In the Vedic and Upanishad periods of Yoga, total abstinence from sexual intercourse (brahmacharya), whether by action, mind or word was considered to be one of the highest virtues leading to Yoga.
Later exponents of Yoga, however, interpreted the injunction toward a continent life to mean that one should maintain a dispassionate attitude toward sexual matters and that there should be purity in sex.
Some of the earlier Yogins stated that Yoga is mainly for the householder. The sage Swatmarama said that anyone can hope to achieve complete success in Yoga, even while living a wayward life if he or she followed Yoga practice of sex hygiene.
This is a practice for the cleanliness and preservation of the generative organs and the preservation of virility. Some of the older manuscripts state that a man may be considered celibate in the Yoga sense if he observes hygienic sex relations within the marriage bonds. In one of the tracts, it is stated that even a prostitute can attain the highest object of life by the following Yoga.
One of the problems that may be encountered in the practice of Yoga is that it may build up in the adherent such powerful sexual strength that it will be necessary to sublimate this drive. The manuals of Hatha Yoga suggest
- Observance of certain practices which influence the activity of the urogenital organs
- Cool baths
- Irrigation of the genital passages
- Active continence
The Useful Processes
The bandhas and mudras discussed earlier are said to have a powerful effect on sexual potency. One asana of particular value in this respect is called Asvinimudra.
In this, an attempt is made to simulate the action of a mare after she has excreted the bowel contents. This asana, or mudra, is best performed in a squatting position, or in any convenient posture which will allow free movements of the anal muscles.
While practicing this, with every exhalation of the breath, contract the anus, concentrating on the anal sphincters and the broad ligaments of the perineum (which support the muscular fibers of the prostate and the erector muscles of the penis in the male and the muscles of the urogenital region in the female). After a deep and prolonged contraction, inhale slowly and let these muscles relax completely.
When this is practiced, it increases blood circulation, and through its wavelike contraction and expansion and full relaxation, provides an internal massage to the deeper sex organs.
It also gives tone to the reproductive organs, since it affects the finer sympathetic nerve endings. It is claimed that even sexual debility may be overcome through the lengthy and regular practice of this exercise.
It is suggested that this exercise is practiced only in the evening before retiring, and for about two minutes at a time.
A problem affecting many men is frequent nocturnal discharges. To alleviate this, a pose is known as Gorakasana has been found highly effective. Join the soles of the feet together in front of the genitals with the toes pointing outward.
Now, move the body by lifting it slightly from the ground, placing your weight on the two extended hands. Place your heels under the anus. Let the feet cover the seam of the perineum breadthwise, and hide your legs from the knees down with your thighs.
Keep your hands pressed on your knees to cause a steady pull backward. Vary the strength by pressure on your knees. This posture works on the connective muscles of the groin and thigh and indirectly stretches both the superficial and deeper urogenital muscles. It aids elasticity of the muscle fibers in this area and correspondingly increases the circulation of blood.
Harmful Sexual Habits
Incomplete sexual acts, such as unsatisfied intercourse, self-abuse and often-repeated sexual excitements without orgasm, cause congestion of the sexual organs because of sustained dilation of the numerous capillaries in this region.
There may also be harmful psychological effects. Under these abnormal conditions, the congested organs grow weaker for want of proper blood circulation. Their functions ultimately become so impaired as to set in strong reactions which, on the slightest sexual irritation or suggestive situation, cause premature emissions.
In consequence, the muscular response also becomes poor, with feeble erections in the male, and inactivity of the clitoris and failure of the erectile tissues in the vaginal orifice to produce the necessary gripping in the female.
Other troublesome conditions in this area arise from inflammation of the inner sex organs. This congestion or inflammation is accompanied by high tension, restricted motion, impaired circulation of blood and functional alterations which are more severe in women than in men.
These situations are generally relieved by the practice of Asvinimudra, which provides for drainage of the blood and more equalized circulation. This posture may be accompanied by a period of resting after the exercise, with the genital regions higher than the heart which, in turn, is followed by stretching exercises.
Use of Cool Bath
In advice to both celibates and married men, the tracts recommend the use of a cool bath (about 65° F.) before retiring as a means of avoiding nocturnal emissions. Older persons and those with lowered vitality might find it more effective to use a slightly colder hip bath (about 55° F.) while keeping the feet in a warm foot bath (about 100° F.). This will help maintain a favorable circulation.
The irrigation of the sexual passages, described in detail in the Yoga tracts, might be difficult and perhaps even dangerous for the novice. It is suggested that a nurse or doctor be consulted for instruction in the hygiene of the urogenital region.
On the matter of continence, there is considerable difference of opinion even among the Yogic authorities. Some maintain that by disuse of the sex organs, the sex-endocrine glands become functionally impaired. On the other hand, differing authorities hold that passive continence is compatible with health and, further, that the sex glands are like tear glands and sweat glands and do not atrophy or become impaired with disuse.
The traditional Yoga belief is that preservation of the internal sex fluids within the body has the greatest physiological value. It is also held that preservation of the seminal fluid contributes toward building a strong physical and mental constitution through the biochemical economy, as the emissions contain large percentages of iron, phosphorus, and calcium.
Yogins also stated that under the stimulus of excitement, a much larger quantity of the fluid is produced and secreted and, when reabsorbed, these extra fluids promote the corresponding activity of the lymphatics and become transformed into life-energy.
The conditions necessary to fill the objective of conserving life-energy through the preservation and absorption of sexual fluids into the system are the normal physiological contact of the sexes, and sufficient nutrition to allow the sex glands to secrete without loss. (A heavy milk diet is recommended for this purpose.)
In short, it is better to engage in sexual activities when necessary. This will cause less strain and will expend less energy that will be expended through the effects of self-denial and repressions.