You’ve probably considered a yoga class once or twice — maybe a friend tried to convince you — but for one reason or another it never stuck and you’re still skeptical. Consider, then, one huge bonus of the practice you may not be aware of: It can improve your sex life.
Here’s how it works: The key to yoga’s claim on your sex drive is in the breathing technique used during yoga, pranayama. It releases the same chemicals in the brain as sex does, meaning you can leave the studio post-yoga with enhanced sexual desire. Plus, during your practice, certain postures increase blood flow to the pelvic region, lighting up your sexual response. The heart rate of yogis in deep meditative states can even mirror that of frenzied lovers.
You don’t even need to go to a class to reap the benefits, either. Here are five poses you can do anywhere to get you started — in more ways than one.
1. Chair Pose
Chair pose engages your pelvic region by forcing you to lift your pelvic floor as you lower your tailbone. It’s the same muscles that are used in Kegel exercises and it leads to more intense control of sexual organs.
Do it: Start with your feet together, toes touching. Sit your hips back and reach your arms alongside your ears, like you are about to sit in a chair. Lengthen your tailbone down to keep from crunching in the low back, lifting the pelvic floor to elongate the spine.
2. Squat Pose
This deep squatting pose keeps pelvic joints healthy by forcing you to work your inner thigh muscles, pull up the pelvic floor, and engage your abdominals. It’s also thought to stimulate your sex glands and spleen.
Do it: From a standing position, place your feet hips-width distance apart with the toes turned out. Bring palms together in front of your heart, and slowly lower down toward the mat to come to hover just above the floor. Place your biceps just behind your knees to spread them wider and to help lengthen your spine, reaching your chest up to the sky.
3. Cobra Pose
Cobra pose stretches out your sex organs and increases blood circulation to the reproductive organs.
Do it: Lie on your stomach, feet together and pointed to the back of the room. Place your hands alongside your ribs for stability, press your pelvis into the mat, and use your back muscles to lift your chest off the mat. Gaze just six inches in front of you to keep from crunching your cervical spine in your neck. Try lifting your hands off of the mat to lift higher. Lower slowly.
4. Seated Wide-Legged Straddle
This wide-legged forward fold increases libido by releasing tension in the groin muscles and heightening energy levels by signaling blood flow to the pelvic region.
Do it: Extend each leg to a 45-degree angle from your hip joint and flex your feet. Take a deep breath in, lengthening the torso. On the exhale, fold forward, reaching for your toes. Keep the spine lengthened as if someone is pulling the crown of your head forward. Breath deeply into the crease created at your pelvis.
5. Breathing Techniques
Fast breathing shuts down the cortex of the brain, which controls higher thinking, and allows your primitive brain and limbic system, responsible for sexual responses, to activate and release sex hormones.
Do it: Take a deep breath in, and exhale through the nose in short, sharp breaths, pumping the diaphragm as you count to 50. Take a deep breath in and out. Repeat. You can do this in a seated position, such as lotus, where you are seated with your legs crossed, or while holding other positions.