It can be difficult to keep a centered, grounded, spiritual outlook on life in the modern world. Holding closely to your spiritual center while living a physical life has always been complicated – there’s a reason why spiritual people have traditionally spent time in seclusion – but the deeply conflicted views of today’s society towards even the most basic facts of our humanity have a tendency to creep into our unconscious thoughts without our noticing. The natural sex drive is particularly hard hit, twisted by the dual messages surrounding us: the body is dirty and must be kept covered, yet the most valuable commodity is sex appeal. Yoga can help to bring us into alignment with a healthier, more balanced view of sex, giving us the tools we need to resist the confused messages about sexuality and sensuality we receive simply by existing in our society.
Reconnecting with our physical selves: Most people have an adversarial relationship with their body. It’s too slow, too ill, too fat, too much or too little of something; even healthy activities like exercise are usually promoted in terms of changing your body rather than embracing health. Although spirituality is sometimes seen as separate from the physical world, this is untrue, and when we disconnect from our bodies the spiritual element of our sex drive suffers. Yoga allows us to remember the ways in which our body supports us, and the sheer pleasure that can be found through inhabiting it fully.
Towards a spirituality of the physical: On a related note, yoga is inherently both a physical and a spiritual exercise, one which embodies the possibilities of a spirituality which does not reject our bodies as “less than”. For those who find themselves at a loss when trying to discover how their sex life can have a truly spiritual dimension, yoga practice can teach by example. After all, at its most basic sex is exercise with a partner, and yoga shows us how much meaning can be present in simple “exercise”.
Addressing physical issues: Modern medicine has reduced some of the stigma related to male sexual problems, but the issue still plagues many happy couples and turns spiritual moments into stressful ones. Although all men suffering from sexual problems like erectile dysfunction should speak to their doctor about conventional treatments like medication, yoga can provide a complementary boost in overcoming sexual difficulties. Relaxation of smooth muscle tissue is critical to proper functioning, but this can be interfered with by stress and anxiety; yoga can not only reduce overall anxiety levels, but also provides the tools to relax again during times of heightened stress. Of course, while medication and stress reduction can treat the symptoms, the causes of sexual issues (smoking, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more) can also be addressed through yoga, making it a truly holistic way to treat any sexual issues which may arise.
Increasing flexibility and decreasing pain levels, physically and mentally: It is difficult to open yourself to a spiritual perspective when you’re uncomfortable, in pain, or overly conscious of what you can and cannot do comfortably. As it encourages greater flexibility and may aid in controlling pain levels for those suffering from chronic conditions, yoga clears these concerns from the path towards a more spiritual sex life. In a similar vein, the self-confidence and increased self-esteem built by practicing yoga can help quiet the inner pain of wondering what we look like, if our partner really likes us, or other little voices which can draw us back to ego and away from connecting spiritually.
Holistic spirituality: When we increase our attention to spirituality in one facet of our lives, we will naturally find our spiritual outlook widening to encompass other actions and emotions. Sex, as a natural part of our lives, is not immune to this; it is difficult to find spirituality in our sex lives when we’re not spiritual at other moments, but it is likewise difficult to keep spirituality outside of the bedroom when we begin to integrate it into our worldview. The practice of yoga is one way to introduce greater levels of spiritual awareness into our day-to-day life, allowing us to fully access a life in which the sacred and the physical are truly intertwined.
It’s no stretch — Yoga may benefit heart disease (Harvard Health Publications)
Students find peace with yoga (University of Cincinnati)
Wellness: Spiritual Wellness (UC Riverside)
Yoga: Brief History of an Idea (Princeton)
Yoga for Smoking Cessation (ClinicalTrials.gov)
Yoga reduces stress; now it’s known why (University of California)