A client in sex therapy can expect to explore:
• anxiety and mood around intimacy and sex/sexuality
• body image issues
• feeling powerless
• not knowing themselves (interests, desires, etc. etc.)
It is rewarding work and certainly not easy, with much expected of clients to practice and use what was discussed in the hourly weekly session throughout the rest of the week, with results depending on effort – prioritizing and doing.
One way to do much of this outside work may be yoga, which still requires prioritizing and doing.
Yoga was not created to improve sexuality; it started out not as the asanas or poses we think of today, but rather it was lifestyle – about connecting to ourselves more deeply through meditation and self exploration, which ties in nicely sex therapy. The asanas were ultimately created to better prepare the body for meditation.
Through the asana, philosophical and meditation practices of yoga, practitioners may find – without a pill:
• calmness/serenity and mindfulness
• self acceptance
• confidence and empowerment
• improved interoception (the body’s ability to understand internal cues/stimuli)
• overall strengthening the body, including deeper muscle work in the hips (Kegel-like work)
Reduced anxiety and improved confidence that comes from acceptance have amazing ripple effects from deep in the mind, to how we carry and care for ourselves. Standing up for ourselves in every day situations can lead to ease of saying yes or no to intimacy – and that answer is informed by better reading our internal cues – knowing when we are turned out and knowing what we need to turn us on. It also helps us to understand the why of desire – for intimacy, feeding an addiction, or seeking solace and not knowing how else to do that.
Poses in yoga fall into a few categories – backbends, which enliven us and open our hearts; forward bends, which are insightful directed inward; hip openers that release fear and stress; standing postures that make us a presence; and inversions that require trust in ourselves. All of these can have positive effects on our being as a whole that translate in changes within our sexuality, too.
What yoga is not:
• a replacement for therapy – processing and exploring these changes and experiences are not part of the experience you can expect in a gym or studio regular class, but can be brought into the therapy too
• competitive - come to the mat anew every day
Lastly, yoga’s effects require regular practice to take hold and some of those effects may dissipate with ceasing, but like any homework practice you might get from your therapy, stopping doesn’t have to be forever, it just requires you to return to it to start up again.
This Topic of the Week was written by Brian Swope, MFT.