Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man cannot achieve or maintain an erection. Research suggests that practicing yoga on a daily or a similarly frequent basis may help men enjoy improved sexual health.
There can be many causes of erectile dysfunction or ED, ranging from restricted blood flow to medications being taken by the man, to psychological and emotional concerns.
While some ED causes may require medical treatment, men are exploring alternative medicine techniques to reduce ED. One such example is yoga.
Fast facts on yoga and erectile dysfunction:
- Yoga is an ancient practice of movement and breathing.
- Research around yoga and reducing ED is increasing.
- Several studies have linked yoga and male sexual performance.
Research does not currently exist about specific yoga poses and their benefits in reducing ED. However, researchers writing in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrated Medical Sciences have made observations on the body of knowledge about yoga, stress relief, and sexual function. The five poses listed below are based on their recommendations.
1: Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes)
This pose is intended to promote digestion and blood flow to major organs, including the liver, spleen, pancreas, and pelvic region:
- Begin in a seated position with the legs stretched forward.
- Bend the right leg at the knee and cross it over the left, placing the right foot on the floor.
- Inhale then exhale slowly, turning toward the right, stretch the left arm forwards, resting the left elbow on the right knee.
- Those who are particularly flexible can clasp the hands behind the back while twisting.
- Release the pose and start from the seated position. Repeat on the opposite side.
The Siddasana is a classic yoga position, sometimes called Perfect Pose, and can be maintained for a long time. For men, it has the benefit of stimulating the pelvic region and promoting flexibility:
- Sit on the floor with legs stretched forward.
- Cross the left leg at the knee, placing the left foot near the inside of the right thigh.
- Repeat the movement on the right leg, placing the right foot over the left ankle. The right heel should press against the pubic bone.
A man can remain in this position and practice deep breathing. He may wish to uncross the legs and repeat by crossing the right leg first.
Also known as Eagle Pose, this standing pose requires balance. A man should perform it near a wall or sturdy piece of furniture if he is developing his balance. This pose is known for increasing blood flow to the pelvis, making it potentially beneficial for those with ED.
- Stand straight on both legs.
- Imagine the right leg is a root connected to the ground. Lift the left leg slowly, twisting it over the right knee, placing the top of the foot on the back of the right calf if possible.
- Bend at the knee to deepen the stretch. If desired, a person can lift their arms to shoulder height and cross one over the other.
- Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, release, and repeat on the other leg.
The pavanamuktasana is also known as Wind-Relieving Pose because it promotes intestinal motility and can relieve stomach pains from gas.
Additionally, it helps to mobilize and warm the pelvic muscles and reproductive organs.
- Lie down on the floor, legs outstretched.
- Inhale then exhale and bring one knee toward the chest. Circle the arms around the knee, pulling the leg as close to the stomach as possible.
- Continue to inhale and exhale while maintaining the position.
- Release and lower the leg. Repeat on the opposite side.
Also known as Corpse Pose, this is often the last pose performed in a yoga class.
While almost anyone can perform the shavasana, it can be one of the most difficult to do well.
This is because it involves being quiet, introspective, and focusing on one's breathing.
- Lie with the back on the floor and arms stretched at the sides. Point the palms upward toward the sky.
- Visualize each part of the body slowly relaxing. Start with the right toes, then ankle, calf, knee, and so on. Switch to visualizing the left leg relaxing and move upward through the body.
- Breathe deeply while maintaining focus on relaxation. A person can remain in this pose for anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes if desired.
While there are not necessarily yoga poses that will negatively impact a man's sexual performance, any pose performed incorrectly could overstretch or strain the body.
For this reason, it is often best for someone beginning yoga practice to seek the advice of a professional yoga instructor.
According to a study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, yoga has been shown to help reduce:
- blood pressure
- body mass index
- heart rate
Because high blood pressure and excess weight are both linked with ED, the benefits highlighted above could help a man reduce the incidence of ED.
The journal article also suggests that yoga increases blood flow to the genitals, which could enhance sexual function.
Yoga specific studies
Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine studied 65 men from 24 to 60 years old who participated in 12 weeks of yoga sessions.
The participants were asked to score their sexual function before and after their yoga practice. At the end of the 12 weeks, men reported increases in ejaculatory control, erection, and orgasm.
Another article published in the journal Andrologia asked men diagnosed with ED to take the medication tadalafil (Cialis) or to take tadalafil and to take part in a stress management program as well.
After 8 weeks, men participating in the stress management program showed a reduction in their stress and in the stress hormone cortisol, which resulted in better sexual function measurements.
While the men did not participate in yoga specifically as part of their stress management, yoga is a stress-managing practice.
A man should talk to his doctor about his overall health to ensure he is healthy enough for certain yoga practices. For example, there are Bikram and "hot" yoga practices that involve performing yoga in a very hot studio. For men with blood pressure and heart concerns, this yoga approach may not be recommended, as it might be too strenuous.