Harnessing the Power of Breath for Enhanced Pleasure and Arousal
The parasympathetic system governs our sense of hunger and satiety, the flow of saliva and digestive enzymes, our relaxation response, and many aspects of healthy organ function. On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system prepares us for emergency and stressful situations and shuts down our relaxation response.
Deep belly breathing with the focus on a longer exhale than inhale down-regulates the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for our fight or flight states), which then causes the parasympathetic nervous system to become dominant. What happens when you get to a parasympathetic state? Your body gets into a deeper relaxation state.
In simple terms, long, deep breaths with longer exhale than inhale will heighten your arousal by helping you get out of your head, melt into your body, and feel more receptive to sensation and pleasure.
On the other hand, shallow breathing, breath-holding, and hyper-ventilating trigger the sympathetic nervous system, which results in an energizing and activated state, preparing you to "fight or flight".
The great news is that you can play with both!!!
Both deep relaxation and activated states are essential for our sexual response. If you were only to rest in a deeply relaxed state, you would fall asleep.
Experiment with dancing between both states. Use faster breathing with shorter exhales when you need to generate and rev up your sexual energy. Then switch to slow, deeper breathing with longer exhales than your inhales to melt into your body and bathe in the juicy sexual energy you just generated.
And then again, when you feel like you are becoming a bit lethargic, take a few faster breaths.
Consciously slowing your breath down right before you are about to climax will make the orgasmic sensations stronger and last longer.
There is no magic formula or specific breath counts (that being said, some teachers recommend 4 counts on your inhale and 8 counts on exhale to get to the parasympathetic state). It is about practicing getting into a deeper attunement with your body and observing where your body and mind are and how you can shift between the two states using your breath.