Buteyko Breathing

What is the Buteyko breathing method?

The Buteyko Method is built upon the premise that you survive on food, water, and air. When it comes to air,  the quantity of air has a huge impact on our health.  The Buteyko Method teaches you how to reduce your air intake, and bring your breathing volume back toward normal.  It works to correct or reverse chronic hyperventilation and overbreathing. When your breathing is normal, you have better oxygenation of tissues and organs as well as improved brain function.

Who does Buteyko breathing help?

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Western world have successfully applied the Buteyko method to resolve and relieve symptoms of breathing problems such as:

  • Asthma
  • ADHD
  • Rhinitis/HayFever
  • Anxiety
  • Dental Health
  • Stress
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Poor sleep and insomnia

What does the Buteyko method teach?

  • Learning how to unblock the nose using breath hold exercises
  • Switching from mouth breathing to nasal breathing
  • Relaxation of the diaphragm and creating a mild air shortage
  • Making small and easy lifestyle changes to assist with better long-term breathing methods
  • Measuring your breathing volume and tracking your progress using a special breath hold test called the Control Pause (see below for more details)

What are the benefits of the Buteyko method?

  • A reduction in asthma symptoms
  • A reduction in the need for asthma medications
  • Control of over breathing

Breathing through your nose more clearly.  As you begin to breathe exclusively through your nose and abandon mouth breathing, your nose starts to water and you frequently have to blow it. Eventually your nasal passages will dramatically expand and it becomes much easier to get all your air through your nose rather than your mouth. It may take a few months to work up to it, but once you are there you will rarely if ever need to breathe through your mouth again, even under the most extreme circumstances.

What Evidence is there to Support the Buteyko method?

The success of the Buteyko method in the treatment of asthma is backed by hard scientific data. Clinical trials funded by the Australian Association of Asthma Foundations in 1994 at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane demonstrated that asthmatics were able to reduce their symptomatic medication intake by 90% and their steroid medication by 30%. This reduction in medication was accompanied by improvements in their general health and quality of life.

Typical characteristics of overbreathing include mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing, noticeable breathing during rest, and taking large breaths prior to talking.

How Do You Know When You’re Breathing Correctly?

Place one hand on your chest and your other hand just above your navel. Begin to breathe.  What is moving?  What is your chest doing? What are your shoulders doing? As you breathe in, is your stomach pushing out or is it pushing in towards your abdomen?

Begin to gently slow down your breathing, reducing the size of each breath and focus on what your body is doing.

Correct breathing entails quiet breathing in and out through only the nose.  There is no shoulder or visual upper movement of the chest.  As you breathe in your stomach should be like a balloon filling up with air and pushing out.  As you exhale, your belly should be deflating like a balloon and pushing in toward your body.

How Do You Recognize if You are Over Breathing?

Growing up, I vividly recall my grandfather sighing regularly, sniffing and hearing him breathe heavy when he was sitting in his favorite chair.  As a kid I chopped it up to him being annoyed or frustrated with people but I know now he suffered from over breathing.

Over breathing is more common than you think, and it is often an underlying sign of many dysfunctions.  If you notice the following signs in someone, they are most likely over breathing:

  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Hearing breathing at rest (no activity)
  • Sighing regularly
  • Sniffing regularly
  • Taking large breaths prior to talking
  • Yawning with big breaths
  • Upper chest or shoulder movement when breathing