Kinky play is a hot topic these days, what with stupid books like 50 shades of grey; that doesn’t rate a link from my website. Sorry to those who love it. I really think its just hype and not the real thing. Within the ranks of the real thing- real kinksters, that is -“breath play” is a super hot topic. Its a hot topic because its highly dangerous. There’s the its-really-hawt camp and the you’re-out-of-your-fucking-mind camp.
Here’s a few good posts on the topic that explain what “breathplay” is and why it is dangerous:
Johns Hopkins: A Peek Behind the Curtain: The Basics of BDSM and Breathe Play
Jay Wiseman’s Closing Arguments on Breath Play
Jay Wiseman’s The Medical Realities of Breath Control Play
As to the above articles, I agree. I always did. Yet I have still done carotid holds and breath holds. I do not do them any more since I now have health risk factors that nearly guarantee death if I keep doing it. I would argue that the correct name for this kind of play would be asphyxiation play, not “breath play.”
So why do people do asphyxiation play? Because its hot and exciting to have an ultimate loss of control and surrender to someone or to take that control from someone. Because its hot and exciting to have a near death experience or have control of someone’s life. Because its hot and exciting to have the sensations of near asphyxiation (which are quite notable) paired with orgasm.
There’s not much that equals it. Seriously. But is it worth my life? No. Not even a little bit.
This post is really for those kinksters who want a substitute.
So what can I do to get some of that sense of surrender or loss of control? How about restraints while something else you do/do not want done is happening?
What can I do to replicate some of the sensations I can get with near asphyxiation? Try yogic breathing techniques. But do this as a method of mental bondage, not with the dominant controlling the submissive’s body.
If you truly want a near-death orgasmic experience, try something nuts like fucking after jumping out of a plane. I suggest you bring a parachute. Really, I just advise you just give up that near death experience shit. Its nuts and you are too valuable for that. Some fantasies just ought to remain fantasies.
I aim to talk about conscious breathing in this post, though I don’t intend to tell you all about it myself, since you can find that out with other great sources. There are a few kinds of conscious breathing: Yogic (about which the most research has been done), Transformational breathwork, and Counted Breathing.
Yogic breathing techniques have been highly studied first of all and they are found- when done as instructed -to have immense health benefits. Here’s some studies:
Changes in P300 following alternate nostril yoga breathing and breath awareness
Sudarshan kriya yoga: Breathing for health
Yoga for anxiety: a systematic review of the research evidence
Characteristics of randomized controlled trials of yoga: a bibliometric analysis
Now, the caveat to this bdsm conversation is that these breathing techniques are done sans sex in these studies. Also the techniques are not done for hours long, exciting times to get a sexual high. They are done for a few minutes as part of a yoga or meditation practice. Therefore we don’t know if there’s a change in the benefits or risks when done during sex.
In addition, there’s many anecdotal reports about doing esoteric breathing, chanting and meditation practice for great lengths of time which suggest it can be detrimental. The common attitude among mystics and yogis is that if kryia is done for any length of time (many hours), these kinds of breathing techniques can cause spiritual and physiological changes that can be emotionally and intellectually disruptive- including instances of psychosis. I personally know someone who had psychotic episodes from incorrectly doing kryia and other kinds of esoteric practices excessively. I can attest to the fact that kundalini rising (which is an effect of kryia or pranayama yoga) can make a person really moody and cause insomnia, even weight changes. Here’s some rather woo-woo stuff on Kundalini rising:
You can do what you will with that last info, but here’s a thought: If we can medically prove the effects of yoga and pranayama has on the endocrine system, wouldn’t you assume excessive kryia or breathing practice could cause something more subtle and hard to understand like kundalini rising? Or worse that it so upsets the chemistry in the body, it could cause a person to be destabilized psychologically. That said, it has some risks which haven’t yet been scientifically quantified in this context, but not the kind of immanent danger of death that asphyxiation play carries. Thus, I offer it up as a potent, somewhat less risky substitute for those without a history of psychosis in their family.
That all said, the following techniques could enhance bdsm play:
Breathing as a bridge
Yoga Breathing Exercises – Pranayama Videos
Synchronizing breathing with movement in yoga asana practice With this one, follow the links to five successive related posts to get the full discussion.
If you want to take this beyond bdsm and consider it a happiness and healing method (which I emphatically recommend), here are some excellent books/audio I can personally recommend:
Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil
Breathe! You are Alive by Thich Nhat Hanh which translates and explains a Buddhist Sutra on the benefits and focus of breathing practice.
Kundalini Yoga by Sivananda Radha
Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Satyananda Sarasvati
Here’s another on transformational breathwork which looked good to me:
Breathe Deep, Laugh Loudly by Judith Kravitz
And one on Pranayama or Yogic breathing:
Light on Prãnãyãma: The Yogic Art of Breathing by Iyengar
Some of these techniques involve moving the body in similar ways as happens when trying to get air during asphyxiation play. Some of the techniques cause the fuzzy mind set, even the tingling and sparkly visuals seen with asphyxiation play, but these are all under the control of the submissive, not the dominant. If the dominant wants to have greater control, s/he could do a counted breathing practice while doing wonderfully evil things. Its hawt. It works like this: the dominant calls the count, the submissive responds. A count equals 4 in, 4 out or 6 in, 6 out, 2 in-6 out, 6 out, 2 in, and so on. Use counts between 1 and 10 and vary them. The effects of the various counts on the body varies. If you do this play during bdsm play or during sex, the submissive will likely get distracted by something you’re doing and start gasping and squealing, (a sure excuse for playful punishment for not doing what they are told) so its unlikely any pattern will be held for any dangerous amount of time. Meditation masters recommend spending between five minutes and sixty minutes depending on the technique/method used for meditation. Certainly I keep my own play under 30 minutes and usually under 10 minutes. Just remember there’s risks involved in changes in blood oxygen levels, even if the submissive remains in control of the airway. Play at your own risk.
I believe in a tantric approach to bdsm and love making. It may not hold the thrilling threat to your existence inherent with asphyxiation play, but there are other benefits to pranayama, kriya, counted and transformational breathing- not the least of which is personal development and maturation. I think that’s a very good trade off, since it makes for a whole human being and a happier one.
Even if this doesn’t float your boat as a way of life or to substitute asphyxiation play, you could learn and master these techniques as a way of bonding prior to play and as after care.