Besides the obvious fact that practicing yoga regularly can increase your flexibility and give you ~ideas~ for creative new positions, yoga can truly improve your sex life by reconnecting you to your body and helping you to process your emotions.
To learn more about the connection between yoga and sex, we spoke to Erika Straub, creator of Provocative Power Yoga in Los Angeles. It’s a new class, set in a dimly lit studio to sensual, contemporary music, and it’s designed for women and men (though Straub may soon begin offering women-only classes) that strives to offer a judgment- and stress-free environment where students can get deep into their feelings — and their hip flexors.
Straub explains to HelloGiggles that after traveling to India on an Eat, Pray, Love-style trip during a tumultuous relationship, she was inspired to merge sexuality and sensuality with her yoga practice. She noticed that abstinence was a huge part of the yogic lifestyle in India, but when she returned to the U.S. to complete her Masters in Psychology (focusing on sexual trauma) she realized that yoga could provide true healing for survivors of sexual abuse, and also help others to reconnect with their own innate sexuality.
“The class is really about hip openers more than anything else,” she tells HG. “Yes, there are heart openers and yes, there are different flows, but it’s really about getting the hips open.”
Opening the hips is key, she explains, to becoming more vulnerable and accessing your emotions. As for how yoga can improve your sex life? Read on to learn more from our conversation.
HelloGiggles: Why was it important for you to infuse sexuality and sensuality into your yoga classes?
Erika Straub: I think sexuality is really misunderstood, and it has a lot more to it than just actually having sex. If you saw a woman who was really free — emotionally, sexually, soulfully — you would recognize her in a second, by the way she moves, and the way she carries herself. I think a lot of that can be developed in something like a yoga class, where you can really get in touch with your body. So it’s more about the connection with the body, and feeling safe and open in your body, than it necessarily is about going and having sex right away.
HG: How can yoga actually affect your sex life?
ES: I like to think about it in an energy sense, more than anything. I think our sex drive and our sexuality are super connected to our life force and our life drive, and I think so much of that is stored in our hips. In our culture nowadays, most people are sitting so much of the time, so that energy and that openness in the hips is getting blocked off. A lot of our fears and our anger — a lot of those negative, intense emotions — get stuck in our hips because of the physical positions we’re in throughout the day, or just being sedentary.
In yoga, focusing on opening the hips and strengthening the pelvic floor, I think it taps into a different fire and side of us that we’ve been disconnected from. So anything that’s going to open the hips, strengthening the muscles around the pelvis, especially the pelvic floor [is critical]. For women, that’s so important for orgasm — having a strong pelvic floor. And for men, on a physical, physiological level, [a strong pelvic floor] has so much to do with erections, maintaining one, and being able to perform sexually how they desire to.
HG: What’s the link between yoga and sexual trauma?
ES: A big part of yoga has to do with calming the nervous system. [Plus], you can’t help but get more connected with your body when you do yoga, so any kind of trauma [you have], you disassociate it from your body. When you’re connected with your body, there’s more of a sense of empowerment and there’s less fear of what’s going to happen to your body — there’s more trust.
Ready to take this to the mat? Straub recommends a few yoga poses that are especially great for opening the hips and aligning with your sexual self.
First, try a frog pose.
“The frog pose doesn’t require any skill or strength or much instruction, it’s more of a position you lay in,” Straub explains. “It’s something that could be held for a long time, even five to 10 minutes, though you’d have to work up to the 10 minutes because it gets pretty intense.”
Next, try a deep squat.
Warrior poses are powerful, too.
Says Straub, “Warrior I and Warrior II are really powerful for strengthening the hips as well as opening the hips, and getting connected with the lower core and the pelvic floor.”
Once you’ve mastered those, work your way up to a bridge or wheel pose.
Finally, Straub recommends inversions.
“It really shifts your energy and your blood flow. So getting the feet above the head, whether it’s just lifting the legs off the ground and letting them hang there, or it’s all the way up in a handstand or headstand.”
Now go forth and open those hips!