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  • Writer's pictureMiranda Wylie

How Yoga Improved My Sex Life

As click bate-y as the title sounds, I’m writing from a place of sincerity. Yoga improved my sex life. Not by way of a certain pose (though I do have spicy hip opener sequence to recommend) but rather yoga allows me to be in ongoing consent with my body. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s get into it.

 

seated yoga

Even if you have never taken a yoga class, you’ve probably been in some form of group activity where an instructor leads participants. Depending on the circumstances of this group activity there may be more or less of a need to perform. If, for example, the group activity is a team bonding experience for work, the awareness of being watched by your colleagues may inform your actions. However, even if you signed for a class just because you wanted to and are a stranger in the space, the desire to be a “good student” may still be present. Wanting to be recognized with a metaphorical gold star from the instructor (and the room) is a deeply engrained desire.

 

We want to be seen a certain way. In a yoga class we may want to be seen as confident, capable, flexible, strong, able to touch our toes, able to bend in complex shapes with ease, but, like, not too cocky about it. We want to be seen in the bedroom the same way, maybe aside from specifically being able to touch our toes (though flexibility is a bedroom flex).

 

This script tracking how we want to be seen runs in the background of our minds. The script is so covert we may not even be aware of it. It is background noise. It is people pleasing. It is dominant culture’s programming of societal norms that may include scripts on masculinity and femininity among other things.

 

If you are feeling, “Woah! Slow down. That’s a lot. How can you be so sure?” I agree, it is a lot. I know because I live(d) it. I’ve been practicing yoga for 25 years and a solid 15 of those years I practiced from a people pleasing perspective without realizing it. Meaning I paid more attention to the perception of me as the “good student” than what felt good in my body. If I was a people pleaser in a public yoga class where I was a stranger, you can be assured I was a people pleaser in other areas of my life.

 

People pleasing is the learned messaging that another’s needs are more important than our own. And what can happen over time as we engage in people pleasing habits is that we lose ourselves. What does people pleasing look like in a yoga class? Moving as instructed without checking in if you can physically do a pose and furthermore if you even want to do a pose. That desire for the metaphorical gold star can lead to injury or even just leaving a class feeling ick.

 

I only began to change my "good student" tendencies in yoga when I was given permission. Yes, you read that correctly. I had to be given permission. I was enrolled in a 10-week yin yoga workshop. By the time the class began, my circumstances had changed. I was in grief. I didn’t know if I could “hold it together” for the class duration and I didn’t want to disrupt or ruin the environment for others. I communicated this to the teacher via email. She wrote back, “I think this will be a good place for you right now.”

 

Grief is a portal. And this grief, though I didn’t have the words for it at the time, was a portal for dismantling people pleasing. What did this look like? I listened to the teacher’s instructions and tried to conjure a felt sense of the pose. Because I had a long history of yoga this conjuring a feeling of a pose was sometimes enough to determine if I was a yes or no to move into that pose. If I wasn’t sure, I tried. For example, if instructed to take the a down dog pose, I took action to get into the posture and tuned into how my body felt. Sometimes just taking the first steps to get into a pose invoked a “nope” silently muttered to myself. Sometimes I questioned my resistance, got into the pose and tuned in again: Do I want to be doing this? Will this benefit me? Is there something to learn here? It was constant and consistent checking in with what my body wanted to do in that moment.

 

I once stayed in child’s pose for half the class. Another time I stayed seated and softly wept, never taking a single pose that was instructed. You know what happened? Nothing and everything. Nothing happened as in I wasn’t mocked for not doing the poses. And everything happened as in I left class feeling good, grounded, and connected to myself. No residual back pain from pushing myself or strange sense of ick that is hard to articulate but has something to do with a boundary being crossed.

 

For duration of this 10 week workshop, I was in consent with my body, my grief and the teacher. That last piece is critical. I was able to let go of being a “good student” doing as instructed because of the facilitation and guidance created by the teacher. She spoke to the room reminding us that all poses are an invitation, not a requirement. She normalized my difference. I was able to embody my grief on the mat because I felt safe to do so.


The experience of showing up to yoga in a non-performative way changed me and changed how I thought about yoga. It’s no surprise that years later I sought a 200-hour trauma informed yoga teacher training certification from this teacher who first gave me permission not to perform, the person who taught me that yoga exists beyond a pose.

 

OK, OK but how does yoga improve your sex life?

 

Take everything written above and replace the word teacher with partner/lover. Replace down dog pose with reverse cowgirl or another sex position. Get it?

 

In learning not to consider the metaphorical gold star I desired from others, I was better able to center myself and understand what my body wanted. What does my body want is a very different question than what will people think of me? And fuck looking for external validation. I give myself all the gold stars!


tree pose

Yoga offers a way to engage in ongoing consent with how we want to move our body. The more we are in consent with how our body moves (down dog / reverse cowgirl), the more embodied we become and the more likely we are to experience pleasure. Pleasure is foundational to sex. Ergo more pleasure = better sex.

 

In yoga, we have many opportunities to ask: Is this what I want to do? Do I want to only because the teacher is suggesting it? Do I believe my body can or can’t do it? That I will or won’t enjoy it? And is this belief based on anatomy or narrative? If narrative, is this the same story I’ve been telling about my body for the past week, years, decades? Can I release attachment to outcome? Am I willing to try? Can I trust myself to stop if my yes becomes a no? This is ongoing consent. Practice it hour by hour in yoga class and then see what changes in your sex life. Maybe nothing or everything with change.

 

To be fair, I wasn't having bad sex before I dismantled people pleasing patterns. But now, I’m having more fulfilling sex. I'm better able to communicate my boundaries, and inquire about my partner’s. Being in ongoing consent with my body has allowed me to understand an intimacy that is invitational, collaborative, vulnerable and deliberate and interdependent rather than co-dependent. This is the foundation of the Selfish Sexuality embodiment revolution. Yoga has been a tool for developing this foundation and putting the power in my own hands. It can be for you, too.


If this sentiment is vibing with you, find me teaching Yin Yoga for Embodied Intimacy at 3rd Eye Meditation Lounge, Fridays at 9am. And all this vibe, sans yoga poses in my sex and relationship coaching sessions.


Photography by Jackie Klusmeyer

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