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Yoga: It's an Inside Job

April 07, 2014 5 Translation missing: en.blogs.article.read_time

Answer: It’s an inside job.
Question: What is Sex?

If I read one more article that dumbs down the benefits of a yoga practice for guys to meeting someone to date or hook up with, I’m going to puke. Peep this…a yoga practice cleans out the clutter in your life—physical, emotional and mental. The benefits to your sex life are secondary. There is nothing you need to improve. No blue pill. No row boats or side-by-side bathtubs. Just you getting to know you. Yoga is a technology and it's components are apps. It helps us clear the life clutter that we worked so hard to build up over the years. If you want mind-blowing sex, you aren’t going to find it from a pill or anything external. In fact, I think you need to stop worrying about sex and focus on all of the mental and physical clutter you built up in your life. Why is sex an inside job?We have to take a trip inside ourselves and become more aware of our physical and mental states of being. It takes doing this first. We must become more connected to our own sexuality before even thinking about sharing our mind, body, emotions and attention with anyone else. We need to weed our garden.

We say, "Pulling out the weeds we give nourishment to the plant ." We pull the weeds and bury them near the plant to give it nourishment. You should rather be grateful for the weeds, because eventually they will enrich your practice. —Shunryu Suzuki

Our weeds are all the things that cause stress, anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues. This includes the macho mentality that we leaned on as a crutch for so many years. If you asked me 10 years ago, I would have said that sex is all about how long I can last, my size and the number of partners I've had. We all know that you divide the last item by 3 to get the real number. I've heard 'once you go black, you don't go back' way too many times. In the past, I'd laugh it off but then I would freak out about my sexual performance and living up to some crazy standard. Today, I think sex is about being able to be fully present for me and my partner. Presence is the key to intimacy. The two are linked. Before you can be present for your partner, you need to learn to be present for yourself. You can’t have one without the other. A yoga practice—meditation, poses, breathing or any combination of the 8 components of yoga—teaches us how to be present for ourselves. When I first started practicing yoga, the first thing I noticed were the little changes in posture and my connection to my breath. I found my breath to be a powerful ally. It can get me really excited and hyped and it can calm me down. On a deeper level (yes, I said deeper), a regular yoga practice can help you to start loving your body. As a former “husky” kid, I carried body image issues with me for over 30 years. Even as I went from 165 lbs to 215 lbs and back to 160 lbs over the past 10 years, you would think that I would have started to feel better about myself. Not at all. It wasn’t until I added a yoga practice to my lifestyle that I started to appreciate and love me for the person I am. My self-love turned into a new level of confidence. It has been much easier to be present for myself and my partners now that I'm not totally absorbed in tearing myself down with mental bombs. How does a yoga practice change a guy? After a few months of practicing, you’ll notice more obvious changes. For some people, it’s the mental responses that they have to situations like not getting pissed off while waiting in the queue at a stoplight. Next, you will notice the physical changes like weight loss or sleeping better. At some point, you will start to have those moments of clarity when you see yourself for all that you are...you stop or at least limit the negative talk that helped add to your stress. What’s all this have to do with sex? Stress and anxiety negatively impact your life in many ways. With regard to sex, they are linked to erectile dysfunction. Erectile Dysfunction & “Fight or Flight” WebMD states that 10 to 20% of erectile dysfunction (ED) cases are linked to psychological factors like stress, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. "You have trouble having an erection in the first place because you can't establish that parasympathetic ("relax and renew" system) tone,...you manage to have an erection and you accelerate the transition from parasympathetic to sympathetic ("fight or flight"), and the whole thing goes too quickly." ~Robert M. Sapolsky, Ph.D., professor of neurology at Stanford, in a 2012 talk for the Science of a Meaningful Life series. A regular yoga practice has been proven to positively impact these factors that lead to erectile dysfunction. According to a 2010 study of 24-60 year-old men, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, a regular yoga practice can improve sexual function. The improvement occurred in key areas including desire, intercourse satisfaction, performance, confidence, partner synchronization, erection, ejaculatory control and orgasm. The results of this 2010 study reflect what has been reported in numerous studies. Yoga helps:

  • Increase focus, mental clarity and awareness
  • Strengthen our ability to be present
  • Decrease anxiety & stress
  • Break the vicious cycle: stress impacted your sex life, sex issues creating stress
  • Improve blood flow throughout your entire body not just for the muscle we tend to focus on
  • Increase physical and mental flexibility

All of these impact many areas of your life from work to family and everything in between. A yoga practice may not be a cure-all. On the other hand, it helps make a positive impact of the things connected to all parts of our life...including what happened between the sheets. If you don't believe me, just listen to Woody...

Yoga is the best thing for your sex life! It keeps you limber in all kinds of ways. It teaches you to love your body and your partner’s body. But more than anything, it keeps your mind liquid, and nothing’s sexier than that. Mind and body open to possibilities. —Woody Harrelson

This is an excerpt from Flexibility Not Required: Yoga for Guys v1.08. If you liked this article, you’ll like the book.

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