Yoga has many health and mental benefits including increased flexibility and balance. It helps to tone muscles, it can improve energy levels and it'll enhance your use of breath, as well as make you feel a bit more calm and centered in your day-to-day life. But what you may not realize is that certain yoga poses that focus on strength and endurance may help you out in the bedroom, too. Which ones exactly? We turned to our expert yogi, Chris SantaMaria, creative director for 305 Flow (New York City's 305 Fitness studio's new yoga program), to give us the lowdown on the poses—beautifully demonstrated by the women on the following pages—that can do double duty, both in the studio and in the bedroom.
1. Chair: Stand with legs together, feet touching. Keeping thighs together, sit back into heels and perform a quarter squat. Reach hands up towards sky, arms in line with ears, gaze straight ahead. Hold. Why: “Neither you nor your partner want to have to take a break when you’re standing up because one of your lower bodies can't handle it—and let's be honest, it's not exactly an ego boost when you get tired here,” says SantaMaria. “Chair pose gives your lower body more endurance and improves core strength so that you can hold your position and keep going by improving your balance and control with your legs bent.”
2. High Lunge: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step right foot forward and bend right knee so that knee is stacked over right ankle, left leg fully extended behind you with only toes on the floor. Reach arms up overhead, palms facing one another. Hold. Why: “Here you have core strength, hip flexibility, endurance and balance all combined into one movement,” explains SantaMaria. “This pose will increase your hip mobility and endurance, while teaching your core to contract, which means more power, control and range of motion from just about your knees to your chest. Do you see where I'm going with this?”
3. Bridge: Lie flat on back, bend knees and place feet flat on the floor shoulder-width apart. Heels should be as close to your butt as possible, arms extended out or at your sides. Pushing through your feet, lift butt, hips and core up towards ceiling, keeping head and shoulders on ground. Hold. Why: “There are moments where you'll be on the bottom and, even so, you need to help your partner out,” says SantaMaria. “Bridge helps you replicate the motion of lifting your body off the ground while lying on your back. The result: Your partner is satisfied because they aren't doing all the work and a deeper connection because both of your bodies are in motion."
4. Cobra: Lie on stomach, legs extended out behind you, top of feet flat on floor. Place hands on either side of your chest and, keeping elbows close to sides, push up, extend arms, and lift head, shoulders and chest off the ground. Hold. Why: “While this pose is amazing for strengthening your lower back, cobra is great for helping you control your breathing, too,” says SantaMaria. “This pose forces you to breathe deeply when you lift your chest up off the ground as high as you can, and being able to control your breathing in the heat of the moment is often the difference between experiencing the true climax or throwing in the towel too early.”
5. Chaturanga: Come into plank position, hands directly under shoulders, legs extended behind you with only toes on ground, body in a straight line from head to toe. Keeping elbows close to sides, bend elbows and lower halfway. Hold. Why: “This pose helps you build core strength and upper body endurance to be able to hold yourself up without getting tired,” says SantaMaria. “It will help you learn to control your body and keep a solid rhythm as you go through the motions.”