Have you ever been booty-up in a cow yoga pose or, better yet, spread-eagle in happy baby, and thought, Hey, this feels familiar? Yoga can be hot — and not just literally. While there are yoga poses and classes that are supposed to make you feel turned on, some of the heavy breathing and stretching that goes on in regular yoga classes is the perfect storm for accidental arousal.
"Being aroused by yoga is a very natural thing that happens in our bodies," says Michelle Hope, a sex expert in New York City. "There's a connection between exercising and your sex drive going up." You can blame the endorphin boost you get from exercising, Hope says. When you exercise, it releases endorphins, which can also release hormones that boost your sex drive.
It also can feel really sex-like (in your body, at least) to bend over and move into contorted positions in front of a room full of people. "You're standing there basically naked doing a lot of positions that you would during sex, so there's a high likelihood that you'll also feel turned on," Hope says. "If you have a hot teacher — help!"
Not to mention, when a yoga instructor adjusts you, they often put their hands on your hips or lower back so you can feel the proper position of the pose in your body — touching is teaching, as they say. Hands-on yoga cues are not at all meant to arouse you, and some yoga philosophies believe they're more important to the practice than the verbal cues that you get. Of course, if you feel uncomfortable with someone literally touching your body, you should tell your yoga teacher to keep their paws off, or find an entirely different studio.
There's nothing wrong with feeling your feelings, sexual or otherwise, Hope says, but getting aroused is not really the point of practicing yoga. In fact, one of the yoga instructors we reached out to for this piece said that romantic relationships with students aren't really encouraged at all. According to the "Yamas," or moral and societal tenants of yoga practice, yogis should "preserve sexual energy" and use that energy toward the actual yoga instead (that particular tenant is called Brahmacharya). What exactly that means exactly is open for interpretation, though.
Another thing to keep in mind is that yoga is a workout that's tied directly to your emotions, so it's possible that you feel lovingly bonded to your instructor, too. Having someone (like your yoga teacher) supporting you emotionally in your goals can feel sexual — even if those goals are just to be able to do crow pose or hold a plank. "Let's face it, your brain is the most important part of sex," Hope says. "There could be an emotional attachment, and... if you feel good, you're going to have a higher sex drive."
Another welcome side effect of yoga is obviously relaxation. Stress can screw with your sex drive, which is a bummer. But fortunately, yoga relieves stress — and nobody's complaining about that. "If you're in a situation where you're hitting goals, your body is changing, you're feeling more confident, then you feel sexier," Hope says. Namaste to that.