Yoga improves your sex life! I guess that's not surprising news, but it's pretty funny from my perspective.
A major element of my yoga practice (albeit in an ashram setting) was a committed and sustained practice intimately linked with a vow of celibacy.
The teachings of yoga in it's more esoteric form are to move the energy UP and IN rather than DOWN and OUT. My celibacy vow lasted 6.5 years before I "got off the elevator". And it was a ride.
I'm deeply grateful for those years of conscious restraint. When I moved into the ashram at 25 I was pretty focused on (and addicted to) relationships. Whenever I met anyone, I could not help but be caught in the basic scan of "do-able and not do-able." Celibacy for a 25-year old sounded like cruel and unusual punishment, but I was transformed by the practice. Women who I would have pursued and been intimate with - but with whom I would not have had the emotional maturity to sustain anything - became best friends.
Over time I realized I had more intimacy in my life than ever.
In the ashram women and men were segregated. We did a lot of touch and massage among the brothers. (I eventually got to understand how challenging, confusing and difficult this was for the gay brothers in the community.) Massage was a wonderful way to connect, show support and was integrated with our very embodied practice of yoga.
The guru (Yogi Amrit Desai) noticed this and declared a 'touch fast.' "No more touching or massage," he said. This struck me as particularly cruel and unusual. He went on to say, "When you are with someone and find yourself wanting to express your love or affection in a habitual way, try moving it up. Try to express yourself instead through the tone of your voice or through your eyes."
I took on this practice and it was deeply transforming. I realized I could be with anyone and never hold back my heart.
When my vow was up I eventually explored sexuality again from a fresh and renewed place inside.
Georg Feurstein, one of the most respected voices of yoga in the west, talks about the reductionism of yoga. This incredibly complex and sophisticated system for transformation and awakening has been reduced to tight hamstrings in a YMCA.
And so it turns out a yoga practice enhances one's performance. This seems a most logical and natural manifestation, but here it is, courtesy of CNN. (thanks, Don, for the tip!)