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If you had to choose just one for the rest of your life, would you practice yoga or have sex? Luckily, this isn’t a decision you have to make. But it does make you wonder… Does your sex life improve once you start practicing yoga? And do yogis really have better sex overall?
I’ve been practicing yoga for 14 years, and I’ve been a registered yoga teacher for nine. Everyone in my life knows about my passion for yoga, as I frequently post photos of myself in poses and promote my classes on social media. Yet, I was still surprised when at my high school reunion, a former classmate—a male who was always a class clown—declared that my sex life must be amazing. He continued by saying my husband is lucky because I can do “all of those positions.” Of course, he made this announcement in front of a crowd of people I hadn’t seen in 10 years. My cheeks burned. Talk about embarrassing.
Even though what my friend said was crude, he was mostly correct. For me, sex did get better when I started practicing yoga—and it continues to improve. I am a huge subscriber to Pantajali’s Yoga Sutra 1.14: “Perfection in practice comes when one continues to practice with sincerity and respect for a long period of time without any interruption.” This life advice pertains to the spiritual and physical aspects of yoga. But it’s also true for any pursuit—including sex!
In my opinion, yogis might have better sex lives than people who aren’t as spiritually or physically active. One of my female yoga students agrees. “You have more energy, your muscles are more toned, and you can do more physically, with more flexibility. But most importantly, there’s the mental portion of learning to love yourself, your body, and your mind.”
Research backs this up. According to a 2014 study, researchers found that women who practiced yoga—specifically hatha, pranayama, and raja—reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction than women who didn’t do yoga.
But why, exactly, does yoga improve sex? We’re glad you asked. Read on for five reasons, backed by science.
5 reasons why yogis have better sex lives
Yoga engages the mula bandha
You’ve probably heard your yoga teacher talk about engaging your bandhas. This refers to four locks in the body where you can direct your energy for optimal health. One of those locks—the mula bandha or root lock—involves contracting and releasing the muscles of the pelvic floor. (Imagine stopping the flow of urine. Those are the muscles.)
You can “lock” these muscles during asana, pranayama, or meditation to calm the mind and body while providing stability in the root chakra. ”Pulling the root lock gives you great control over the pelvic floor,” explains Kundalini teacher Elise Recupero. “When you contract the sex organs, it is essentially a Kegel exercise. Kegels increase blood flow to the pelvic area, and this can improve sexual arousal and orgasm.”
So in case you needed a reminder: Do your Kegels.
Yoga encourages you to accept your body as it is
When you keep showing up on your mat, you start to accept what your body does (or doesn’t do) on any given day. Some days, you’ll slay every pose and breath and meditation. Others, you won’t be able to stay balanced in Tree Pose, you’ll hold your breath as you flow, and your mind will explode with thoughts.
This is all OK. Yoga teachers—especially me—will tell you that your body is amazing, wonderful and beautiful exactly the way it is. We accept the days we feel great, as well as the days when we’re tired or stressed. When you hear that over and over, the sentiments start to sink in. Body acceptance is a huge benefit of yoga—so is the related idea of self-love.
“A regular yoga practice can do wonders for confidence,” Recupero says. “When you feel relaxed in your body, you tend to bring in more self-acceptance and less judgment. One of the sexiest things is when someone is confident in who they are, no matter what size or shape. When you are confident with your body and in front of your partner, sex is always better!”
Yoga can help you learn to love your body and appreciate all of the things it can do—from yoga to sex and everything in between.
Yogis are tapped into mindfulness
Learning to be more present in the moment is huge—both in life and in sex. Mindfulness helps yogis deal with the stresses of everyday life, including relationships, family, work and to-do lists. How often do these things keep you from getting in the mood?
Yogis believe in slowing down and calming the mind to feel present in each moment. This may mean taking deep breaths, doing self-care rituals, or practicing poses. Yogis work on this regularly. “Mindfulness can be applied to sex in terms of enjoying all the sensations and feelings while doing the act. Let your conscious mind shut off and just enjoy,” says clinical sexologist Diana Nadim.
Meditation leads to increased mindfulness, as well. “It allows us to tune into ourselves, connect our brains and body, and be fully present in the moment—all of which can lead to more intense sensations during sex,” Isabelle Uren, a certified sex expert, explains. Our thoughts often distract us, but yogis learn to let thoughts pass by freely. “It’s much easier to pay full attention to the experience and enjoy the pleasure to the fullest,” she adds.
Yoga improves your physical ability
Asana is designed to get you out of your head and into your body. But let’s be real: Holding Chaturanga for five breaths is also going to give you killer biceps and triceps. Poses like Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 strengthen the legs, ankles, and feet. Boat Pose builds a strong core. Wheel Pose increases the range of motion in your spine. Pigeon Pose opens the hips and groins. Sun Salutations increase your stamina. And we could go on about the even steamier benefits of Happy Baby.
“Yoga gives you better stamina and flexibility,” says Liv A., a yogi and author (last name withheld to protect privacy). “With my tiring sex positions, sometimes you get out of breath!”
Another yoga teacher, Caitlin M. adds, “I definitely have more energy since starting yoga. My partner has also commented on how flexible I am, which seems to be a turn on for many, as it increases the possibility of new positions.”
So my high school friend was right—the increased strength and flexibility that comes from yoga has some obvious benefits in the bedroom.
Pranayama makes everything more intense
Remember that scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Meg Ryan’s character is at the diner with Harry, and she starts to breath heavily while pretending to have an orgasm? She pants, thrashes, and sighs heavily. Want to have more of what she’s having? The breathwork you’re already doing in yoga may be useful when you get romantic with your partner.
“Being able to control and direct your breath and energy can be very beneficial during sex,” Uren says. “Often, when we approach orgasm, our breath becomes short and shallow, or we might even hold our breath. But this can limit how much pleasure we feel.”
Abdominal breathing and directing the breath deep down into the pelvis and genitals helps to relax the area and increase blood flow which aids in arousal and sensitivity, Uren explains. “It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes your whole body and mind and allows you to focus on the pleasurable sensations of the moment,” she says. “Some people find that deep breathing results in more intense or full-body orgasms.” (As if you need another reason to focus on your pranayama practice.)
Did yoga improve your sex life? It might have. But don’t feel badly if it hasn’t (yet). The potential is there, and you never know when it may result in a very happy ending!