If you find yourself thinking more often of shopping lists than bedroom trysts, it might be time to tune up your sex drive.
Most women—some research estimates almost half the female population—suffer from low libido at some point in their lives. But what causes women to lose that lovin’ feeling? Physical and psychological factors could be to blame—illnesses like thyroid disorders and Cushing’s disease; anything that causes fatigue; medications or cancer treatment; anxiety, depression, and stress; or menopause and hormonal imbalances.
Because sex is very much a mind-body connection, especially for women, daily chores, kids, and work or relationship tensions can find their way into the bedroom and put a damper on those amorous feelings. Studies suggest that high blood pressure can also have a negative effect on one’s sex life and not just because of the libido-zapping side effects of the medication doctors generally prescribe. Apparently high blood pressure may decrease blood flow to the genitals by actually changing the circulatory patterns in the body.
Luckily mind-body exercises do help. Exercise for both men and women can increase libido by relieving those tensions and helping to regulate blood pressure. Equally important: Aerobic exercise and yoga both can increase blood flow to the pelvic area. While we know what that means for a man, for a woman the increased blood flow tones and nourishes the vaginal tissues.
A consistent yoga practice (at least two to three times a week) provides even more benefits than exercise. On a physical level, yoga increases energy, strength, and flexibility. Certain poses open up the hips and groins, stretch out the lower back, and tone the abdominals. Other poses claim to stimulate the reproductive organs and increase circulation to the whole pelvic region. Women can also benefit from poses that tone and then stimulate the adrenal glands, which often become exhausted through stress, postpartum, and during menopause.
But often a decreased libido has more to do with self-esteem or emotional issues than any particular physical challenge. Yoga helps you get in touch with what’s going on inside of you in the privacy of your own yoga mat. It allows you to let go of any judgments you have about your own body, get to know it as an ally and not an adversary, and come away feeling renewed and more sensual.
Doing yoga together—as partners—can be a sweet way to connect with each other and have some fun. Experiment with your favorite poses—do standing poses back to back or face to face; inhale and exhale slowly in sync with one another’s breath, or create your own modifications.
Creating Physical Intimacy: Partner poses to reconnect
If you’re ready to create your own dopamine-norepinephrine cocktail and jumpstart your libido, we’ve got the recipe for you. The ingredients you’ll need are a loving partner and the physical and emotional flexibility to move into these poses.
Seated Spine Stretch
Sit with your back to your partner, legs open slightly wider than your shoulders, matching your tailbones, vertebrae, shoulder blades, and back of the head. Nod your chin toward your chest, rolling forward (spine flexion), unzipping your spine from your partner’s spine. Slide your hands forward onto the floor to help support the weight of the trunk. Reverse to zip your spine up against your partner.
Kneel facing your partner. Press together the front of your thighs, your pubic bones, the front of your abdominals, and your lower ribs. Embrace your partner by placing your hands on the back of her/his pelvis. Either look into each other’s eyes or cradle your head on your partner’s shoulder. As you inhale turn your gaze and face up toward the ceiling and peel your torso away from your partner’s, keeping your pubic bones and the front of your thighs touching. Move your palms to the back of your pelvis and then down to your heels in order to support your spine and keep it extending long. Image: A fountain that starts in the common base of the two pelvises pressed together. The stream of water shoots up and arcs backward, raining to earth.