Warning: Not your typical yoga article. Need an open and inquiring mind to read further!
From comedy to pharmaceuticals to sutras, sex and yoga have a really complex and dynamic relationship in Western culture. From one end of the spectrum to another, you can run the gamut of emotions, religions, approaches and misunderstandings. You can also see amazing confirmations of the benefits that asana, pranayama and meditation have on a yogi’s most intimate of activities.
As I first grazed through the vast fields of internet information, at first I was met by a plethora of articles offering up what I felt to be a pretty homogenous offering of mostly the same information about how yoga can better your sex life. There were asana prescriptions and testimonials, but I yearned to get more specific. Were there actual studies out there that confirmed what yogis from long ago seemed to already know?
One fascinating study I found was about the problem of premature ejaculations. A group of scientists in India studied the effectiveness of yoga versus the pharmaceutical drug Fluoxetine, published (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118496281/abstract ) in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2007. The results were amazing! A full 100% of participants in the yoga group saw statistically significant improvement in their problem, while 82.3% on the drug Fluoxetine saw improvement.
Intrigued, I dove deeper into the archives of the internet. What other proof could I find that yoga does exactly what I know it does? Next I found a study on yoga for women with what is called the Female Sexual Function Index (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122683087/abstract) conducted by doctors from India but also doctors from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. The FSFI includes desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain. What this study found that with completion of a 12 week program of yoga, all women found that their FSFI score improved significantly in all six areas, with the improvement being more noticeable in older women above the age of 45.
Could there be still more? While it was great to see this confirmation of yogic science, I wanted to know more about what was specifically benefiting the participants in this study – was it asana, pranayama, meditation? As I researched further, it started becoming apparent that mindfulness was a key component. According to this study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18507718) done by the University of British Columbia, the aim of this study was to adapt an existing mindfulness-based education plan for women with sexual problems unrelated to cancer (where the bulk of study has been focused before). Not surprisingly, there again was actual, measurable physiological and mental improvement in problems due to this mindfulness program. Even the participants said that the mindfulness portion of this program was, in their perception, the most effective part of the therapy.
Clearly, these are great examples where science and yoga are in agreement. It seems that yoga has direct application on the quality and effect of our own sexuality as yogis.