How to Guide: exploring breath play in the bedroom

With a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology, Rachel Wright has worked with thousands of humans worldwide, helping them scream less and screw more. She helps break down easy steps to explore your fluid sexuality.

As someone who loves to continue exploring their sexuality, I’ve been experimenting with breathplay a lot more lately. The first time I ever had someone choke me during sex, I was alarmed by how erotic and not scary it was. I think I had this idea built up in my head that if I liked breath play, I was “too slutty” or “too kinky,” but the truth is… I really love it. And, I continue to explore it and play around with it to this day.

What's breath play and why should I love it?

Breathplay feels so exciting because it’s such an intimate experience—there has to be so much consent, honesty, and trust. It’s also incredibly sexy to practice breathplay with my partners & not only experience a new form of intimacy but experience our ever-evolving sexualities together. I’m a submissive when it comes to sexual encounters, so it’s my airflow that is typically restricted. 

In the realm of sex and BDSM, breathplay always seemed like something that had to be so intense (which is fabulous if you love the intensity). So, let’s define what breath play is, so we’re all on the same page. Breath-play involves the restriction of oxygen to increase erotic play or to intensify an orgasm or sexual experience. This can either be achieved through solo-play (autoerotic asphyxiation) or through partner play. 

I have never felt comfortable doing it alone, so then I began to wonder... if almost everything is on a spectrum, what is the spectrum of partnered breathplay? Turns out, it’s a big one!

What do I mean?

Well, I enjoy it when my partner(s) restrict my breathing by choking. I love how it makes me feel in my body, how it makes me feel with my partner(s), how it makes me feel to explore my sexuality, and how it heightens my sexual experience. There are also tons of other ways to interact with breath play like breath-holding, nose-pinching, smothering the face in genitals, hoods, bags, hanging, corseting, and more. Some of these are more dangerous than others, so it’s really important to know what you’re doing before entering into breath play. 

But couldn’t breathplay also be a far more mild but equally intimate experience? I think so. 

If there’s anything I’ve learned as a sex therapist, it’s that we can make sex (which I define as a meaningful experience of pleasure) and the titles around sex whatever we want to make them. Breathplay to one person could look like being choked by their partner’s hands while to another, it could be more extreme by using pillows or other props to aid in suffocation. 

And then to another, it could look like deep breathing exercises that match up their breathing with their partner’s. It could be more of a tantric experience where breath has intentionality & a purpose that also aids in enhancing pleasure.

I’ve learned over the years that this is the true beauty of sex: sex is what you want to make it & who you want to make it with.

How to get started:

When I first started experimenting with breathplay, I asked myself some questions to better understand my desires, needs, and boundaries. Not only was this helpful for me to better understand myself, but it also helped me to translate my boundaries to my partners. 

  1. Do I find the idea of breathplay enticing? If yes, how so? 
  2. Do my partners find the idea of breathplay enticing? 
  3. Am I desiring my breath to be restricted or to restrict my partner’s? 
  4. What level of breathplay am I wanting to participate in? 
  5. Do I feel comfortable telling my partners when I’ve reached my limit?

One of the most important things I always remind myself and my clients is that just because I try something once, doesn’t mean I have to continue partaking in it if it ends up not being my cup of tea. Giving myself the freedom and permission to explore, with no expectations, has led to some of the most fulfilling sexual experiences. Because regardless of how incredible the sex is, the freedom I give myself to explore and the communication I have with my partners, will always lead to the very best sex.

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