This week our guests are Mark A. Michaels (Swami Umeshanand Saraswati) and Patricia Johnson (Devi Veenanand), a devoted married couple who have been teaching Tantra together since 1999. Their approach combines traditional lineage-based Tantra with the best contemporary methods so that students can bring heightened awareness and an expanded capacity for pleasure into all aspects of everyday life. Michaels and Johnson are the authors of The Essence of Tantric Sexuality (Llewellyn, 2006), which won the USA Book News National Best Books 2007 Award in Health: Sexuality. Their second book, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life (Llewellyn 2008) won the 2008 USA Book News Award, also in Health: Sexuality, was selected as an Indie Excellence Awards finalist in New Age Non-Fiction, and was a ForeWord Magazine Books of the Year Award finalist in the Body, Mind and Spirit category.) Their meditation CD set, Ananda Nidra: Blissful Sleep (Projekt Records) was a finalist for the 2012 COVR Visionary Award for Innerspace/Meditational/Healing Music.
Michaels and Johnson wrote and appeared in two instructional DVDs produced by the Alexander Institute: Tantric Sexual Massage for Lovers and Advanced Tantric Sex Secrets. They have been featured on television (Good Day Colorado, AM Northwest, Naked New York), radio (Afternoon Advice and Nightcalls on Playboy Radio,Go to Bed with Cosmo Radio, The Derek and Romaine Show, and NPR’s A Chef’s Table) and have been quoted as experts in numerous publications and on many websites – from women’s magazines to dating websites to men’s magazines to GLBT- oriented media – includingRedbook, Latina, Jane, Cosmopolitan, The Village Voice, Metro, Pregnancy and Newborn, More, Rockstar, Woman’s World, The Sydney Star Observer(Australia’s most popular GLBT weekly), Emotion (Germany), The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tantric Sex, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Enhancing Sexual Desire. They have also contributed articles to various online and print publications, including Chronogram and Debonair, and give sexuality and relationship advice at Dick-n-Jane.com.
The couple has taught throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, and Australia. They are senior students of Tantric pioneer Dr. Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila Saraswati). Dr. Mumford has named them his lineage holders for the Americas and Europe. In addition, they have studied Bhakti Yoga with Bhagavan Das and Tantra with Dr. Rudolph Ballentine.
Michaels is a graduate of New York University School of Law and a member of the Bar in New York State. He holds master’s degrees in American Studies from NYU and Yale. Formerly, a playwright and translator, he translated and adapted Goldoni’s The Mistress of the Inn for the Roundabout Theatre Company, and co-wrote The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Debate, which premiered at New York’s Primary Stages. Johnson is a retired professional operatic soprano who toured throughout the United States, Europe, and South America and performed with the New York City Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Komsiche Oper Berlin. She currently is active in the conservation and preservation of New York’s native turtles.
Michaels and Johnson are co-founders of the Pleasure Salon, a monthly gathering in New York City that brings together sex-positive people and pleasure activists from a variety of communities.