We don’t normally think about breathing, since it comes so naturally to us. But just because we’re going to breathe whether we think about it or not doesn’t mean we’re using our breath in the best way possible. That’s no truer at any time than it is during sex, when our breath can help connect us with our bodies and intensify our sensations.
“I believe that our breath is the most underused tool in our sexual arsenals,” Astroglide’s Resident Sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly tells Bustle. “With breath, you awaken sensitive nerve endings and can experiment with different rhythms, patterns, and temperatures with ease.”
However, unless you’re quite the multitasker, learning breathing exercises while you’re having sex can get complicated. So, Dr. Jess suggests trying them outside the bedroom first. One exercise she recommends is “wave breathing,” where you picture yourself lying on a beach and picture the waves washing over you each time you inhale. When you exhale, picture them moving back into the ocean. A similar technique is “cloud breathing,” where you picture yourself inside a warm, fluffy cloud that tightens around you with each inhale and expands into the sky with each exhale. This should help you get used to deliberately controlling your breath.
Once you’ve mastered that, here are some ways to introduce breathing techniques into sex.
1. Make Noise
I know, I know — making noise in bed can feel kind of silly, especially if you’re not used to it. But you don’t have to imitate porn stars. In fact, you shouldn’t try to imitate anything — just engage your voice and let whatever comes out come out. “Most of us muffle or alter our sexual sounds to reflect what we hear in porn and this can impact orgasmic tension,” says Dr. Jess. “As we soften our groans and grunts into moans and sighs, the rhythm of our breath becomes unnatural. This breath-holding impacts blood flow and oxygenation of muscles, which can impede orgasmic response.”
2. Breath Air Onto Your Partner
Your breath can serve as a very subtle instrument to tease your partner, says Dr. Jess. Lick your lips and breathe onto a sensitive spot on their body to warm it, then move away as you exhale to cool it down. Or, just open your mouth wide and breath warm air onto their nipples or another sensitive body part. Another technique is to give “breath kisses,” which involve moving your lips as close to your partner’s skin as you can without touching it.
3. Slow Down Your Breathing Before Orgasm
To intensify your orgasms, slow down your breath right beforehand. It’s best if each inhale and exhale lasts about four seconds, says Dr. Jess. But don’t actually count, because the goal is to get into your body, not your head. To make the effect last, continue breathing deeply during orgasm and contract your PC muscles (the ones you use to stop yourself from peeing). This can help orgasms last longer.
4. Speed Up Your Breath Before Orgasm
Some people’s orgasms respond more to shallow breathing, says Dr. Jess. To see what yours responds to, try speeding up your breath as you feel your orgasm coming on.
5. Breathe In Sync With Your Partner
This technique can make you feel more connected to your partner. You can simply try to breath at the same time as them, or try this tantra practice: Sit facing each other, look into each other’s eyes, and breathe out through your mouth and in through your nose at the same time for five minutes.
6. Breathe Into A Massage
One way to relax, get into your body, and enjoy every sensation to its fullest is to practice deep breathing during a massage. While your partner is massaging you, breathe in through your nose and breathe vocally out through your mouth. Put your hand on your stomach and feel it rise and fall as you breathe in and out, says Dr. Jess. As you’re breathing, perform a “body scan” — that is, pay attention to all your sensations from your head to your toes, and relax each muscle on your way up. You may even tense each muscle before relaxing it so you feel the relaxation even more.
Learning to control your breath through these techniques won't just improve your sex life. It'll also help you relax, be more present, and improve your overall well-being.