Stars Fuel Tantric Sex Frenzy, Hype

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

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 "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 "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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