Traditional Methods and Risks (with a partner)
This section is written for people who will be engaging in breath play with a partner. If you intend to engage in solo play, please read the solo play section.
Playing this way with a partner really lessens your chance of experiencing complications and makes more play options available for the simple reason that you will have someone to help you if you pass out. Aside from that, if you have some form of injury occur you will have someone to help you get assistance. The main downside to play with a partner is that you have to spend a lot of time finding the person you will literally trust your life with and if something goes horribly wrong you may end up convicted of a crime or having your lover convicted of a crime. The physiological things mentioned in another section will all still be present so even if you play very “safe” you could end up drawing the short straw and taking the consequences. Out of 25 million people in the U.S., it is estimated that 250 will die of erotic asphyxiation in a year. Of those 250, almost all of them will be auto-erotic asphyxiation (solo play). Therefore, statistically your chances of partner play going wrong are pretty darn low if you pay attention to avoiding the risks you can control. With that in mind…let’s talk about how things could be done and how to lower the risks.
Some things to consider no matter what kind of method you use is how your partner will signal you if there is a problem and they can’t talk. Whatever the signal it should automatically happen if they faint. An example of a signal I’ve used is having someone hold their hand up…or put it on my hips…or something. It has to be in a place that if they faint…the hand will fall. It is important you pay very close attention to your partner and choose someone you trust with your life. It goes without saying (but I’m gonna say it anyway) that you need to make sure that if your partner faints they don’t fall and harm themselves. It may also be a good idea to take into account what would happen to your partner if something were to happen to you during play. For example, you may think a bit before mummifying them (in a way they can’t escape) and putting a plastic bag on their head with rubber bands. If you were to faint or something, they wouldn’t be able to get out and save themselves. I can’t tell you what is an acceptable risk, but I thought I better bring the subject up for you to think about.
For the purpose of this discussion I will refer to the person who is having their air taken away as the “bottom.” This is a term used in BDSM that just seems the easiest to use here.
Having the bottom hold their breath
This is simple and will probably save you from prosecution if anything goes wrong with the play. You can simply tell your partner not to breathe. The most important thing to watch with this would be that if they faint you need to make sure they don’t fall and hurt themselves. I think that this is a pretty sexy way to play…and if you have a fetish for objects you can work that into this. For example, if I were doing a scene using this I might hold a ligature loosely around my partner’s neck and tell them not to breath. If I were involved in playing with them in a BDSM context, I might dress it up with some kind of passionate threat that I would strangle them to death with the ligature if they breathed before I gave them permission. Another possibility would be wrapping them in plastic but not covering their mouth and nose. Then telling them not to breathe as I held a feather over their mouth and nose and told them that if they breathed I would punish them.
This is my favorite type of breath play to use. It can be accomplished many ways and I will only name a few here. You can cover your bottom’s mouth and nose with your hands. You can put duct tape (I recommend the name brand) over their mouth and pinch their nose closed with your hands. You can put a gag in their mouth and pinch off their nose with a clothespin. You get the idea. This method needs to take into consideration what will happen if the bottom vomits. I recommend that if you use a gag, it is one that doesn’t have a complicated closure. I recommend Velcro if possible. If you must use a complicated gag, then have some heavy-duty scissors literally in hand to cut through the bondage if you have to get them out of it fast. The stuff to remember with this is all pretty basic and it has little chance of any real problem developing as long as you restore normal breathing to the bottom if they faint.
Queening or Kinging
Okay, so I don’t know if Kinging is the proper term but it is the one I’m going to use because I like it. Queening is basically when a woman smothers a person by pressing her sex into their face so that they can’t breath. Kinging is basically when a man uses his sex to keep a woman from breathing as he pinches her nose closed somehow. I think it is fun to wear a harness with a dildo and use that method of domination myself. Obviously you could smother people with other body parts too, but I won’t go into every part you could use. The risks are all about the same. If anything is in a person’s mouth that could spark a gag reflex, I think it is important not to insert it too deep or someone could throw up and inhale their own vomit. Many of us have faced that fear even when we weren’t doing breath control..haha. If you are sitting on someone’s face, it is really important to have some non-verbal signals since you may not notice if they faint.
Gas Masks or Hoods
I love these. They are some of my personal favorites but they are a tad riskier than the options I mentioned earlier. You can put the bottom in a gas mask (my favorite is the Israeli style) and cover the air inlet. If you are really creative, you can attach a tube to the air inlet and cut the air off by placing the tube opening against the body of the Top or bottom. It is hard to describe how delicious it is to be gasping from lack of air and have the tube placed against one of my nipples so that I am literally sucking on it with each gasp. Be very familiar with the gas mask and how to get it off quick if the bottom vomits from lack of oxygen. In the case of hoods, the first thing I would mention is that you need some way to monitor the bottom’s state while they are in it. Depending on what style hood you are using, you will need to adjust your play style accordingly. I recommend a hood with a mouth opening that you can cover so that it could be open if the person gets sick. If you choose to use some kind of discipline hood that uses tubes in the nose and mouth of your bottom you may want to be especially careful that if your bottom passes out, the tubes won’t get jammed into them too far if they fall. It is also important that you can remove the hood fast if the need arises. As much as I love inflatable hoods, they are slow to remove and I think them poorly suited for breath control play. When you restore breathing to your bottom, it is important that you make sure there is nothing in the air that may hinder their breathing or harm them to inhale through the tubes. I’ve inhaled latex polish and baby powder and I can tell you it isn’t fun.
The main things to keep in mind are all pretty obvious. Remove the bag or plastic if the person faints. I would recommend that the material be held in place by hand. If you opt for another way of holding it in place, try to avoid any pressure to the larynx.
These are usually attached to gas masks or hoods. If you use them that way, see my comments above. If you use these with tubes or something just remember to make sure the tubes don’t go too far down the bottom’s throat or up their nose.
Pressure on the Trachea and/or Hanging
This form of play requires a lot of caution. If you are somehow compressing the trachea, it is important to do so by slowly applying pressure and making sure not to apply pressure to the larynx. One method is to take a curved finger and place it at the part of the throat where it meets the chin and pushing up and back slowly. Another method is to apply pressure below the larynx (sometimes with a scarf). A lot of injuries can occur to the trachea this way if you press too hard. If you are going to use a ligature or noose, it is safer if you use one that doesn’t constrict. If it does, make sure it is wide and padded. If it is too narrow, it will cut or twist the skin causing bruising and damage to things such as blood vessels, nerves, the cervical spine, and the windpipe. It may also be a good idea to use a dry lubricant such as baby powder and a soft type of rope or ligature. If you are hanging someone, it is important never to drop them into place. That could break their spine. I think a really nice form of rigging for hanging is when a person is raised into place with their feet still on the ground. If you decide to try airwalking, there is a significant possibility of damage to the spine.
Compression of the chest
I like to simply have a lover lay on me and make it impossible for me to breathe. I’m rather teeny so if I have a big partner, they can accomplish this pretty easy. Another form of chest compression is corseting. I can personally attest to how wonderfully hot it is to barely be able to breath in when wearing one. If you pursue corseting, you should do some research on that particular topic. However you compress the chest, you need to go slowly and carefully. It would be easy to break a person’s ribs. It is my understanding that when you ease up on someone you should do it slowly or they may faint.
Pressure on the carotid artery
It takes about 15 seconds of pressure on the carotid arteries to cause unconsciousness. If you use this method, bear in mind that you are cutting blood off from the brain and physically stimulating baroreceptors that will cause the vagus nerve to fire off impulses that could cause cardiac arrest. Other than that, it is important to avoid pressure to the larynx and damage to the blood vessels. Do not ever twist the skin or underlying structure of the neck while doing this. It could cause injury to the spine or internal trauma to the neck. A simple way to accomplish this is to stand behind the bottom and place the bend of your elbow in front of your partners throat. Then slowly bend your arm applying pressure on the carotid arteries but not on the front of the throat. Many police forces use this hold but most classify it as a form of deadly force.
This is so incredibly dangerous that it amazes me that anyone is trying it. There are drugs that can induce asphyxia. I don’t recommend them and I won’t list them. I will list the problems with them. First, no one knows the safe dosage for you or your partner. Second, you can’t reverse it quickly if things start to go wrong. Please remember that anesthesiologists train a very long time to be able to knock someone out safely and even when they use the best equipment and drugs available they can lose a person.
Alternate “Breath Play” Methods
- Making your partner aware of their breathing
- Verbal domination of breathing
- Inducing the psychological effects of suffocation
- Gas Mask play
- Scuba or snorkel play
- Controlling what your partner breaths in
- Using breath as a “toy”