breath play help and advice needed

topic posted Wed, March 19, 2008 - 7:12 AM by  sue
i hope you may be able to help me as im new to this and my Master would like us to try breath play .Master is much more experienced than me but he also never done this before and W/we would like advice as to the best way to experience this safely .
posted by:
offline sue
United Kingdom
  • Re: breath play help and advice needed

    Wed, March 19, 2008 - 9:15 AM
    Breath play means a lot of different things to different people. Some of them are relatively safe and some have some pretty big inherent dangers.

    Forced overbreathing, of the sort done in tantra and some yogas, "fire breath", is pretty safe. Voluntary hyperoxygenation can be fun and it does have a tendency to make one somewhat mroe sensitive and somewhat high.

    Coached breathing is a staple for much of tantra and for traditional SM. Long slow breaths encouraging relaxation and processing are usually used for this. No dangers that I know of.

    Holding one's breath voluntarily isn't so bad. There don't seem to be any particular dangers.

    Strangulation play is very dangerous. Jay Wiseman has written on this fairly extensively. The problem is that there are a set of nerves near the throat which, for no reason anyone's very clear on aside from physical trauma, occasionally simply stop the heart. Note that I said "stop". The heart doesn't go into fibrilization, so shocking it with a defibrillator doesn't help. In fact, there is no known treatment for this type of heart stoppage. People just simply drop dead from it.

    There are also no known predictors. People playing with strangulation play sometimes erroneously think that because they are young or fit or healthy that they are less likely to have this happen. But it's not true. A couple years ago here on the peninsula, a couple of kids were trading punches in an adolescent game. And an adolescent boy took a blow to his chest, his heart stopped, and he died.

    Strangulation play is just simply dangerous. The danger is real, somewhat uncommon, but when it hits, it's deadly. And there don't seem to be any predictors, or warning signs that anyone has found yet. If you watch Jay's posts, he keeps tabs on such stories and tends to post one death in a news story every couple of months of so which he suspects to have been strangulation play.

    People have tried a number of different ways to mitigate these dangers. The most effective one I've heard of is using a gas mask with a small hose and pinching the hose as a means of restricting breath. Intuitively, that seems like it might avoid most of the crushing problems but still leaves anoxia and the sudden heart stoppage.

    I do a lot with breath play, but almost nothing with breath restriction. If you're really into breath restriction, I suppose you're going to want to try it even if there's a distinct risk of death. My advice is to do a lot more reading until you think you have a clear understanding of what those risks really are. Note that not only do people die, but their partners are frequently prosecuted for murder or manslaughter in such cases as well. Consent is not recognized in the case of death.

    Or were you thinking of a different sort of breath play altogether?
    • Re: breath play help and advice needed

      Wed, March 19, 2008 - 10:18 PM
      >> Strangulation play is very dangerous. Jay Wiseman has written on this fairly extensively. The problem is that there are a set of nerves near the throat which, for no reason anyone's very clear on aside from physical trauma, occasionally simply stop the heart. Note that I said "stop". The heart doesn't go into fibrilization, so shocking it with a defibrillator doesn't help. In fact, there is no known treatment for this type of heart stoppage. People just simply drop dead from it. <<

      Basically, you're right here, TN - but let me just clear up a couple of details.

      The "set of nerves" you are referring to is actually one nerve - the vagus - which has branches that run up each side of the throat, alongside the carotid arteries. Any pressure on this nerve, including the internal pressure generated from just holding one's breath or bearing down only as much as it takes to have a bowel movement, can, in fact, stop the heart.

      The reasons for this are quite well known. That's a major component of the vagus nerve's entire job - to control the heartrate - and baroreceptors (pressure sensors) in it quickly convey the message to slow the heart rate when they sense pressure on them. The danger is that it could slow too much - to a complete standstill, of which there are several types, but all share the characteristic of not producing a pulse, and therefore, not pumping any blood, creating a condition called "death" if it's not reversed PDQ.

      This slowing of the heart rate from stimulation of the vagus nerve is a very well known effect, which is actually utilized intentionally for some specific medical procedures to deliberately slow the heart when it is racing too fast - but the extreme danger of doing this is well-illustrated by the fact that this procedure is only done with a full crash cart (resuscitation supplies) right at hand, because the risk of cardiac arrest is *so* great.

      The heart actually does typically go into ventricular fibrillation (not "fibrilization" ;->), but for some reason, responds extraordinarily poorly to defibrillation and other treatment. It is unknown why cardiac arrests caused by vagal stimulation are next to impossible to resuscitate as opposed to cardiac arrests caused by other things, but that is in fact the case.

      Oxygen deprivation caused by cutting off one's air supply also may interfere with cardiac conduction, ultimately also leading to cardiac arrest.

      There is a lot of bad information out there about breath control play, which would have you believe that the primary risk is depriving the brain of oxygen, but in actuality, it is the vagal stimulation that stops the heart that is actually the far greater risk.

      Jay's essay on breath play should be "must" reading for everyone in the scene, particularly anyone who is contemplating this form of play. It can be found at

      Even if you are *not* interested in breath play, it's useful to know about this in case you ever come across someone who wants to try it on you.
      • Re: breath play help and advice needed

        Thu, March 20, 2008 - 1:41 AM
        Oxygen deprivation has plenty of warning signs and plenty of ways to mitigate the dangers. You can see it coming from a long ways off and there are many ways to decrease the seriousness of that particular failure.

        Sudden, unexpected death is just one huge risk. That's one helluva big risk to be taking for fun, imo. I'm sure other people's mileage varies.

        (thanks for the corrections. I figured I'd bait someone out who had better knowledge. :).
      • Some people claim that breath play is too dangerous for any sane individual to participate in, because of the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Concern about safety is a good thing, as is an examination of the relative risk of any activity. People who scuba dive should know that the more they dive the more risk they have of developing permanent brain lesions. Families who take their teens out on ATVs should know that ATVs are one of the leading causes of accidental death for children in the u.s. Facts, statistics and accurate information is always a good thing. Conversely inaccurate information, misrepresentations of risk and poor presentation of irrelevant statistics is a bad thing. With that in mind lets examine the evidence and facts surrounding sudden cardiac arrest and breath control play.

        Sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) can happen at any time with little or no warning. Any exertion which raises your heart rate can induce an SCA.

        *”Retrospective and cross-sectional data suggest that vigorous exertion can trigger cardiac arrest”* [Triggering of Sudden Death from Cardiac Causes by Vigorous Exertion new england journal of medicine](

        The exertion doesn’t even have to be vigorous, it can be moderate or light. Hell even normal vanilla sexual activity can trigger cardiac arrest.

        [Physical activity as a trigger of sudden cardiac arrest: the Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study. Int J Cardiol. 2009 Jan 24;131(3):345-9. Epub 2008 Feb 21.](

        In spite of these facts, people participate by the millions in activities which have been known to induce SCA.

        Why?, because most people don’t stop doing activities they love because there is a one in a million chance that they may die. Having sex, gardening, hauling a deer out of the woods, going for a jog, dancing have all induced cardiac arrest in thousands of people. People don’t lug around automated external defibrillators while engaging in these “dangerous activities”. If you follow the logic of some BDSM “experts” everyone should have am AED in their bedroom.

        What is the real issue with cardiac arrest are the risk factors. Some one with several risk factors has a much higher chance of dying from SCA than other people. What are some of these risk factors?
        Leading a sedentary lifestyle (i.e. not exercising 2-3 times a week)
        Drinking more than 2 drinks a day
        using cocaine,pcp, poppers or many other illicit drugs
        CAD or a family history of CAD
        high blood pressure
        high cholesterol

        The best safety advice anyone can give is to work out, eat well and avoid smoking. Individuals who do these things drastically reduce their chance of dying from a SCA, regardless of the potentially triggering activities they participate in. People with several of these risk factors can end up dying because they were pumping away fucking their partner, straining during a bowel movement, were surprised by car honking or almost anything that would normally be considered pretty damn safe.

        O.k. now let’s look at the evidence surrounding breath play as a potential trigger for sudden cardiac arrest. There are many activities which have been known to trigger SCAs, which have not had studies published covering the epidemiology for that specific activity. That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of relevant information and studies directly (or indirectly) related to assessing the relative risk of breath play as a trigger.

        We can look at
        judo/martial artists
        suspects who are the subject of police neck restraint techniques.

        What are we looking for? Evidence that breath play has a higher probability of inducing sudden cardiac arrest than any other form of physical exertion.

        Let’s take the judo/martial arts evidence first. Judo, sambo, brazilian jui-jitsu, traditional jui-jitsu, submission wrestling, mma and other grappling arts regularly utilize suffocation and artery chokes. They practice them, they apply them full force when sparring or competing, basically they are engaging in “breath play” all the time. Both participants are consensually agreeing to participate, just like in BDSM. Both participants are familiar with and use a safe word (called tapping out ), just like many kinksters. if the chokee goes limp, the choker stops and applies recovery techniques(after care in BDSM terminology). Martial artists lift the legs to help rush blood back to the brain. In short the similarities between martial arts and BDSM is close enough that information from that population should be considered useful.

        Some people will argue that evidence from martial arts should be ignored, because all martial artists are in shape and many BDSM people are not. Even if that were true, it still has nothing to do with the value of the information. It simply tells us what we already know, being obese, and not exercising can put you at risk for sudden cardiac arrest triggered by any form of exertion.

        The fact is that the statement is actually false. Walk into any gym/dojo in the country and you will find people who only show up once or twice a week or so, and are NOT in “excellent shape”. You will also see people who signed up to “get into shape”. Even if only 1% of the 8 million judo practitioners were “out of shape” that is still 80,000 out of shape individuals choking and being choked week in and week out with out any evidence of increased incidence of sudden cardiac arrest. Even if the “they are in shape so it doesn’t count” argument was to be taken seriously, all that really means is that you should exercise regularly if you are going to do breath play ( a position I whole heartedly support). Still, with an assumption that 1% of judo practitioners may be in less than perfect shape and assuming that they only get choked maybe 3 times a week (an insanely low estimate) that is still over 12 million chokes a year with no documented sudden cardiac arrests

        Actually there are no documented cases of sudden cardiac arrest being induced by a choke in the gym/dojo and that’s with a 100 years of choking going on at judo dojos around the world[1]. You would figure if chokes were more likely to trigger SCAs there would be hundreds if not thousands of recorded incidents. I mean if we use the previous figures 12 million chokes a year done on people in average or less than average health. Over the last 20 years alone that’s 240,000,000 estimated choking events with no documented cardiac arrests. That's one helluva track record.

        O.k. now let’s look at the police statistics. Certain BDSM “experts” focus a lot on these statistics, but they either don’t really understand them, or they purposefully mischaracterize them.

        First let’s look at the differences between police use of “neck restraint” and breath play.

        Police are usually applying pressure to the neck of a violently resisting suspect. It’s not a voluntary or consensual act.

        The point of police use of neck restraint is to control and cause pain in an attempt to make a violently resisting suspect comply and cease struggling. It’s pain and compliance the police are looking for, not really to “choke” a suspect.

        Police are frequently applying the technique while several other officers are on top of the struggling suspect referred to as a “piggie pile”, which is also different than BDSM breath play.

        Violent suspects are often on PCP,Crack cocaine, Drunk or otherwise under the influence of chemicals which are in themselves known triggers for cardiac arrest. [2][3][4]

        Violent suspects may be in a clinical state called “excited delirium” which is condition which can induce cardiac arrest. Actually it is frequently listed as the cause of death for suspects being restrained by the police. And that is many forms of restraint, other than choke holds. [5]

        All right, even with all those differences, lets take a look at the statistics and see what they tell us.

        In 1990, a study was published in the Journal of Violence Victims entitled “Mortality associated with the use of upper-body control holds by police.” The authors reviewed 9 years of police records from all major urban centers in the United States. Twenty deaths were found. That’s 20 in 9 years in a review of major urban centers, not a large percentage by any means, actually well below 1% of restraint cases. In most of these cases there were underlying factors: to quote

        *“This investigation points to three factors potentially associated with control hold-related death that deserve further investigation: Phencyclidine (PCP) use, sickle cell trait [where your red blood cells are the wrong shape], and stress-related arrhythmias [abnormal beating] in the heart. PCP was detected in blood or other tissues from 6 of 17 decedents [those who died] tested. Intravascular [inside the blood vessels] red blood cell sickling was found at autopsy in 4 of 14 black decedents (29%). Four decedents had some indication of cardiovascular abnormalities.”* [6]

        So if you are on PCP, have underlying pathologies, violently resist arrest and have to be restrained by the police you may be at risk of serious bodily harm, and cardiac arrest.

        When you dispassionately review the actual evidence, there really is nothing indicating that breath play will put you at any higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest than fucking your brains out, or playing basketball. On the other hand if you are a smoker who doesn’t exercise and you do a few hits of crack cocaine, you might have cardiac arrest from walking up a few flights of stairs, or engaging in breath play.

        [1] Deaths allegedly caused by the use of "choke holds" (shime-waza).
        J Forensic Sci. 1987 Mar;32(2):419-32.
        Koiwai EK

        [2] Cardiac Arrest in Patients Who Smoke Crack Cocaine
        American Journal of Cardiology Volume 99, Issue 6 , Pages 822-824, 15 March 2007
        Priscilla Y. Hsue, MD, David McManus, MD, Van Selby, MD, Xiushui Ren, MD, Priya Pillutla, MD, Naji Younes, PhD, Nora Goldschlager, MD, David D. Waters, MD

        [3] Effects of alcohol on the heart
        Current Opinion in Critical Care: October 2001 - Volume 7 - Issue 5 - pp 337-343
        Spies, Claudia D. MD*; Sander, Michael MD*; Stangl, Karl PhD; Fernandez-Sola, Joaquim PhD; Preedy, Victor R. PhD§; Rubin, Emanuel MD; Andreasson, Sven MD; Hanna, Eleanor Z. PhD; Kox, Wolfgang J. PhD

        [4]Acute phencyclidine intoxication: Incidence of clinical findings in 1,000 cases
        Annals of Emergency Medicine Volume 10, Issue 5 , Pages 237-242, May 1981
        MD, FACP Margaret M. McCarron, PharmD Bernd W. Schulze, PharmD Gregory A. Thompson, BA Meta C. Conder, BS, MES Walter A. Goet

        [5] Unexpected death related to restraint for excited delirium: a retrospective study of deaths in police custody and in the community.
        CMAJ. 1998 Jun 16;158(12):1603-7.
        Pollanen MS, Chiasson DA, Cairns JT, Young JG

        [6] Mortality associated with the use of upper-body control holds by police.
        Violence Vict. 1990 Fall;5(3):215-22.
        Mercy JA, Heath CW Jr, Rosenberg ML.
  • Re: breath play help and advice needed

    Wed, March 19, 2008 - 11:24 AM
    Read this:
    Decide what kind of breath-play turns you on and has acceptable risks.

    I use rope tightness around the ribcage to affect my bottom's breathing capabilities, constantly adjusting to increase or decrease the ease of taking a breath. I know a fair amount about anatomy and this helps me gauge what I am doing. Some might not even consider this breath-play.

    Learn as much as you can about the body in general, and about yours in particular.

    Have fun and good luck.

  • Re: breath play help and advice needed

    Thu, March 20, 2008 - 6:13 AM
    when i first got ino BDSM i was interested in asphixiation play, but then i read Jay's piece on it and felt the dangers were too great. i went back to my Master and we discussed it and decided to take it off ur 'to do' list. we still do some breath play, mostly covering of the mouth and nose, usually when i'm bound and helpless. But it's more of a theatrical thing than anything else. kind of a reminder of His control over me. He only does it a few seconds and it is a rush knowing He could do it longer if He chose, but it's nothing either of us want to push the limits on. there are lots of other fun things to do than risk death while playing. so for us light breath play - yes asphyxiation play - no
    • Re: breath play help and advice needed

      Thu, March 20, 2008 - 11:34 AM
      i must admit this is my favorite type of play - play is a strange word to associate breathing with. But, hey. The wearing of corsets can be a nice way to encorporate breathing restriction too. And you look quite sexy at the same time !!!
    • Re: breath play help and advice needed

      Thu, March 20, 2008 - 10:41 PM
      subbygirl, I think you nailed it for me. I love breath play, but in all honesty don't do much to the extreme. It's more symbolic...the knowledge that I COULD do more if I wanted to. For me, it's the response I get that is the greater turn on. Just my perspective.
  • Re: breath play help and advice needed

    Fri, March 21, 2008 - 5:09 AM
    I like very mutch this kinf of play, now we know a lots about the danger, and the Dim mak touch of death, I will share some of the play I done.

    Kiss of live.
    You block the nose of the suby with one, and kiss you suby with your mouth.
    All your mouth should covert his, this way if you need a breath you can use your own nose.
    You can easly give or take breath this way, with a very long french kiss is very nice.
    Release on the first sign of oxygen need from your suby,

    Water please.
    With the help of a textil, not to heavy, we covert the face, normaly breathing should not be affected.
    But when you add some water to it, breathing become more difficulte.
    I use it more in a interogation scene.

    I place a hand on the mouth, normaly I am able to block the nose at well.
    but to make this safe I nomaly just increase the stress or the phisical activity to increase the breath speed.
    So she just can breath whit her nose.

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