Yoga is a form of exercise many people swear by. As well as toning and stretching the body, it also promotes mindfulness. The incorporated breath work helps you switch off your mind and be present.
In recent years, more men have become interested in seeing what all the fuss is about. After noticing the initial signs of physical and mental shifts, some guys fall in love with yoga and keep up with their practice, at times in addition to other physical activities.
A balance of body, mind and spirit is one of the many health benefits of yoga for men. Yoga poses and other body postures, such as asanas, promote physical and mental well-being. These benefits can also bring about positive changes in your sex life and your sexual health in general.
Yoga can reduce stress and anxiety
Yoga is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Poses can range from easy and relaxing to more physically challenging. The practice can also incorporate calming techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, according to Brandt Passalacqua, a yoga teacher and the director at Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy in Northampton, Massachusetts.
"Lowering stress and anxiety levels is beneficial to your health, making you less likely to experience certain other health issues," he said, adding that decreasing stress and anxiety can also improve men's sexual health. "Feeling the pressure of stress and anxiety can lead to performance issues and lower sexual satisfaction. If you feel happier and more confident, you could experience better sexual functioning."
Yoga can also reduce pain and improve mobility and agility, explained Susie Gronski, P.T., D.P.T., a physical therapist and men's pelvic and sexual health specialist in Asheville, North Carolina, and a medical advisor at Aeroflow Urology.
"Mindfulness-based stress-reduction strategies like yoga have been shown to counter the negative effects of chronic stress," she said, referencing several studies.
A 2017 meta-analysis included 42 studies that reviewed the effectiveness of yoga asanas, with or without mindfulness-based stress reduction, compared to an active control group. The study concluded that practicing yoga was associated with positive changes in the body that promote relaxation, such as:
- Reduced evening and waking cortisol
- Improved ambulatory systolic blood pressure
- A lower resting heart rate
- High-frequency heart rate variability
- Lower fasting blood glucose
- Healthier cholesterol
- Improved low-density lipoprotein
Gronski concluded that one of the side effects of these positive changes is improved sexual health and well-being.
"When you're feeling better mentally and physically, you're more likely to engage in activities that you enjoy, including sex," she said.
Yoga can boost mood and improve mental health
Yoga is not only a great way to decrease stress and anxiety levels; it can also improve your mood and mental health in general. Body awareness and meditation practices, in particular, allow you to be more in touch with both your physical and mental self, Passalacqua explained.
"Checking in with yourself, staying active and performing relaxing poses makes it easier to keep your mood and mental health in balance," he said. "Being in a better mood can help increase sexual desire, satisfaction and performance. If you learn to heighten your awareness of your body and mind, you will better understand what you want and need to enjoy sex."
A 2010 study on yoga and male sexual function included 65 male participants ages 24 to 60. They practiced one hour of yoga daily for 12 weeks and experienced self-reported improvements in all areas of sexual function. The survey included desire, intercourse satisfaction, orgasm, performance, confidence, partner synchronization, erection and ejaculatory control.
Yoga can strengthen and tone muscles
Using only your body weight, yoga helps keep your muscles toned and strong, which is key to maintaining overall health. Practicing yoga allows you to remain active, agile and mobile, especially as you age. Building muscle during yoga sessions can also help support other forms of exercise and fitness, Passalacqua said.
"When it comes to men's sexual health, it can be especially beneficial to strengthen the pelvic muscles. This can improve erectile function and ejaculatory control," he said. "There are a number of yoga poses that can help build pelvic floor strength, such as chair pose, warrior II and apanasana."
Yoga can have ejaculatory benefits
Gronski believes physical and mental health are inextricably woven into sexual health and well-being. It's natural to presume that any improvements in these areas can also improve sexual health, but empirical evidence to support this theory is sparse.
There is research, however, that compares the effectiveness of yoga and medication treatment for premature ejaculation. It's just one study, but "it shows yoga can be a feasible, nonpharmacological treatment option for premature ejaculation," Gronski said.
Of the 68 participants in that study, 38 men were assigned to the yoga group and 30 were given the medication fluoxetine (Prozac). The yoga group had to perform 12 varying yoga postures—including specific breath practices—for one hour a day, and separate pelvic floor-specific exercises over 12 weeks.
The study authors observed that all 38 men in the yoga group and 25 out of 30 men in the medication group reported improved ejaculatory control.
Yoga can increase circulation
Good blood circulation is vital for your overall health, especially in promoting organ function, healing wounds, and supporting brain and heart health. Yoga is an easily accessible practice to increase blood circulation by moving your body, Passalacqua noted.
"Reduced blood flow can also contribute to erectile dysfunction," he said. "Yoga can help get your blood flowing throughout the body, and you can also choose poses, like janu sirsasana, which target blood flow in the lower abdomen and groin areas."
In some instances, men have no trouble getting blood to the penis; rather, the blood won't stay there long enough to sustain an erection satisfactory for sex. In those instances, a wearable device may help. Eddie® is an FDA-registered Class II medical device designed to treat erectile dysfunction and improve male sexual performance. Its specific shape optimizes blood flow, putting pressure on the veins of the penis but not the arteries, allowing blood to flow freely into the penis and retaining it there longer.
While flowing through the asanas improves blood flow around the body, the emotional advantages are essential to what makes yoga great for your libido, according to Sarah Drai, a yoga instructor at TriYoga studio in London and a co-founder of the Yogi2Me app.
"Mula bandha is a yogic concept that is involved with channeling and encouraging the flow of energy through the root chakra. It also helps to tone the pelvic floor muscles, which can improve the intensity of your orgasms," she said.
The benefits of yoga intertwine with one another, but there are some particular men's sexual health advantages to the practice. Studies indicate that maintaining a yoga practice can improve lower urinary tract symptoms, reduce prostate cancer risk and improve quality of life in men with prostate cancer, Gronski concluded.