I've had a lot of students who pull me aside after class to secretly ask whether regularly practicing the yoga postures will improve their sex lives. I can't help but laugh because I held the same question in my head when I first started — but never had the gumption to actually ask my instructor. Yoga helps all aspects of your life, as you probably know if you are a dedicated practitioner. So the answer in a nutshell is yes, but don't think you'll become a sex goddess overnight just because you flew through a few sun salutations. The more you do yoga, the more you discover your own body and learn how to respond instead of react to it. Overall, studies show that these ancient postures improve overall sexual function, including and especially by boosting your libido.
Kate Hanley, yoga teacher and founder of MsMindBody.com, says the practice affects your libido because of the increase of circulation in the pelvic region. The asanas are meant to flood energy through the whole system so it's relaxed and supple. In other words, time frolicking around under the covers just got way more fun. Another instructor, Paula Tursi, who writes for the Huffington Post — and also happens to be a couples counselor — puts it simply: "Yoga shows you how to slow down, open up and feel." While your libido is benefitting from all those stretches you did at the studio this morning, you're additionally in a headspace where you are more likely to listen to the rhythms of your partner's body in conjunction with yours, as well as be more playful. How could you go wrong?
Here are the top seven postures to boost your libido and spice up your sex life.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Great news, because this posture is the one you most often find yourself in. Just look at it. It's got sex written all over it; there's no way it's not useful for your time in the sack. Traditionally, down dog is meant to improve overall flexibility and release any pain in your back and neck, two things that will offer you more sexual creativity. Your butt is in the air and your hips are easily accessible, and all the while fresh blood is circulating throughout the system, leaving your libido fresh and ready. Plus, you're toning your muscles and boosting inner confidence.
Pro tip: Because this pose is so common, it's easy to forget the importance of form. Keep your shoulders back to give your neck enough room to stretch, heels dug into the ground to release the hamstrings, and bum pointed straight at the ceiling so that you look like an inverted V. Pull your forearms toward each other.
2. Cobra Pose
In William Broad's book The Science Of Yoga, he tell us of a team of scientists from India and Russia who did research on this particular posture in order to understand how it affected people sexually. On average, the hormone cortisol — you know, the chemical that raises blood pressure and stress — decreased in the body by 11 percent and testosterone rose 16 percent. You might read the latter as a bad thing, but it actually has a huge impact on female sexual arousal. Testosterone sharpens the mind, increases awareness, and helps the woman visualize the relationship spatially.
Pro tip: Cobra also squeezes the adrenal glands, flooding you with vibrancy. You could miss out on this part, however, if you aren't engaging your legs enough. I've seen many students focus so intently on the upper part of the body that they fail to turn on the legs and gently squeeze the thighs toward each other. That small adjustment could make all the difference in your level of blood flow, thus making your trip to the bedroom much more enjoyable.
3. Bound Angle Pose
This simple pose is made to stimulate a low libido, as it opens up the hips to prepare them for, well, anything. We hold a lot of pent up anger in our hip area, and if we don't do any sort of physical activity to flush it out, we are stuck with a stagnant pelvis. That's definitely no good for sex. Bound Angle will help you peel away those levels of stress and find a deeper level of intimacy with your partner, and it increases the circulation in that whole area of the body, which is a characteristic directly correlated with sexual arousal.
Pro tip: It's an intense one to hold, I know, especially if you don't have much experience with it. Don't worry, it is a beginner's posture, and although it may not be exactly pleasant at first, you will find yourself ease into it — and soon love it. If you find tightness in the hips and it's too difficult to let your knees drop all the way to the floor, simply grab two pillows or yoga blocks to place under them as extra support and a less intense stretch.
4. Eagle Pose
Heaven knows this one causes me grief, but it feels pretty delicious afterwards. It's officially a sexy pose — it shows up in the Kama Sutra, after all. When you're all twisted up, you're creating a tourniquet effect, meaning when you finally release (panting and all), a fresh flow of blood rushes to your cervix and pelvic area, flushing out pent-up energy and getting you ready for action. It's a tough one to hold, so you're also improving your concentration and paving the way for a sweet, stress-free cool-down later.
Pro tip: No worries if you can't actually get your foot hooked underneath the ankle — you'll get there one day. Note what your hips are doing in this posture; you may automatically stick out your duck butt, hyperextending and compressing the lower spine. Resist that urge, because you might cause yourself unwanted pain. Instead, tuck your hips under and engage the abdominals to protect the lumbar. Twist the arms together and sit down as low, low, low as you can. Your thighs will thank you.
5. Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend
Like Bound Angle, this pose is a hip opener that is prescribed to boost the libido in both men and women. How could there not be more blood flow to the pelvis when you're in a position like this? It improves flexibility as well, making the hips, thighs, and lower back feel juicier and more relaxed. We don't encounter this one as often as, say, downward facing dog, but it's a great one to do if you're at home lounging around in front of the TV. You can hold it as long as you feel comfortable.
Pro tip: Using a wall is an effective way to gradually improve your ability in this posture. Spread your legs wide apart facing the wall, press your feet against it, and scoot your hips in as far as you can without reaching discomfort. As you get more comfortable with that, you'll eventually be able to do the full posture on the floor, with your torso lengthened and your peace fingers around the big toes. No matter which variation you take, ensure your knees and toes are pointed skywards; this is crucial to protect the joints.
6. Bridge Pose
Behold, ladies, this is the one to practice if you're a fan of orgasms. It strengthens the muscles around the vagina, paving the way for easier climax; in fact, holding this posture isn't far from practicing your Kegel exercises (which you're doing, right?) because you're softly squeezing the pelvic muscles. A wonderful hip flexor stretch and toner for your thighs, too, Bridge is the pathway from yoga to sex.
Pro tip: Keep your shoulders on the ground and don't let them creep up to your ears. Instead of trying to bring your chin to the chest, attempt the opposite in order to maitain length in the neck. Press your heels into the floor, but don't extend your hips too high to the sky, as that will put unecessary pressure on the lumbar spine. Breathe deeply — and maybe even do a few Kegels at the same time.
7. Cat And Cow
Ah, my favorite way to start a vinyasa flow class. It just feels so good to move the pelvis up and down in the kind of motions we never get to indulge in unless we're having sex. It won't come as a surprise that the flow of these postures also strengthens your Kegel muscles; with every shift of the tailbone you're slowly but surely activating all the bits and pieces that don't normally get to move. It's nearly impossible for your libido to not be positively affected by this pair.
Pro tip: Make sure the shoulders are directly over the top of the wrists, and hips over knees. Inhale as you enter cow and look up to the ceiling, moving apart the heart and chest from the belly, then pointing your butt upwards. When you exhale, look down and separate your shoulder blades as you empty out the stomach. The most important factor here is that you are breathing on your own accord, moving however you see fit.
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