Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go it’s one of the best.
Not everybody gets into yoga looking for spiritual enlightenment. Some people are drawn in by texts like the Kamasutra, wild rumors about tantra, or promises that yoga can improve your sex life. This isn’t the core purpose of yoga, it’s far from it, but it is a side effect that I’m sure we’d all agree is pretty handy. If we can improve our sex lives as we work up the chakras towards more loving and spiritual pursuits then everybody wins.
So in what ways can yoga affect our reproductive system? Turns out yoga and meditation can boost our reproductive system in a variety of ways.
Sensation, Circulation, and Breathing
First off, yoga can help to regulate our blood pressure and improve our blood circulation. Our reproductive organs are made up of erectile tissue. When we are aroused, blood flows into these tissues causing them to increase in size, like a man getting an erection. Similarly, the clitoris enlarges as it swells with blood during arousal.
When our nervous system is in a state of parasympathetic dominance, blood flow to the reproductive organs is increased. More passive forms of yoga, and especially meditation, slow our breathing and heart rates down and bring us into parasympathetic dominance.
Being aware of your breathing can help you to last longer (a common concern for men) and be more aware during sex. Before orgasm, the breath naturally speeds up and becomes shallower. By consciously deepening our breath, we develop more control of our orgasms. Many men suffer from performance anxiety and premature ejaculation which can make sex stressful instead of fulfilling. Becoming conscious of the breath helps us to realize when we are approaching the peak before orgasm.
Not only does taking control of our breath give us more control over our climb to orgasm, it makes us more aware of the present moment. This can bring an increased awareness of the merging of two energetic bodies. In this way sex can transcend being solely a physical act. It has the potential to deepen the connection between partners and develop into something more spiritual and emotional.
Numerous yoga poses work on strengthening and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are involved in pleasurable sexual sensations. When you have an orgasm, some of these muscles contract involuntarily. Increased strength and awareness of these muscles can potentially lead to increased sensitivity and stronger orgasms. Developing these muscles can also lead to decreased pelvic pain experienced by some women during intercourse (as reported in the Nov. 12, 2009 edition of The Journal of Sexual Medicine).
Overall, regular yoga practice can lead to higher levels of proprioception and interoception, the feeling of our bodies’ existence and its movement in space. We can become more aware of the pleasurable sensations during sex by becoming more aware of our body in general. We seldom think of sex as a moving meditation but it can be so if we use it to tap into our own body, our partner’s body, or a combination of the two. We don’t have to be in lotus to meditate, we can be in reverse cowgirl or any other position as long as we are mindful!
Stress and Sex
When we are stressed, turning to yoga instead of excessive alcohol consumption, eating, and yelling is highly preferable for our sexual and overall health.
Elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, over a prolonged period of time can lead to lower levels of sexual hormones. Low levels of sexual hormones leads to decreased libido. Yoga and meditation have been shown to effectively lower cortisol levelsi.
Stress can lead to excessive alcohol consumption, excessive eating, and poor communication. Alcohol has certainly played matchmaker many a times over the course of history. Just pop your head into any booty-shaking club and see what I mean. But it negatively affects our sexual performance. Alcohol is dehydrating and leads to weaker erections in men and decreases lubrication in women.
Another way people cope with stress is through eating. Excessive eating can lead to poor self-image. If we consider ourselves undesirable, we are less likely to initiate the connections that can lead to partnerships. Yoga is a practice for us to become more aware and comfortable in our bodies. We learn to work with our bodies instead of fighting against our limitations. The more comfortable we are in our own body, the more comfortable we can be when joining bodies with another person.
Stress often causes us to lash out and communicate negatively and ineffectively. Poor communication can create rifts in relationships, which also translates into the bedroom. If there are problems in our relationships, we tend to have sex less often or find it less fulfilling. Take a deep breath, speak your truth, and you might find yourself getting out of harmful relationships or repairing them.
Strengthening and Stretching Your Possibilities
Increased flexibility allows for greater exploration of positions. Adventure isn’t just limited to the great outdoors. How can we know what position has the most sensation, or is the most intimate, for us if our flexibility is a limiting factor?
The same goes for core strength. Sex is a physical activity. I think everyone would prefer to focus on the pleasurable sensations of sex rather than their tired muscles. Yoga can be a great way to build strength throughout the entire core and the stabilizing muscles that we often engage during coitus.
Joining in Union
The word yoga can be derived to mean ‘union’. What more natural union exists than sex? Being conscious of your body and your partner’s body can lead to greater physical sensation. Being more conscious of the nonphysical, often overlooked aspects of sex, can lead to greater bonding. Perhaps we can even find the union between the mind, body, and spirit in the beautiful act of joining together physically.
iThirtalli, J. et al. “Cortisol and Antidepressant Effects on Yoga” Indian Journal of Psychiatry 55.3 (2013): 405-08.