When was the last time you took a really deep breath? More specifically, when was the last time you took a breath with the intention of sending it to your genitals? I’m talking about a breath that goes all the way down to your dick.
Alexis Blair Penney suggests you take such a breath.
Penney is a yoga teacher, sexual healer, writer and performance artist. Last month, I attended their workshop, “Many Waters: A Moving Meditation on Sexuality and the Sacred,” in the penthouse at the Standard Hotel in Downtown L.A. I admired the rain pouring through the windows with the other attendees — apt for the title of the event — and then circled up with the rest of the class to begin our yoga poses and breathwork. Before long, we were listening to a cover of “Sweet Jane” by Cowboy Junkies while holding long, hip-opening postures, sending breaths to the connective tissues that hold our pelvic region together and increasing our awareness of that area.
According to Penney, too many of us feel alienated from the more subtle sensations of this hip-genital-pelvis area because we only pay attention to it when we’re having sex:
“Deep breathing is a big challenge for most people, including most guys, but when you’re taking these shallow breaths that hang out in your chest, you’re enforcing this status quo of your head and your thoughts being somehow distinct from your body and limiting blood flow to your lower body.
“In terms of sexuality, this manifests in these sporadic sexual eruptions we often associate with male sexuality, where sexuality isn’t integrated into the rest of their life or their body because it’s thought of as separate from who they are or how they experience the world otherwise. And when you alienate sexuality in this way, it can easily become an over-fixation where suddenly you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m so crazy horny…’
“Even if you have a great relationship to your body, your sexuality can still be pocketed away as this private, shameful thing because of how weird of a sexual culture we live in. For example, we have these bizarre fixations around dick size and girth, and your dick becomes a physical repository of all those things. Engaging with a breathing practice confronts you with increased bodily sensation that can transform some of this thinking or behavior.”
Basically what they’re saying is that deep breathing can bring balance to your sex drive and experience of pleasure by dealing with the emotional energy stored in your nether regions, which is known in yogic traditions as the sacral plexus chakra, or sacral plexus energy center.
Again, per Penney:
“The sacral plexus is an energy center connected to your sexual organs, your pelvis and your hips. We spend time with our sacral regions in hopes of connecting deeper to our intimate selves, and thus, becoming more able to connect deeply to others. Through breath, you can reroute your own sensitivity and open up to new physical connections, where the most subtle things can become so erotic and pleasurable.
“It’s empowering to explore what else feels good on your body and to notice what parts of you are receiving sensation besides your genitals. That’s when your sexuality is no longer so limited to your dick.”
Penney suggests that even if you’ve never had a breathing practice before, you should at least try it the next time you cum:
“I encourage people with dicks to breathe slowly and deeply after they cum, especially drawing our their exhales so they’re very slow — all while visualizing the energy that’s just been released from your penis rippling out through your entire body. The idea of Kundalini in yoga is that when you’re having sex, you’re harnessing this primal creative force, so the experience can be quite healing. You can use your breath to integrate that healing energy into the whole body instead of containing the pleasure of what happened in this limited part of you.”
The reality, however, is that our breathing sucks pretty much all the time — not just when we’re attempting to stoke the sacral plexus energy center or right after we’ve cum. As Dr. Ryan Greene from Monarch Athletic Club told my colleague John McDermott last year, “more than 95 percent of the population doesn’t breathe correctly.” So whether enhancing your sexuality is your inspiration or not, you’d do well to improve how air travels from your lungs to your mouth, according to Greene:
“The appropriate way to breathe is from your diaphragm, which is located at the bottom of your ribcage. If you’re breathing from your diaphragm, your stomach will expand and distend, and you’ll have a little Buddha belly situation going on. When you breathe from your diaphragm, it pushes down on your internal organs — liver, kidneys, etc. — and that activates your vagus nerve, allowing you to relax.”
So get to breathing better.
At the very worst, it’ll bring you a little more chill.
And at the very best, it’ll help you fuck better.