Yoga improves our sexual health by teaching us how to inhabit our bodies, which is really just an abstract way of saying that we become familiar with the most intricate parts of our anatomy, all the way down to those internal core muscles. (Yoga calls them bandhas, we call them kegels and abdomens.)
As yoga teaches us to become more aware of ourselves, we become more comfortable with touch and intimacy. Understanding our specific needs and tendencies allows us to reclaim our sexuality. Sexual health entails a positive appreciation for our sexuality and an awareness of any sexual problems. But because sex is a holistic experience, it is often difficult to locate specific problems in bed.
Yoga can help. Spending some time on the yoga mat can help you solve or become aware of some sexual problems you might be experiencing. Here are four tools to try if your sex life is stagnant.
The brain is the most important sex organ. Stress, anxiety, and depression make it difficult to enjoy sex. Because of this, we need a way to reset the brain. Meditation and pranayama are such tools.
They’re the reason why yoga is different from cold stretching or a gym workout. They bring us back into ourselves. If you are struggling to enjoy sex, I recommend meditation first, even before yoga asana. Like sand settling at the bottom of the ocean, often the first thing we need to do is calm the storm.
Put into Practice: Sitting in Lotus, let your hands rest comfortably on your thighs. Sit straight without straining your back and continue to gently pull your heart forwards, shoulder blades rolling down your back. Close your eyes.
Take a long, gentle inhale for four, slow counts. Pause and hold for four counts. Exhale completely for four counts. Again, pause for four counts. Take five to ten rounds of this slow, square breath. On every inhale, choose to take something in (love, peace, awareness). On every exhale, choose to let something go (stress, anxiety, anger). This exercise is best to practiced twice a day, just upon waking and right before bed.
For Women - Bridge Pose
I was recently chatting with a group of women about the benefits of their new yoga practice – pain relief, improved sleep, calm demeanor – and one of them learned forward and whispered into my ear. “And I finally enjoy sex!”
Let’s not whisper it; let’s talk about it. Studies show that this new yoga practitioner was right. Results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that 12 weeks of yoga led to significant improvement in women’s arousal and lubrication. Why? Yoga improves blood flow and pelvic floor strength.
The strength and position of the pelvis is vital for women’s sexual pleasure. As yoga teaches us the natural alignment of our bodies, we can learn how to adjust ourselves, as needed. By tilting the pelvis upwards with a slight tilt towards the shoulder blades, the clitoris and G-spot can realign for optimal pleasure. Understanding this pelvic alignment and maintaining a calm, present mindset are crucial for women’s sexual pleasure.
Put into Practice: Bridge Pose strengthens the kegels, if practiced correctly. With the hips in line with the knees, and the feet hips-width distance apart, think about squeezing the thighs together while contracting the pelvic floor. There should be no tension in the glutes. Hold for one to two breaths. Complete ten repetitions.
For Men - Camel Pose
Men report that their best sex is when they are exploring the other person and not focusing on achieving the end. They have to get lost in the act of sex, a similar sensation found in yoga. But that also requires intense personal control.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine also published results showing that yoga can be used as non-therapeutic treatment for men, especially regarding premature ejaculation. Yoga teaches us to draw our energy inwards, rather than releasing our energy in explosive gym exercises. Because of this, yoga poses simulate the control required to maintain enjoyable sex.
Put into Practice: Camel Pose requires a deep internal contraction while thrusting the groin forwards. With the hands pressing the sacrum forwards, fingers pointed downwards, lean the back up and over an imaginary beach ball. Relax the neck and the lower back.
Use the strength of the lower belly and the thighs to press the pelvis forwards. Think about drawing the energy from the groin up towards the head. Pause and hold for ten breaths.
As a yoga teacher, I see many couples attending classes together, and all of them are enthusiastic about the benefits of their mutual practice. It unifies them by establishing a similar mindset. I see them holding hands in Savasana and giggling during arm balances, enjoying each other’s company without competing. They are there to be in touch with their bodies and each other.
Whether you’re feeling disconnected from yourself or your partner, yoga brings us back into ourselves. It puts us and our relationships back together. By engaging in a communal, non-competitive task, we show our partner how much we value their wellbeing. Without performing or straining, we get to move side by side, enjoying the simplest aspects of each other. (Not to mention the rush of endorphins and sexual arousal.)
Put into Practice: If you can’t attend a class together, try starting the day with a set of five Sun Salutations. Or end the night with some low-key floor work. Cat/Cow, Downward Dog, low lunge twists, One-legged forward folds, and Pigeon pose are some of my nighttime favorites.
Yoga allows us to become more comfortable with ourselves and with each other. While the improved flexibility may increase sexual performance, yoga mostly improves the holistic experience. When we learn to link our minds with our bodies, we are able to feel more both physically and emotionally.
If you’re looking for more, check out the Kamasutra online, the world’s oldest sex manual, thanks to some of the world’s first yogis.
Image Credit: Stephanie Birch