As mysterious as the orgasm can often be, with a little practice, it can be mastered. And achieving better orgasms may be a lot simpler than you imagined. It doesn't involve toys or kinks, it just includes your lungs and mouth. Mindful breathing—something so natural—could open the door to leg-shaking orgasms.
But let's back up a bit. "Breathwork is helpful for practically anyone and anything," explained marriage and family therapist and therapeutic coach Callie David. Mindful breathing—deepening your breath to fill your abdomen, diaphragm and chest—dates back centuries, and has reemerged in various cultures ever since. It is commonly used by the Western world as a means of stress relief and emotional release, but it can greatly lend itself to sexual encounters and accessing pleasure.
"As you begin to breathe deeply, you kick off the pituitary gland in the endocrine system and endorphins begin to flow through your body," explained David, who was formally trained under teacher and healer David Elliott's two-part pranayama breathwork system and employs versions of those original teachings in her work. "So, sexuality and pleasure are directly linked to the breath and the nervous system. They are in sync and constantly working together."
Breathwork can lead to confidence
You can often experience an intense sensation when you focus on your breath during a sexual encounter. "When people can deepen their breath," David said, "their ability to receive pleasure increases immensely."
"Everything has felt just a touch different since our session," said David's client Abby Rockers, one of many who claim that breathing techniques help boost their confidence and performance in the bedroom. "A little more slow. A little more intimate."
No surprise, since healthy breathing directly relieves stress response, and healthy, regulated lung function is linked to increased athletic performance, according to a 2016 report published by the European Respiratory Society.
Physical pleasure can increase with routine breathwork
That's not the only science behind it all, either. Breathwork enacts the nervous system in ways that can physically increase pressure and pleasure. "There's the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls balance, resting and digesting, and there's the sympathetic nervous system that responds to perceived dangerous or stressful situations," David explained, referring to our "fight, flight or freeze" response.
Tightening that occurs as a result of clitoral stimulation increases your heart rate, an adrenaline kick much like that in natural fight-or-flight responses. But that's just the lead-up. During a cervical orgasm, the vagus nerve is stimulated. This engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for reactions such as pupil dilation and heart-rate control. "This allows the body to open, expand and receive pleasure," David said.
The vagus nerve is also responsible for penile erection response to a given situation. Because of this, engaging in breathwork is highly encouraged for men in an effort to improve their libido and pleasure. Body and mind function really do go hand in hand.
Try meditation to heighten the benefits of breathwork
Meditative practices are highly encouraged in self-exploration alongside breathwork. Meditation allows you to have the quiet and calmness to break away from your daily routine and completely clear your mind. Using meditative practices regularly can help to calm your mind during sex, which in turn can lead to better orgasms.
Different forms of popular meditation include heart-centered practice, concentration, transcendental, walking, mindfulness, tai chi and qigong. These practices, unsurprisingly, marry breath with relaxation and focused thought. Meditation has also been used in treatment and therapies regarding child sex abuse, low libido, sexual dysfunctions and sexual distress.
So how do you implement breathing during bedroom activities? "There's no way you can do this wrong," David said. "I recommend engaging your pelvic floor muscles on inhales and then softening those muscles on your exhales."
As is true for most practices, results vary depending on the experience, anatomy and several other factors of each individual. "It's important to go into breathwork without expectation or a 'goal' around orgasm," David insisted. Having a baseline expectation to improve your body is key, but always keep an open mind.