Why Yoga Works for Couples

How could yoga possibly make my relationship better? Even if you put aside the evidence that yoga reduces stress and anxiety, boosts feelings of self-efficacy, improves body composition and reduces health woes in individuals, yoga is now being shown in studies to have direct positive impacts for couples. While it is very likely that all the factors that help individuals contribute to better partnerships, it is encouraging to see proof that yoga can be leveraged to improve interpersonal relationships and help people live happily together.

Relationship satisfaction is reported at higher levels among couples who practice yoga together. Looking at couples who have been married for five or more years, frustrations and hostilities are significantly lower in couples who spend more time taking class together. Among these partnerships and others who cohabitate more broadly, greater degrees of family functioning are observed as well. 

What exactly is contributing to higher satisfaction? One study that correlates yoga practice to compassion might hold part of the answer. Participants reported higher levels of compassion for themselves and others on days that they practiced yoga or meditation. They also incorporated mindfulness into their lives off the mat more readily, something partners are sure to notice.

Taking it to the bedroom, men and women both report greater sexual pleasure as yoga practitioners. In a head-turning study comparing sexual function before and after a “yoga camp”, every metric improved for participants.  For women, this included desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain. Men in the study were evaluated on desire, intercourse satisfaction, performance, confidence, partner synchronization, ejaculatory control and orgasm. No doubt improving desire and pleasure contributes to happier couples.

Beyond the data and asana, yoga philosophy guides us in how we interact with others through the yamas and niyamas, moral restraints that transcend time and cultural borders. These gems of wisdom remind us to treat each other with love and respect, being truthful and non-harming in our interactions. These values encourage us to explore ways in which we take from others and reciprocate in generosity. Yoga teaches us to find gratitude in what is and yet have the discipline to continue to grow. As we expand our awareness, we get to know ourselves better. In turn, we get to know our partners better. Ultimately, yoga helps us grow together.