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You’ve just walked into your yoga studio and you’re ready – no, you’re pumped – to nail all of those poses that you’ve been thinking about all day. Your eyes are on the prize and you couldn’t be more focused. But then it hits you – there are men in the class. Cute, yoga-practising, eligible-husband-type men. And that’s when you start to feel it: the Sex Pot Syndrome.

The yoga-specific Sex Pot Syndrome often occurs in women aged 16 – 60 and can present the following symptoms:

  • Sudden overwhelming regret that shorter, tighter, stretchier yoga pants weren’t worn
  • Anxiety at the thought of pinning back bangs and exposing broad expanses of forehead
  • Refusal to tuck the tail bone under for fear of lessening the appeal of the derrière
  • Dangerous tendency to arch and crunch the lower back at every possible opportunity
  • Avoidance of attempting or deepening any poses which may lead to strained facial expressions, flushing or sweat
  • Excessive efforts in back bends, splits and any poses deemed stretchy or bendy

Sound familiar? Well, you might be suffering from SPS. Little is known or discussed about this pandemic (oh yes, it happens in yoga classes around the world), primarily because of the fear of being judged by fellow yogis or perhaps of making significant others question your motives for practising yoga in the first place. Yet this is an issue that touches each and every one of us, men and women alike, and it can also have very serious repercussions.

The refusal to tuck the tail bone under can and will cause damage to your lower back and can lead to other injuries due to poor alignment; the avoidance of more challenging poses will prevent you from advancing in your practice and growing stronger on the whole; and the excessive efforts put into the ‘stretchier, bendier, more visually appealing’ poses could also lead to injury. Less detrimental, but equally significant, the anxiety which may lead us to leave our bangs unpinned and our hair loose creates an irritating distraction that takes you out of your practice and away from your mat mentally.

For men, being faced with women in the throes of SPS may result in a lack of focus and substantial distraction on their part. The shorter the yoga shorts and the less tucked the tail bones, the more our male yogis have to concentrate and focus in order to stay in the proper frame of mind needed to nurture a solid practice. In fact, men themselves are known to suffer from a more ego-oriented version of SPS whereby poses such as headstand and forearm stand are attempted without proper alignment, simply to showcase their masculine strength and manly muscles. This too can lead to serious back, shoulder and neck injuries.

With so many people affected day in and day out by SPS, let’s take a look at what we can do to turn things around and set ourselves onto the path to healing. Firstly, it’s key to remember that you are coming to yoga to practise, not to socialise or secure yourself a mate. Focus on yourself, your poses and most of all, your breath. If you feel the onset of SPS, close your eyes for a moment and breathe in for four counts, hold for four and then exhale for another four counts. After a few breaths, you should find yourself refocused.

Secondly, if you feel that you cannot help but succumb to SPS because all the men in the room are staring at you, then stop giving them a reason to. If you wear small, tight shorts and stick your bum out at every given opportunity while swishing your long loose hair, then chances are that men will look at you – because you’re asking to be looked at. If you suck it up, put on the appropriate pants, flatten that bum and scrape the hair off your face, you’re no longer asking for attention, and then guess what? You’re no longer being stared at and you can relax into doing what you came to do: yoga!

None of the sufferers of SPS can be cured overnight, but the first step to healing is always acknowledgement. So if you need to wonder whether your yoga gear might be a tad too provocative or if you can’t imagine going to class without a full face of make-up, then maybe take a little time to assess whether or not you may have yoga-specific Sex Pot Syndrome. Then you can start taking those baby steps towards detaching yourself from the temptation of being a pretzel-y, seductive yoga sex goddess and instead, work on becoming just plain old wonderful yoga-practising you.