Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How Yoga Can Improve Your Sex Life

I'm delighted to introduce, Lisa Redding's guest blog on how yoga can improve your sex life...

There are many reasons to practise yoga, and many short and long-term benefits. They include better general fitness, improved mental focus, increased energy levels and decreased stress along with a myriad of other mental, physical and social benefits. Did you know that yoga can also improve your sex life?

It is not a common reason to begin practising yoga, but many people find it is a welcome, if surprising, extra benefit. Many people find that practising yoga leads to an increase in their sex drive and in better sex. People can find that they have better orgasms and more emotional closeness during sex. Couples who have been having problems with their sex life can find that yoga helps them rekindle their old desires. There is even evidence that yoga can help men who have been having problems with premature ejaculation.

There are some fairly obvious superficial parallels between yoga and sex. Both are activities that involve physical, mental and sometimes spiritual effort together. Yoga’s ability to help improve the mind and body in various ways should, by reason, also help improve someone’s sex life. There is, however, more to it than that. Studies have found some very specific connections between practising yoga and improving one’s sex life.

Physical Effects
Yoga improves general health, and so it is likely to improve general sexual function. Benefits of yoga can include improvements in the cardiovascular system and better muscle tone, which tend to just make our bodies work better in general. Better blood flow through the body can lead to more intense orgasms and can help men maintain better erections. Being more flexible can mean being able to try out more sexual positions. Being stronger can mean you can cope better with the physical demands of sex, and have sex for longer. Practising yoga regularly can often mean you have more energy in general, and of course, that can be useful during sex.

Certain yoga poses can have quite specific physical effects, especially the Mula Bandha, or root lock. This acts in a similar way to pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles around the pelvis and genitals, making them stronger. In women in particular, that can help lead to explosive orgasms.

Mental and Emotional Effects
Yoga’s physical effects, such as having improved orgasms, are also linked to the mental and emotional effects – as you would expect, given that the connection between mind and body is so fundamental to yoga practice. On a quite basic level, yoga tends to led to increased body confidence, which can lead to increased sexual confidence. Practising yoga also helps people focus on intimacy when they are having sex. This is where yoga links to tantra, although that does not mean that practising yoga means you will have tantric sex (although it could be a good place to start). However, practising yoga means that you tend to be better able to clear the mind of chatter and negative thoughts, and focus better on the connection between you. When the mind and the body are fully relaxed, sex tends to be more intense and emotional.

Yoga has also been shown to help men with premature ejaculation. One study compared the effectiveness of yoga with the drug fluoxetine (Prozac - anti-depressants are often prescribed for premature ejaculation) on men who suffered from premature ejaculation, and found it to be more effective. The men in the study practised a number of yoga poses for three months, and were found to have general improvements in their sex lives as well as being able to delay orgasm. It seems that yoga can help people have a healthy sex life in both general, and quite specific, ways. Some people might find that their sex life improves as a side-effect of yoga, but yoga can sometimes be used as a treatment for sexual problems.

While you should see plenty of benefits to your sex life from practising yoga separately, practising yoga together could become, like sex, part of your life together as a couple. Some yoga poses need two people to work together to help each other, and doing that together can help build trust in each other. Yoga should not be seen just as a tool for having better sex, but as part of a holistic approach to improving your lives, both individually and together. Though naturally, better sex can be a very enjoyable part of that!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Today's post is brought to you by the number 7...

It’s 3:42am on 8th July 2012 and I’m called on to write, I will not be able to rest until I do. I have never wished to speak about my experience on 7th July 2005 while I was going to work except in the most private of situations and I don’t wish to express it now. We all have our stories that we all carry with us. Our experience, like tiny shards of coloured glass, make a stained glass window for light to stream through in the most unique way. It is who we are, this experience is part of who I am as much as everything else which has happened to me. It is me.

Seven appears to be symbolic. Seven anniversaries have passed since what happened that day. These seven years are bookended by my country winning the Olympic bid and now being ready to deliver The Games. Seven years and my body has completely renewed itself of all its tissues. I am literally a new person. Yet I still carry the experience in every fibre of my being. What I left behind on that train made space for me to carry what my friend and hero once described as my 52 silent friends.

Words never really seem enough and yet, words are sometimes all there are. Always when I have felt like I had nothing left to give, I reached out for help. When I thought there was no help, I reached out. When I didn’t know I needed help, it came. While I sit here now I realise I had the words, they already exist and have done for centuries, they dropped into my head this morning and have been repeating themselves in my mind all day.


लॉका समस्ता सुखिनो भवंतु

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bavantu

"May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and my the thoughts words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all"

May -  this is my intention. I may not get it every moment of every day. However, in the act forgetting is the act of remembering. I will ease up on myself when sometimes, oftentimes I miss the mark.

All beings everywhere - even just within myself this asks much, yet this is what I truly believe I am being asked to step up to do. Can I accept all parts of myself: the part which forgets, the parts which gets angry, the parts which I try and hide. All of me. And all beings, that’s harder still. Every single being is here because they are meant to be. When I don’t except parts of me, when I pretend some beings are separate from me I become disconnected. When this happens, the darkness has won. If I miss one of those shards of coloured glass, light cannot shine fully through me. Therefore, I welcome and acknowledge all parts of myself and all beings.

Be happy and free
- It is our nature to be happy and free. Even on days when it feels inappropriate or our outward expression cannot be one which is joyful. We are in the uniquely privileged position of a human birth. Happy and free is what we are, this what we are meant to be. This is the light which shines through the window of my experience. Even when my window gets dirty and the light isn’t so bright, it is always there. I will shine my light.

And my the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute - thoughts, words and actions are powerful. Thoughts are unmanifested words, actions are words becoming reality. What I think, say and do is important. I choose to the best of my ability to choose my thoughts, words and actions carefully with the knowledge that I am happy and free, just like everyone else.

In some way - “No man is an island, entire of itself. Each man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” - John Donne. My thoughts, words and actions make up part of the consciousness of humanity, a part of our collective stained glass window. We are many and we are one.

To that happiness and freedom for all - As much as my nature is to be happy and free, so is it every other being on the planet. Every single one. To ignore one is to diminish all.

To my 52 silent friends, I carry you with me always. And I set this intention for you.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bavantu

Monday, 2 July 2012

Balancing on the paradox

The 12 segments of the Zodiac keep turning and we find ourselves deep within the Cancerian section of the zodiac. I take a peek at star signs occasionally to see what I can learn. Cancerians are known for being a bundle of contradictions, living life on the turn of their emotions. The yogi learns to balance these contradictions in the eternal paradox that it means to be human, which is: how can we be in the body and yet be free? That’s what spiritual practice is for.

Because, if we can find a place where two seemingly contradictory things meet, we have found the place of balance. And that’s the place where freedom resides. This is quite literally why we do yoga poses. The further away we take ourselves from where we feel centred, standing upright, to turning ourselves upside down, eg handstand we completely change our perspective and have to move into where it feel uncomfortable. That way, we can find our way back, whenever we get taken off centre, by whatever life throws at us. I love the quote by T.S. Eliot, one of my favourite explanations of this eternal paradox:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.