Five years ago, I posted a blog entry that described a small pilot study showing that after 12 weeks of yoga, men age 24 to 60 rated their sexual functioning “significantly improved.” I gingerly suggested that yoga might improve sexual function and satisfaction for both men and women.
Back then, the evidence was thin, just that one report. However, I felt confident of my assertion. Many studies have shown that yoga reduces stress, blood pressure, and cholesterol, improves well-being, helps control Type-2 diabetes, promotes deep relaxation, and aids in weight control—all of which improve sexual function.
Recently, Korean researchers showed that yoga improves women’s sexual function. The researchers recruited 41 women, age 30 to 60, who had been diagnosed with “metabolic syndrome,” a group of strong risk factors for diabetes and heart disease including: high cholesterol, high triglycerides (blood fats), high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abdominal obesity (pot belly). Previous research has shown that as the severity of metabolic syndrome increases, so does the risk of diabetes and heart disease—and sexual impariment.
Twenty of the women participated in hour-long yoga classes twice a week for 12 weeks. The rest did not. The yoga class involved two dozen standard yoga poses, among them: standing forward bend (uttanasana), seated forward bend (pashimottanasna), triangle (trikonasana), and corpse pose (shavasana).
Compared with the control group, the yoga class participants experienced considerable reductions in cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure—and significant increases in sexual arousal, vaginal lubrication, and overall sexual function and satisfadtion.
Now, this is a small study, so it can’t be considered definitive. But it’s one more brick in a growing edifice showing that yoga helps reverse sex problems and enhances lovemaking.
When it comes to enhancing sex, yoga is far from unique. Any regular moderate exercise program that reduces stress, promotes deep relaxation, and improves strength, stamina, flexibility, and balance can be presumed to have similar benefits, for example: hiking, dancing, gardening, cycling, or swimming.
I’ve taken three yoga classes a week for seventeen years, and my wife is a longtime yoga teacher. Even if yoga had no impact on sexuality, we’d still value its many contributions to health and well-being. The small but growing literature touting yoga’s contributions to sexual vitality is a bonus reason to practice the ancient discipline.
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Dhikav, V. et al. “Yoga in Male Sexual Functioning: a Non-comparative Pilot Study,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2010) 7:3460.
Esposito, K. et al. “Metabolic Syndrome: A Cause of Sexual Dysfunction in Women,” International Journal of Impotence Research (2005) 17:224.
Kim, H.N. et al. “Effects of Yoga on Sexual Function in Women with Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2013) 10:2741.
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Mahajan, A.S. et al. “Lipid Profile of Coronary risk Following Yogic Lifestyle Intervention,” Indian Heart Journal (1999) 51:37.
White, JR et al. “Enhanced Sexual Behavior in Exercising Men,” Archives of Sexual Behavior (1990) 19:193.