A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2009 showed that women who were unhappy with their sex lives reported improvements in their levels of arousal and desire, as well as better orgasms, after practicing Eastern techniques of mindfulness and yoga. Dr. Elizabeth R. Lombardo, psychologist, physical therapist and the author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, also believes that yoga is great for your sex life. Here are five reasons why:
1. Developing mindfulness. A big part of yoga is a focus of quieting your busy brain, which can be a big boon to your Big Os. "Mindfulness is about being present," says Lombardo. In day-to-day life, your mind is often racing, thinking about all the things you need to do and should have done. This can easily carry over to the bedroom, so during sex, you're thinking about the past and the future instead of the here and now. As Lombardo points out: "If we're thinking about what we have to buy at the grocery store while we're with our partner, that really reduces pleasure." Indeed.
Plus, Lombardo says, "When you're mindful, you're not being judgmental; you're simply accepting what is." Think about how often you judge yourself when you're naked, or worry about how you sound, or, ahem, look in certain positions. Mindfulness takes that judgment out of the picture so you can simply enjoy.
2. Better than Kegels! Kegel exercises (simple contractions of the pelvic floor muscles) are great for sex because they strengthen the muscles you use to climax. When you're doing yoga, during the poses also that work on your pelvic floor muscles, you're holding those contractions for an extended period of time.
3. Less stress means better sex! Yoga is a stress-buster, says Lombardo. When you're stressed, you're less likely to feel like you have time for sex, let alone be in the mood for it. Plus, she adds, stress is a fight or flight reaction -- it doesn't help us, evolutionarily speaking, to desire sex when we're in stressful situations. (That lion is chasing us; let's get it on! No.) Stress literally reduces your libido, physiologically speaking. Stress also contributes to depression, another libido-killer.
Also, you tend to "negative filter" (think negatively) when you're stressed out, says Lombardo, saying busy women can often interpret their man's interest in sex as yet another thing they have to do for someone else. You're more likely to view sex as something fun when you're not super stressed.
4. Strength + flexibility = Y-E-S! Yoga is great for toning, flexibility ... and endurance. Yoga is a killer workout and, again, is often about maintaining contractions for a long time. The resulting development of your muscular endurance can be very helpful during sex (especially for those longer, more acrobatic sessions!).
5. Body confidence. It makes sense that when you're in better shape, you feel more confident, which can help you feel more secure in the bedroom. But it's more than just feeling good about how you look, says Lombardo. "There are biochemical changes that occur in our brains when we exercise that help boost our confidence even before our bodies start changing," she says. More confidence and a killer bod? Sign us up!