Choking, when used in a BDSM context, is an element of the activity known as breath control. The practice involves restriction of the breath and blood supply to the brain by applying pressure to the blood-rich carotid arteries. Most commonly, choking is done with bare hands, a forearm to the throat, known as a choke hold, or with a prop such as a scarf or length of rope.
More About Choking
Choking is considered to be edge play, as the practice constricts or entirely blocks off a person’s air supply. It may cause severe and permanent damage to the carotid arteries and larynx. In severe cases it may even cause death, either directly or by bringing on a heart attack. There is no completely safe way to choke a person, although there are safer ways to do it. Despite this, some people still engage in choking to seek a sexual high.
Many submissive individuals enjoy being choked as the practice reinforces their partner’s dominance over them. They also enjoy the lightheaded feeling that comes from choking.
Experts agree that the best way to choke someone is to apply pressure directly to the carotid arteries on either side of the neck rather than the windpipe. These arteries carry blood rich in oxygen from the heart to the brain. When they are compressed the brain loses oxygen and accumulates carbon dioxide, which creates a giddy, euphoric feeling that heightens all the senses. These sensations will last from three to five seconds, after which the person being choked will pass out.
Given the very high risks, choking should never be done alone. A person who chokes their partner should also be familiar with CPR. Choking a partner until they pass out should never be attempted by anyone who is not already very experienced with choking. Communication before, during, and after choking is crucial. As the person being choked will not be able to communicate verbally while being choked, it’s smart to establish a safe action to use if the person is feeling uncomfortable.