Breathing happens whether we are conscious of it or not. But when we bring our awareness to our breath, we bring awareness to the present moment. We invite our full selves and become more embodied. In this way, breathwork is a powerful tool to increase our vitality, our aliveness – and our pleasure.
Often during sex we are so focused on achieving an outcome, we lose connection with a key resource – our breathing patterns. Instead of straining towards a goal, we can use different kinds of breathwork – tantric breathing, ecstatic breathing, orgasmic breathing – to increase our capacity for pleasure. Freeing and deepening the breath through breathwork bringing consciousness to the breath. Using particular breath patterns to achieve certain effects allows for more sensation and pleasure to flow more expansively throughout our bodies.
Even more, practicing breathwork with a partner can lead to increased connection and intimacy as your nervous systems co-regulate and attune to one another.
Breathwork Techniques to Increase Pleasure
There are many ways to bring breathwork into your self-pleasure practice or partnered sexual play. The most basic is to simply invite your breath to move in and out through the mouth and to deepen and slow down as you begin to play or self-pleasure. Let the breath be deep, slow, and even – at least to start.
You can play with the speed of breathing, but do your best to keep it deep. Make your exhales audible, letting out a sigh or an “aaaahhh,” or any other sound that wants to be expressed. Breathing through the mouth stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which can increase your arousal.
Mouth breathing can sometimes lead to anxiety. If you notice it increasing your anxiety, try breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. You can also try breathing in and out solely through the nose if that feels the most calming and arousing.
The most important thing is to keep the breath really full and bring your attention to the sensations flowing throughout your body as you breathe.
Neo-Tantra – a loose category of practices and techniques of embodiment, meditation, and sexuality – is one realm that incorporates breathwork into pleasure practices. Breath is central to Tantra as it helps the practitioner stay present and alert, and can support the practitioner in entering different states of consciousness. This is the goal of Tantra and Tantric sex.
Tantric breathing can consist of quick and rhythmic breathwork through the nose, or explosive exhales through the mouth. Tantric breathing also includes chakra breathing, in which you breathe into each chakra, or cycle the energy between 2 or more chakras as you inhale and exhale.
Try These Tantric Breathing Techniques
Here are a few Tantric breathing techniques you can practice alone or with a partner:
Stimulating Breath / Breath of Fire
Raises energy and increases awareness.
- Close your eyes and let your belly relax as much as possible.
- Inhale and exhale quickly, about three breaths per second, through the nose with the mouth closed for 15 seconds. Focus on the exhale with your belly pumping toward the spine and let the inhale happen naturally and passively.
- Breathe normally for about 15-30 seconds, then try again for 20 seconds. Each round, increase by five seconds until you reach one full minute.
The 4-7-8 Breath
Releases tension and relaxes the body.
This can be done alone or while sitting across from your partner and synchronizing your breath.
- Exhale through the mouth, then close the mouth.
- Inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth completely to a count of eight.
- Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. Add on more repetitions as the breath becomes more comfortable.
The Counting Breath
Clears the mind and allows you to connect to your center and your body.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let your breath return to its natural rhythm.
- Inhale, then count “one” to yourself as you exhale.
- On the next exhale, count “two.” Work your way up to “five.”
- Repeat the cycle, starting at “one” and ending on “five.”
- Don’t go past “five,” otherwise your mind and attention will begin to wander.
- Try counting your breath for 5-10 minutes.
Tantric Breathing with a Partner
While having partnered sex, synchronizing your breath can help you connect more deeply to your partner and allow your bodies to attune to one another.
Tantric breathing with a partner can be done in many different ways. Try breathing in and out at the same time while looking into one another’s eyes. This can be a great exercise to do at the beginning of love-making or on its own, as a way to connect with your partner and yourself. Keep the body relaxed, the gaze soft, and breathe in and out through the mouth (or in through the nose and out through the mouth).
Tantric Sex Breathing
Another technique that can be used during love making is Tantric sex breathing – also called circular breathing. In this technique, one partner exhales as the other inhales, and vice versa, creating a circuit of energy between your two bodies.
- Sit across from your partner or in Yab-Yum, with one partner in the lap of the other partner facing one another. Look into each other’s eyes and focus on your breath.
- Partner 1 inhales, holding for a moment at the top of the inhale, imagining energy flowing in from their partner’s heart into their own heart. They then exhale, imagining a circuit of energy flowing from their genitals through the genitals of their partner and up to their heart. You can use your hands to follow the circuit of energy, moving them from your heart to your genitals as you inhale and then out towards your partner’s genitals as you exhale.
- As Partner 1 exhales, the Partner 2 inhales, imagining a circuit of energy flowing from their partner’s genitals, into their own genitals, and up to their heart. As they exhale, they imagine the energy flowing from their heart into the heart of their partner. You can use your hands to follow the circuit of energy, moving them from your heart to your partner’s heart as you exhale, and then up from your genitals to your heart as you inhale.
- Repeat for several minutes, maintaining eye contact.
- Optional: Close the gap between your bodies and wrap your arms around one another with your right hand on the back of your partner’s heart and the left hand on their sacrum. Continue the breath and the imagery in the same manner for several minutes.
Ecstatic Breathwork, otherwise known as Holotropic Breathwork, is a powerful way to clear energy blockages in the body. It can also lead to a transpersonal experience of healing and activation.
It is recommended that you practice with a certified practitioner, as ecstatic breathing can sometimes bring up traumatic memories held by the body.
It is possible to experience a full body orgasm using only orgasmic breathing and no or minimal stimulation through touch. This technique brings attention and awareness to each of the energy centers or chakras of the body.
Focus your attention on the chakra you are breathing into and the breath will follow. When doing orgasmic breathwork you may find it helpful to place your hands on the chakra into which you are breathing.
- Lie comfortably on your back with your spin straight (no pillow), with your knees up and your feet flat on the floor.
- Relax your jaw. Yawn a few times to keep the back of your throat open.
- Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth, or in and out through your mouth if it is more comfortable. Take in as much air as possible with your body relaxed.
- See your breath as a circle, without pausing between the inhale and the exhale.
- As you inhale, let your belly fill up in all directions. As you exhale, flatten your lower back to the ground, rocking your pelvis forward and back as you breathe to move sexual energy.
- Squeeze your PC (pubococcygeus) muscle. Most find it more easeful to squeeze on the exhale, but do what feels best in your body.
- Imagine you are pulling energy into your perineum (the area between your genitals and your anus, also known as the Root Chakra).
- Now, inhale your energy up to the Second Chakra/womb space, just under the belly button. Exhale, circulating the energy back down to the perineum. Keep your hips rocking forward and back and keep squeezing your PC muscle. Continue until your Second Chakra center feels lit up, bigger, or more alive. Trust that you will feel that you’re ready to move on, or it will feel as if the energy is moving up by itself.
- Now, breathe energy from your Second Chakra into your solar plexus, at the Third Chakra, just below your diaphragm under your sternum. Keep rocking and squeezing your PC muscle. Continue until this area is well charged up.
- You might start to feel physical or emotional effects. Keep breathing, this is natural. It is also perfectly fine if you aren’t feeling anything unusual.
- The next breath circle is between your solar plexus (Third Chakra) and heart center (Fourth Chakra). Keep rocking and squeezing your PC muscle. Continue until this area is well charged up.
- The next circle is from your heart center (Fourth Chakra) to your throat (Fifth Chakra). Let your body make some sighs or sounds, especially If they haven’t happened naturally yet. Make some vocalizations happen to move more energy through the body. Keep rocking and squeezing your PC muscle. Continue until this area is well charged up.
- The energy might be moving up the chakras on its own. If it is, just keep breathing and stop visualizing the circles.
- If the energy is not yet moving on its own, your next circle is from the throat (Fifth Chakra) to The Third Eye (the middle of your forehead-the Sixth Chakra). Keep your eyes closed and roll them up to your forehead to help the energy rise.
- The last circle is from The Third Eye to the crown (just above the top of your head-the Seventh Chakra).
- It is natural to experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or tingling sensations or spasms and constrictions in your hands and feet. These effects are only temporary. Take slow, deep breaths to ease these effects and try relaxing your effort a bit as you move through the exercise.