These 5-Minute Stretches Could Transform Your Relationship
Those who practice yoga swear by its ability to increase flexibility, mindfulness, and even memory, but there’s one hidden benefit you might not be aware of. Yoga expert Karly Treacy explains that certain poses flex and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. The result? Better sex. “Considering that orgasms are the result of muscular contractions, we want to be certain that all of the muscles that are responsible for sexual satisfaction are awake, flexible, strong, and capable of functioning to their maximum potential,” she says.
Stronger muscles aren’t the only benefit. A 2009 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine discovered women who practiced the Eastern techniques of mindfulness that are found in yoga reported an increase in desire and arousal. Ready to work out? Below, Treacy names the top seven yoga poses that will benefit your relationship big time.
While this pose might seem basic, Treacy says the benefits of deep breathing are underrated. “Tight pelvic floor muscles are often a result of not breathing fully,” she says. “The simple act of taking a full inhale and filling the lungs to capacity will stretch the diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles.”
Try it: As you inhale, visualize the gills of a fish and how they expand out to the sides as fish draw their breath in. As you exhale completely, feel the ribs come back to center and the pelvic floor subtly lift. Continue for 10 breaths.
“There is a close relationship between the hip adductors (inner thighs) and the pelvic floor muscles,” she explains. “Tight adductors make the pelvic floor muscles far less elastic. We can change the pliability of the pelvic floor muscles by stretching the inner thighs in well-supported postures.”
Try it: Lie on your back and bring the soles of the feet to touch. Open your legs, resting your knees on two yoga blocks or rolled-up hand towels for support. Relax here for a few deep breaths.
Next, add a Kegel exercise to lengthen and strengthen the pelvic muscles. Focus on the muscles between your sit bones and inhale. As you exhale, draw the muscles together as if they were the two elevator doors closing to meet in the middle; then lift and release.
Now imagine the pelvic floor muscles between your pubic bone and tailbone. Inhale, and as you exhale, draw those muscles together to meet in the middle in the same elevator doorway, lift, and release. Finally, draw all four “elevator doors” together at once, meeting at one point in the middle; then lift. Repeat this five times.
“The runner’s lunge lengthens all of the muscles in the front of your thighs all the way up into the deep muscles of the low belly that reside in the pelvic bowl,” explains Treacy. All you need to try this pose is a mat and, in some cases, two yoga blocks.
Try it: Step one foot forward so that your knee is stacked over your ankle, and let your back leg rest on the mat. Use both hands to frame the front foot—if your hands don’t touch the ground, try using yoga blocks. Then, let the hips shift forward. Check to see that the front knee is directly over the ankle, and breathe deeply in this pose for 12 to 15 breaths.
According to Treacy, this lunge opens up the inner thighs and works the surrounding muscles, helping to lengthen the pelvic floor.
Try it: Stand with your feet about a leg’s distance apart. Bend into one knee, while maintaining the connection of both heels to the floor. Then bring your hands to the floor or blocks. Keep the other leg straight, and rotate it so your toes point to the ceiling. Hold for eight breaths; then switch sides. Repeat once more per side.
This hamstring stretch “opens up the whole back of the leg, from the heel of the foot to the bottom of the bum,” she says, activating crucial muscles.
Try it: Start in a kneeling pose, then extend one leg out in front. Keep the leg as straight as possible and flex your foot. The back leg hip should be directly over your knee. Hold for 10 to 12 breaths while keeping your back straight.
“This will stretch and lengthen the outer hip muscles that surround the pelvis,” says Treacy, and is an excellent pose to do while practicing mindfulness.
Try it: Place a bolster or a folded blanket perpendicular to your yoga mat. To come into pigeon pose, place the front leg shin just in front of the bolster. Extend your other leg straight back from the hip and roll the inner thigh up toward the ceiling. Lean into this pose as deeply as your body allows. Make sure that you can relax and soften here; otherwise the muscles will continue to grip. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths and switch sides.
“Bridge pose stretching the fronts of the thighs and into the iliopsoas system that lines the bowl of the pelvis,” she explains. “If the iliopsoas is short and tight, it can result in pelvic pain, making sex uncomfortable.”
Try it: Lie on your back, and position your feet hip distance apart with knees bent. Make sure your toes point forward. As you breathe in, lift your hips up. Walk the shoulders underneath you so you can interlace the hands under your body. Look directly up at the ceiling to support your neck. Engage the back of your legs and lift the chest toward your chin. Hold for 10 breaths; then repeat three times.
Shop yoga essentials below to try the poses at home.