and that of the other person.

"Tantric sex doesn't have to include intercourse or even sexual contact," she said. "You can have bodies pressed together and feel the connection that brings excitment."

The techniques are part of a "ritual of respect," said Kuriansky, a clinical psychologist from Columbia University's Teachers College.

"It's totally for real," she said. "In one or two sessions of breathing and eye-gazing and statements like, 'I am here to love you,' patients of mine who have sexual and relationship problems say, 'Oh my God, I feel a whole different way."

But some of those celebrity endorsements have been more hype than hyperventilation.

Previously, Sting, 57, described is fascination with tantra: "It's about ritualizing a period of the day with your partner; it can be looking at each other, touching each other, running a bath, a massage, deeper levels of connection," he told the Guardian newspaper. " Sex is only the surface."

But in 2004, he retracted his exultations of tantric sex in an interview with the BBC. He said a drunken night on the town with music promoter Bob Geldoff and U2 rocker Bono was to blame.

"I have frantic sex, which is just as good as tantric sex," said of his sex life with Trudy Styler.

"It was simply me and Geldof bitching," said Sting, whose hits include "Roxanne," "Fields of Gold" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me."

Tantric Sex and the Stars

"Okay I had fun with it," said Sting. "Yeah, seven hours of sex every night. In fact it's more like four hours of begging, then a movie and then dinner."

Sting's agent, Tracy Bufferd of KSM, did not return phone calls from ABCNews.com.

Sean "Diddy" Combs, 39, has claimed to use the method for extreme staying power.

When discussing his Paris getaway with girlfriend Kim Porte, mother of his four-month-old twin girls, the rapper told the London Mirror: "As soon as we landed, we went straight to the Eiffel Tower, drank champagne at the top and just kissed and kissed.

"Then we went up to my suite and had tantric sex for at least 30 hours, ordering up whipped cream and strawberries while we were at it," he said. "As meticulous as I am with my work, I'm more meticulous with lovemaking."

Heather Graham recently told the Daily Mail that she would rather "grow old disgracefully than gracefully."

The 39-year-old actress who starred in "Boogie Nights" said she first tried tantric healing when filming "The Guru" in 2002.

"The idea is that you let the whole thing build very slowly until finally you merge with your partner," she said. "It works for me."

Practiced for more than 6,000 years, tantrix sex has its origins in India. In Sanskrit, the word "tantra" means "tool for expansion or weaving."

Some see tantric sex as a reclamation of sexual intimacy.

But instead of the "doorway to the divine," as one Web sites described the practice, it can also be a pricey path to fulfillment. A two-day workshop can cost upwards of $950.

Somraj Pokras, who established with his wife Jeffre TallTrees the Academy of Supreme Bliss in Tahoe, Calif., said tantra is more than just a sexual practice.

"It's a way of life that is impossible to do," says Pokras. "It's an ancient way that many people in the modern world don't access because they live in the mind. Tantra teaches people how to get in touch with the flows of energy in and around them.

"And the strongest way, of course, is through sexual energy," he told ABCNews.com.

Tantric Sex: Follow Pleasure

Tantra principles can be applied to everything a person does, according to Pokras, even tantric eating or tantric tennis.

"We don't follow other people's ideas of right and wrong," he told ABCNews.com. "We learn to get in touch with what feels good inside. Instead of doing the right thing or the approved thing, what we do is follow pleasure."

Susan Quilliam, sex therapist and author of the updated "Joy of Sex," agrees that many have misinterpreted the larger tenets of tantra.

Some celebrity claims of endurance miss the point, she said.

"What we nowadays call tantric sex is a dummy and westernized version of the original spiritual practice," she said.

"We are focusing on the aim -- to prolong love making or get better orgasms," she said. "That means little to those who have a tantric lifestyle. We have taken only the tip of the iceberg."

"It's a bit like saying, 'Aren't those rosary beads pretty -- everyone should wear them,' or "Aren't skull caps lovely," she told ABCNews.com. "It's only a small part of the religion."

Still, Quilliam, who tried Tantric sex at a workshop 25 years ago, said the practice can be "extremely powerful."

"It's really wonderful when sex is not only wham, bang, thank you, ma'am," she said. "If you really want to know what tantric sex is about, it's coming together, being in the moment and giving each other pleasure. Concentrate on your partner, rather than simply going at it."

She knows firsthand, after trying what she learned in the public workshop with her partner "later back in our private quarters."

Said Quilliam, "I've never been able to replicate it."

ABC's Loren Grush contributed to this report.

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