What Science Says about Enlightened Sex
Women who practiced the Eastern techniques of mindfulness and yoga reported improvements in levels of arousal and desire, as well as better orgasms. Image
Credit: Dreamstime

Another year, another batch of resolutions: eat right, exercise more, pay bills on time etc. All good in theory, but potentially dull in practice.

In 2009, then, resolve to have better sex. According to a recent review article in the Dec. 3 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, sexually unsatisfied women who practiced the Eastern techniques of mindfulness and yoga reported improvements in levels of arousal and desire, as well as better orgasms. In addition, yoga has been found to effectively treat premature ejaculation in men.

Eastern practices have been touted as sexually beneficial for years — as the article states, the techniques have "their origin in the Kama Sutra of the fourth to sixth centuries."

But authors Lori A. Brotto of the University of British Columbia, Michael Krychman of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, and Pamela Jacobson of The Healing Sanctuary in Tustin, Calif., think that recent research findings warrant increased attention, and respect, from Western medicine.

Mindfulness — an awareness of the present moment, also a key component in yoga — proved especially beneficial in a study, cited in the article, that asked women to study pennies in detail. The coins were then collected, and each woman was asked to find her original penny. Every woman was successful. "In our experience, (nearly) all women feel that they have a problem with remaining focused; they are highly distractible," the article states. "However, after this penny exercise, they accept the notion that they can focus their mind if they so choose." The study then went on to encourage body-awareness exercises, which eventually had a sexual goal.

Not all Eastern-based benefits manifest in the mind. The article cites another study from The Journal of Sexual Medicine, published in September 2007, in which 68 Indian men who suffered from premature ejaculation were given a choice of yoga-based, non-pharmacological treatment or Prozac. The men who practiced yoga for one hour each day "had both subjective and statistically significant improvements in their intra-ejaculatory latencies, similar to participants in the pharmacologic treatment group."

The article acknowledges that mindfulness and yoga are challenging, but they also can be fun — and whose sex life couldn’t benefit from a little mental and physical flexibility?

Sally Law has written about health and sexuality for the Cleveland Clinic, and has appeared regularly as a guest host on Sirius Radio. Her column, The Science of Sex, appears weekly on LiveScience.