What is Buteyko Breathing?

Buteyko breathing is one of the core facets of my daily health regime. By practicing this breathing method everyday, I’m able to improve my breathing and my overall sense of well-being and health.

This quick video goes over the basic buteyko breathing technique.

Many people believe that breathing more is breathing better, but this simply isn’t true. The Buteyko method, on the other hand, emphasizes breathing less and more slowly. I know I’m performing the method correctly when there is a slight feeling of “air hunger”, or in other words a gentle but tolerable urge to breathe more. Within a couple of minutes of experiencing this air hunger, blood circulation and saliva production increases. These phenomena are also seen in traditional Yoga practice.

The Buteyko breathing method was developed by Dr. Konstantin Buteyko in the former USSR in the late 1950s. He noticed that people with breathing difficulties, and overall poor health, tended to breathe heavily even while at rest and did so primarily through their mouths. Dr. Buteyko therefore concluded that poor health and breathing difficulties are the result of incorrect breathing.

By contrast, people with good health and good breathing tend to breathe a low volume of air through the nose.

Over the course of just a few weeks of regular practice, the Buteyko Breathing Method can help normalize your breathing and bring you to a state of better overall health and well-being.

How Buteyko Breathing Works

We’ve all be taught that deep breathing is the best way to breathe because it lets more oxygen into the lungs. But oxygen deficiency is not caused by a lack of oxygen but rather a lack of carbon dioxide. This means that breathing too much actually prevents oxygen from getting into the bloodstream.

Most people breathe too much for lot’s of different reasons including stress, asthma and inflammation caused by poor diets. What this does is put us in a constant state of hyper-ventilation that’s subtle enough that you might not even notice it.

This is important because, for the reasons stated above, breathing too much saturates the body with too much oxygen that it can’t properly use. This creates a feeling that of not being able to breathe fully that many of us with chronic breathing difficulties know all too well.

The solution to this problem comes in the exhalation process. When we exhale our bodies do not “get rid” of excess carbon dioxide but rather regulates it. Breathing too much or too quickly causes our body to expel all carbon dioxide and prevents proper regulation of oxygen in the bloodstream.

This is exactly why Buteyko breathing emphasizes a slow and steady exhale at the end of each breath. What this does is help to regulate the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. This kind of slow breathing actually makes you more alert and relaxed than the more popular deep breathing exercises.

In fact, Buteyko style breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which results in lowered blood pressure, reduced stress and a stronger immune system.

How To Do Buteyko Breathing

The Control Pause

The core of the Buteyko Breathing Method is the Control Pause. What this simple exercise does is measure the balance of carbon dioxed and oxygen in your body. This test can be done by anyone at any time.

How to do the Buteyko control pause:

Total Time: 2 minutes

Step 1

Breathe normally for 30 seconds.

Step 2

Inhale normally through the nose.

Step 3

Exhale normally through the nose.

Step 4

Pinch your nose closed with your fingers and close your mouth. Begin to count the seconds.

Step 5

When you feel the need to take a breath stop counting and take note of the amount of seconds passed.

Refer to the chart below to track your progress. Each time your control pause increases by 5 seconds, you will feel noticeably healthier and breathing will be easier.

buteyko breathing control pause chart
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This chart will help you track your Buteyko breathing progress. Courtesy of www.buteyko.com.

Buteyko Breathing Technique

This Buteyko breathing technique is really the bread and butter of this breathing methodology. This is the technique you will need to practice in order to increase your control pause score.

This technique is simple and you can learn to do it in just a few minutes. So get comfortable and take a few relaxed breaths before we get started.

Step 1: Inhale normally through your nose.

Step 2: Exhale normally through your nose.

Step 3: Inhale for 2 seconds through your nose.

Step 4: Exhale slowly through your nose for 5 seconds.

Step 5: Hold your breath for 5 seconds.

Step 6: Take another normal breath through your nose and repeat steps 1-5 at least 10 more times.

And that’s really all there is to it. For more information, visit the official Buteyko website here.

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