After years of considering gay cruises, gay summer camp, even gay rock climbing, we settled on something unique – a weekend Gay Tantra workshop in Vermont.
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of going on a wellness retreat with a bunch of gay men. Call it summer camp nostalgia, minus the awkward hormone swings and bad food. Unfortunately, I’ve never had enough gay friends who’d rather avoid the typical Fire Island shuffle in favor of a relaxing, wellness-first getaway.
Fortunately, there must be a ton of options out there for like-minded guys hoping to avoid the stereotypical scene. Right?
Not so much. To my surprise, gay-specific wellness group retreats are still incredibly niche, and few and far between. A quick Google search returns a plethora of options for gay vacations, gay hotels, and a ton of open-to-all wellness vacations hosted by hotels and boutique travel agencies. Not that there is anything wrong with going on a wellness retreat with a bunch of straight people. But if I’m traveling with a bunch of strangers, I’d prefer to be with my peeps.
What is a gay wellness retreat?
Wellness retreats in general are still a niche segment of the global travel market. Americans take so little vacation to begin with. And the U.S. version of getting away is often built around letting loose and indulging to the extreme.
One in four people don’t receive paid time off at all.
Europeans however, blessed with mandatory time off, are much more likely to build relaxation, rejuvenation and wellness into their August plans. In fact, they’ve done so for generations. More on that in an upcoming article.
Gay wellness retreats are built with a focus on everything from yoga and meditation to fitness, spiriturality and sexual discovery. They bring groups of men together for weekend and weeklong experiences that favor body, mind and soul over booze.
The only problem – there are so few gay-specific retreats, you really have to dig. A few months ago, we stumbled across a Gay Tantra weekend at Frog Meadow B&B in Vermont.
What is Gay Tantra?
The concept of Tantra has been studied in Buddhist and Hindu traditions since the 6th century. The sanskrit word literally translates to “weaving”. But it is primarily associated in the Western world with mysterious and extraordinary sexual experiences. Or, simply put, “tantric sex”.
At the risk of oversimplifying complex Buddhist and Hindu philosophies, Tantra can be described as the study of techniques to encourage the free flow of energy throughout the body as a form of spiritual and sexual enlightenment. Gay Tantra incorporates bodywork, yoga, meditation, partner work and a focus on the breath as a pathway to one’s full sexual potential.
Armin Heining, a former Benedictine Monk (more on that later) and the founder of GAY-TANTRA, has been teaching tantric practices around the world to gay men for over 25 years. Beyond his retreats, Armin has produced an extensive video and content library of tantra, erotic touch and partner massage guides – all designed for gay men.
Armin’s school of practice is based on methodologies from Margot Anand’s SkyDancing Tantra. SkyDancing Tantra focuses on partnership and integrating ecstatic states throughout day-to-day life between men and women. Armin’s GAY-TANTRA adaptation swaps the man and woman for two men.
Armin has partnered with Frog Meadow, a gay B&B and massage oasis for men located in Southern Vermont, to teach a “101” to Gay Tantra over two days. Scott and Dave, owners of Frog Meadow have welcomed Armin to their B&B for a number of years. In addition to hosting Armin, Scott and Dave plan a number of other summer retreats including naked yoga and massage workshops.
I have no idea what to expect.
And according to Armin, Scott and Dave, that’s perfectly fine. Armin encourages new students to come to his retreats with an open mind, avoiding judgment or preconceived notions of Tantra. He does distribute a number of videos and study guides prior to the retreat so students can begin to familiarize themselves with terms and basic concepts.
I’ll be writing a series of articles in June describing our retreat and our stay at Frog Meadow. I’ll also post an exclusive interview with Armin on his program and his future vision for Gay Tantra.