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 already established 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.

   Michael Castleman M.A.
   Michael Castleman M.A. has written about sexuality and sex research for 36 years. He has answered more than 10,000 sex questions for Playboy, other magazines, WebMD, and other sites. His latest sexuality book is Great Sex: The Man’s Guide to Whole-Body Sensuality (Rodale, 2008), nominated as Best Sexuality Book of the Year by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.

Editor:  Nadeem Noor

Recently, Korean researchers showed that yoga also improves sexual function for women. The researchers recruited 41 women, ages 30 to 60, who had been diagnosed with “metabolic syndrome,” a set 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 — as well as sexual impairment.

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, such as 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 satisfaction.

This was small study that can’t be considered definitive. But it’s one more brick in a growing edifice showing that yoga helps to reverse sex problems and enhance 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 (e.g., hiking, dancing, gardening, cycling, or swimming).  

I’ve taken three yoga classes a week for 17 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.