Prepping for sex isn’t always easy. Sometimes, you need to shave and sometimes you need to shower. Maybe the sheets need a change. Maybe you need a change. Maybe you’ll feel inspired to pick up some wine, or flowers (or edibles). Maybe you’ll get a babysitter. Maybe you’ll book a hotel. Maybe both plans will go to hell. Sometimes, sex can stress us out. But the simplest solution is also one of the best: You can breathe your way to better sex. A few easy breathing exercises can help us to relax, concentrate, and last longer in bed, all of which contribute to better sex.
Stress can kill good sex. And one of the best ways to slash it is to pay attention to your breathing, which can improve cognition and circulation, and give us a boost of energy. According to Kait Scalisi, a pleasure-based sex educator, being mindful about our breathing is one of the easiest ways to improve the bedroom experience — even if you’re trying to keep the volume down. It’s also one of the easiest things to overlook. Here are five breathing exercises that lead to better sex.
“For many people, lower stress is a major part of having more intimate, exciting, and fulfilling sex,” says Scalisi. Deep breathing, she explains, is key to staying calm. That’s because it’s linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, the reflex responsible for the “rest and digest” response. Shallow breathing, on the other hand, is more closely associated with the sympathetic nervous system, the reflex responsible for the “flight or fight” response. Of course, different folks enjoy different kinds of sex, but having sex in a relaxed state seems slightly more appealing than getting it on under acute stress.
According to Scalisi, we don’t often take deep enough breaths during sex. Too often, we lean into shallow breathing, especially around orgasm. By doing that, we’re actually cheating ourselves out of a better sexual experience. “Deeper breathing can help us achieve deeper, stronger and longer-lasting orgasms,” says Scalisi. It can also help us feel more connected to our partner in the moment.
Scalisi also suggest breathing through just your nose. “This brings in more oxygen than breathing through your mouth, gives you a natural high from the nitric oxide, and engages your core and pelvic floor differently,” she explains. But breathing adventurers beware: This is an exercise to start out, as it will get decidedly more difficult the as things heat up.
Use Your Muscles
“When you take a deep breath, it engages your pelvic floor,” says Scalisi. She is, of course, referring to the hammock-shaped muscles that stretch between the tailbone and pubic bone. These are the same muscles that contract during orgasm and are connected to your core, she explains. If you’re having a hard time differentiating between the two types of breathing, try paying attention to the sounds you’re making. “Breathing more deeply sounds more like moans and groans than high pitched yips,” says Scalisi.
Breathe Into Your Body
During sex, Scalisi recommends breathing deeply and focusing on your genitalia while doing so to enhance pleasure. “As your pleasure builds, think about taking deep breathes all the way into your genitals,” she adds. “This will shift your focus there, heightening your sensation and making it more likely to experience orgasm.”
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practicing focused breathing on your own can help prepare for a partnered experience. Scalisi suggests doing a little yoga before diving into bed. “Inhale through your nose,” she suggests. “Imagine your pelvic floor moving down and away from you, as if you arched your back. As you exhale, feel it lifting up.” Doing this, she says “helps bring your attention to the pelvic floor, allowing you to engage with it more completely and heightening your sensations so that every stroke, lick, and plunge feels that much yummier.”