Yoga, Mindfulness, and Great Sex

Salutation (Day 78) by stephcarter.

Salutation (Day 78) by stephcarter

I recently read a few articles on the importance of doing exercise and yoga to improve  your sex life.  It is easy to imagine some of the more obvious ways: an improved flexibility allows practitioners to get into a variety of kama sutra-esque positions.  An increased level of strength allows people to hold those positions for a longer period of time.  An increased ability to balance allows people to explore a variety of standing positions (not to mention the possibilities of perching on top of assorted pieces of furniture throughout the house.) 

While most articles on the importance of yoga and fitness for sex will emphasize the need to be physically fit and cardiovascularly sound in order to put in an adequate performance on an athletic/aerobic level, the reality is, our bodies are pretty well programmed to have sex regardless of what kind of shape we find ourselves in.  One does not need superhuman strength and flexibility to have incredibly fulfilling orgasmic sex.  

Physically, sex is instinctive, pre-programmed by a genetic code that has been passed down from generation to generation since the first amoebic creature divided itself in two in order to reproduce millions of years ago.  But occasionally, modern humans get in their own way by overthinking things (or simply thinking the wrong things at the wrong time.)

This is where I think yoga comes in.  Like other mind-body practices, yoga teaches us to practice mindfulness, a form of non-judgmental awareness.  We learn to use our body, even to push our body, but to be comfortable with what our body can do without judging or analyzing.  When sex becomes unsatisfying it is rarely because we don’t have the cardiovascular chops to cross the finish line.  It is not because we don’t have the strength to support our partner while hanging upside down from the dining room chandelier.  Our ability to achieve an erection or ability to attain orgasm is far less important than our thoughts about those abilities.  More often than not, unsatisfying sex is caused by the mind.   

Yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices help train the mind to avoid it from being easily pulled to where we don’t want it to go (like thinking about a work assignment while in the throes of physical passion).  In any mindfulness practice there is a point of focus: the breath, the moment, the posture.  The challenge is to learn to shift awareness to that point of focus, even when our mind wants to go elsewhere.

In the bedroom, that mental shift may be more important than one’s strength, flexibility or cardiovascular prowess.  It is the ability to shift from a mind that is constantly overtaxed and multitasked with things to do, problems to resolve, and bills to pay, to a single solitary focus on loving and connecting with another human being.  Sexpert Michael Castleman recently wrote about using yoga to enhance sex by reducing anxiety in his Psychology Today blog, “Want Better Sex?  Do Yoga“.  Physical fitness is important.  But good sex comes with the ability to let go of fear, worry, and anxiety in order to experience the love, joy, and sensuality of that connection.  And for those of you who are already advanced yoga practitioners . . . if you are able to hold onto your partner while hanging upside down from the dining room chandelier . . . well, that could be good too.

References and recommended reading:

Barbieri, P. P. (1996).  Confronting stress: Integrating control theory and mindfulness to cultivate our inner resources through learning mind/body health methods.  Journal of reality therapy, 15(2), 3-13.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York: Hyperion.

Langer, E. (2005).  Mindfulness versus positive evaluation.  In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.) Handbook of positive psychology.  New York: Oxford.

Shusterman, R. (2006). Thinking through the body, educating for the humanities: A plea for somaesthetics. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 40, 1-21.

Weiss, A. (2004).  Beginning mindfulness: Learning the way of awareness. Novato, CA: New World Library. 

 

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8 Responses to Yoga, Mindfulness, and Great Sex

  1. Jessica Durivage August 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    Jeremy –
    Well, this is something I can definitely comment on! 🙂
    I have been a yoga teacher for the last eight years – and all I can say is bandhas, bandhas, bandhas! You might be wondering “what is a bandha?” – Yoga is about taking us back to the core – the core of existence – before all of the programming and patterning. As we begin to train the mind – we have to begin somewhere, right? We start on the most gross level – with the body. We use our pelvic floor (the root lock which is called moola bandha) – to bring awareness to our core – our core strength and the power that in most of us, lies dormant. You can imagine – by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor…………. need I say more? As we move the gross to the more subtle – sex becomes less about “physical gratification.”
    The art of Tantra revolves around transforming desire into love – it moves passion into bliss – and can help you appreciate true union with your partner.
    Yes, more yoga – better sex. Better sex – more yoga. Perfect union.

    Namaste
    Jessica

    p.s. Have you thought about submitting this article to Elephant Journal??? http://www.elephantjournal.com

  2. Marie-Josee Shaar August 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    Yoga and sex have something else in common: some sessions are better than others. With that in mind, I find that good yoga sessions tend to have a very sensual quality to them and so may very well be a great prelude to Kama Sutra and other chandelier-like activities!

    MarieJ

  3. Jessica Durivage August 24, 2010 at 4:16 pm #

    I agree with Marie!

  4. Jeremy McCarthy August 31, 2010 at 7:49 am #

    This should be good motivation to get to yoga class regularly!

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  8. Andrew C. March 10, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Have to put a plug for Pilates. Twice during the year following spinal fusion surgery, delayed reaction pain from night-before sex sent me to the emergency room. Twice per week Pilates taught me how to move without involving the back. Having sex last weekend I thought I could hear my instructor saying “That’s One, now Two, and Three, use your Abs, that’s four!,” etc.

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