I’ve always thought that there’s something sexy about my yoga teachers—both men and women. It isn’t just their lanky yoga bodies, but how assured and even adventurous they seem in those bodies. Now a recent study indicates that I was onto something. The research, out of yoga’s homeland, India, indicates that yoga’s not only great for flexibility, strength and mental health, but your sex life as well.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and two Indian research centers followed 40 women who attended a 12-week yoga camp in Mumbai, India. Women knew they were being studied, but were not told that their sex lives were under the microscope. Nor did they realize that the camp focused on “asanas” like the lotus, triangle and mountain pose that are supposed to improve abdominal-pelvic muscle tone, and do good things for your sexual organs, as well as digestion, joints, the endocrine system and mood.
Before and after the camp, the women, who ranged in age from 22 to 55 and were all sexually active, filled out the Female Sexual Function Index, a questionnaire measuring what clinicians call “sexual function,” which basically incorporates sexual pleasure and desire. At the end of training, 73 percent of the women reported better sex lives, and women scored, on average, 19 percent higher on the index. Both married and unmarried women saw improvements.
Women age 45 or older saw the biggest sexual boost: 61 percent found it easier to get aroused, 57 percent were better lubricated (an issue for many women during and post-menopause), 20 percent saw a spike in sexual desire and 40 percent said they were more all-around sexually satisfied. Younger women also benefited: About 18 percent found it easier to reach orgasm, 13 percent saw an increase in desire and 16 percent felt more all-around sexually satisfied.
How does yoga help heat things up in the bedroom? Researchers speculate that it’s probably a combination of these known effects of yoga at work: Better muscle tone in the lumbar region (use your imagination on that one); reduced stress, anxiety and depression (all can put a damper on desire); lower blood pressure (improves blood flow to sexual organs); and general improvements in well-being.
What’s your favorite benefit of yoga?