Breathplay can literally take your breath away, but what is it? What are some important safety matters to consider? Author Sienna Saint-Cyr shares her thoughts with Fetish.com on this popular edge play topic.

 

Breathplay Options

Much like our recent choking kink article, breathplay also involves cutting off oxygen to the brain causing a feeling of euphoria. The difference between playing with breath and choking specifically is that people can often hold their breath a lot longer than if someone is pressing on their common carotid artery.

What this means is that covering someone’s mouth and nose is a different level of breathplay than when someone presses on the carotid artery (located in the neck). Cutting off blood to the brain by pressing on the artery works faster but shouldn’t be done very long.

According to Martial Talk (a site for martial arts), it takes anywhere from 5 to 10 seconds to choke someone into unconsciousness. Too much longer and you might kill the person. How hard you press on the artery will also affect this. Pressing a little may give a similar feel but not be nearly as dangerous as that oxygen rich blood can still get to the brain.
 

common carotid artery
Kinky anatomy lesson 101


The windpipe is in the front of the neck. DO NOT press on the windpipe. The arteries are easily located on the sides of the throat. Most people press on the common carotid artery when they are checking their heart rate during a workout. When trying to locate that artery, checking your pulse is a good place to begin.

There are other areas of the carotid artery that you wouldn’t want to press on. It’s important to locate the portion known as the ‘common’ carotid artery. See image above.
 

Autoerotic Asphyxiation

Breath control can happen in other ways too. Covering someone’s mouth and nose, for example, is another way to take part in Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK).

This method (as well as any of these) is going to depend on the individuals involved. How long you can cover someone’s mouth will vary. Some folks can hold their breath a lot longer than others. Since this kink involves holding your breath, knowing exactly how long the person being suffocated can hold their breath is vital.

Whether you choose to take that all the way to the edge of suffocating or holding back, there is still risk either way. The Brain Injury Foundation suggests that at the three to five-minute mark, serious brain damage can occur. Since this is different for everyone, it can even happen at the one-minute mark.

Another option includes something foreign around the throat. Like a strap, tie, belt, and so on. While this method can be a desire for some, having a hand around someone means you can physically feel them struggle and know better when to back off. Using an object takes that extra safety measure away making this option riskier.

The implement of choice would go around the common carotid artery or up a little higher on the throat. Direct pressure to the center of the windpipe can crush the windpipe. Don’t press there.

Please keep in mind that trying autoerotic asphyxiation without a partner can easily end in death. It’s too easy for something to go wrong and if you’re alone, there’s no one there to help.
 

breathplay_mask_381x640-min.png.968c84bb8a56650b14bcbd1a08c12fa6-min.png
A gas mask is one way to play


Breathplay Masks :gimp:

There are masks designed to cut off oxygen as well, but that’s not all. Some are mere breath bags that go over the mouth, others are large latex pieces that go over the entire head, some are leather and can unzip at the mouth to allow more oxygen in, and some are designed to cause more sensory deprivation than others. There seems to be a mask for just about everything.

One aspect of these masks that may serve helpful is that since they’re designed for breathplay, you can find variations that work for you and your partner(s). Ones that allow for breathing, however controlled, can still be hot and erotic. They just aren’t as dangerous. Read reviews and warnings before purchasing anything like this and that should help you find the right fit.
 

Kinktastic safety tips

As with everything kink related, safety is always a priority. Be sure to talk things through with your partners so that everyone is on the same page and agrees to the risk they’re about to take. Have measures in place in case of an emergency. Know CPR, have a phone handy to call for help, have bondage scissors in cases where masks or foreign objects are in use and need to be removed ASAP.  Be prepared.

People don’t play with fire without a way to extinguish it or put someone in an intense rope bondage scene without a means of cutting them loose. Breathplay is no different. While doing research, I found a lot of vanilla folks taking part in breathplay with no research at all. This area of RACK is no different than any other. Even vanilla folks need to know what they are getting into and risking for the sake of pleasure.

Remember, if anything goes wrong, call for help right away. RACK may include consent but it is still risky. Know the risks you’re taking so you can avoid injury or death.

 

Questions? Experienced with breath play? Comment or start a thread and share your story here or in the forum!


Images from USMC & Flickr Creative Commons users istolethetv


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