Buteyko Exercises

 

When we started out in 2002 breath-work was almost exclusively the domain of athletics and eastern disciplines. Then as an ever-increasing amount of studies came in showing the correlation between hyperventilation and common ailments and the benefits of slow diaphragmatic nasal breathing the medical community started to recommend breathing programmes more often.

Today optimal breathing is considered fundamental to well being. The reason is obvious: The way we breathe affects every cell in our body. Whether you suffer from asthma (1), rhino-sinusitis (2), poor sleep (3), anxiety (4), reduced heart rate variability (5) or stress (6), you should really take a closer look at your breathing.

Learning Buteyko is not about practising breathing exercises and then going back to poor habits. It is a method that teaches you how to change your breathing full time so that your breathing is continuously: nasal, slow and diaphragmatic. In short, we will train you to breathe optimally. Find out why our students say: “everyone should try this.”

Training Objectives

Your personalised training routine will re-educate your breath in order to:

• Decrease the sensitivity you have towards carbon dioxide and thus be able to normalise your breathing volume and respiratory rate (resetting your breathing centre)
• Lessen any fear response that is associated with your breathing
• To become habituated to full-time nasal breathing
• To monitor and prevent upper chest mouth breathing
• To monitor and foster nasal diaphragmatic breathing
• To train your breath to have a pause after each exhalation rather than your breathing being continuous and shallow
• To become accustomed to controlling your inhalations and exhalations under stress

In short these exercises allow your breath to always have the following characteristics:

  1. Nasal
  2. Slow and quiet
  3. Diaphragmatic
  4. With an optimal respiratory rate and volume
  5. With a natural pause after each exhalation

Our Advice

Stick with It: 

Most of the exercises can be practised while you are doing other things, however like anything that is new it may be a little hard for you at the start. Our advice is to get past the first couple of weeks.

The Benefits After Just Two weeks:

For those with asthma: you will have less wheezing and coughing and quieter breathing. Allergy sufferers, you will have less congestion, less fatigue and you will begin to notice how your consumption of tissue has gone down!
If you have anxiety or stress while your triggers may not go away they will be more easily managed. This is because the fight or flight symptoms that are generated by your triggers are lessened. In simpler terms: the levels at which you feel anxiety, irritability or sadness will be much less extreme. Your sleep will also improve: you will sleep deeper,  wake up less and be more alert throughout your day.

Two weeks is also usually when the exercises become easier to do. Measure your Control Pause before every exercise session for extra motivation and commit to the two-week challenge.

Buteyko FAQ

Some of our most frequently asked questions and answers

The Buteyko breathing method has been shown to be effective in any condition where hyperventilation/over-breathing is a factor. Studies and results from persons suffering from conditions such as anxiety, panic and stress disorders, sleep apnea, snoring and allergies show an efficacy.

Both Patrick and Ciaran Mckeown have deviated septums! Septal deviations are common. About 70 to 80 percent of people have a septal deviation that’s noticeable. Having a deviated septum has not stopped the thousands of people whom we have trained from applying the method.

Panic attacks and anxiety begin with the feeling of fight, freeze or flight symptoms. Think of this as being the body’s fire alarm going off, however, there is no fire. Then what happens is that these symptoms are interpreted as being proof that there is indeed some danger. This in turn causes an even greater fear response and more strongly felt symptoms. This is what is known as the panic cycle. When you learn to breathe optimally and prevent hyperventilation these fight, freeze or flight symptoms get turned down.

The standard test for measuring airway obstruction is the peak flow or spirometry. Spirometry measures your forced expiratory volume or in more simple terms how much air you can blow out in one second. However, as many asthmatics experience the test itself is enough to bring on a cough, wheeze or chest tightness. As the test itself causes airways to obstruct, it is not a reliable indicator. A more reliable indicator of asthma symptoms is the Control Pause.

Your nose is blocked because you were breathing heavy through your mouth and using your upper chest. Find out more about what you can do here.

We advise all our students to stick with the method for at least 2 weeks. For those with asthma: you will have less wheezing and coughing and quieter breathing. Allergy sufferers, you will have less congestion, less fatigue and you will begin to notice how your consumption of tissue has gone down!
If you have anxiety or stress while your triggers may not go away they will be more easily managed. This is because the fight or flight symptoms that are generated by your triggers are lessened. In simpler terms: the levels at which you feel anxiety, irritability or sadness will be much less extreme.

Yes. Regardless of your respiratory condition- the Buteyko method is very effective for stopping wheezing, coughing or breathless. The Buteyko Method is practically 100% successful in dealing with these symptoms. Chronic hyperventilation is the cause of coughing, wheezing and excess mucus. The Buteyko method reverses chronic hyperventilation thereby reversing these symptoms.

Central to the Buteyko Method is a breath hold measurement called the Control Pause. This measurement is a breath hold time until you feel the first hunger for air or first involuntary movements of your breathing muscles. You can apply this test from here. The lower your control pause, the greater your breathing volume.

The objective of the Buteyko Method is to change breathing volume from being too much to the required four to six litres per minute. During normal breathing of four to six litres, the blood is saturated with 95 to 98% oxygen.

Breathing more air than normal does not increase the saturation of oxygen in the blood. Instead it causes the removal of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not just a waste gas. We need a certain amount of it for normal bodily function. A reduced partial pressure of carbon dioxide causes blood vessels and airways to constrict, changes pH of the blood in an alkaline direction and impairs the release of oxygen from haemoglobin. When you bring your breathing volume to normal, organs and systems receive more oxygen. Chronic hyperventilation reduces oxygenation of organs and systems. You are chronically hyperventilating until your CP is forty seconds.

Your breathing throughout the day should be relaxed. The objective is not to reduce breathing by constricting tummy muscles. The objective is to create a tolerable air shortage by relaxation of the respiratory muscles. It is very helpful to feel relaxation of the chest and tummy throughout the day. Bringing relaxation to the body will reduce breathing volume. Everyone says breathe deeper- these people do not know about respiratory physiology. You have a stomach but you don’t fill it with food at every moment of the day. In the same way our lungs should not be filled with air by deliberately breathing heavy. There needs to be a match between our breathing volume and metabolic requirements.

Apart from infants the Buteyko method can be learnt at any age. It is simple, safe and effective.

Roughly two thirds of those who apply Buteyko will experience a cleansing reaction within the first two weeks. Cleansing reactions are indicative of the powerful physiological change which the body undergoes. For people with asthma, the most common reaction is excess mucus from the nose and airways. For a few days and weeks, the nose may be runny, especially during physical activity with nasal breathing. It is also possible to experience an increased amount of mucus moving up from the lower airways. In addition, there may be other symptoms such as a slight headache, diarrhoea, increased yawning, and cold like symptoms or a general feeling of being unwell. Symptoms are, in general, not disruptive and will pass in two or three days. Like any detoxifying process of the body, there is a short adjustment phase. On a positive note, everyone will experience signs of health improvement including: fewer asthma symptoms; less coughing, wheezing and congestion especially in the mornings; increased calmness and concentration; better sleep and more energy, and reduced appetite and cravings for chocolate and other foodstuffs.

Yes, expected reduction of coughing , wheezing, breathlessness is 50% within two weeks. This is a standard expectation and is regardless of how long one has had symptoms for. Mild to moderate asthmatics can expect to significantly reduce or eliminate their need for reliever and steroid medication following correct application of the Buteyko Method.

1. New Zealand Medical Journal: Buteyko Breathing Technique for asthma, an effective intervention

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14752538/

2.University of Limerick: Role of Buteyko breathing technique in asthmatics with nasal symptoms

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236194462_Role_of_Buteyko_breathing_technique_in_asthmatics_with_nasal_symptoms

3. Breathing retraining in sleep apnoea: a review of approaches and potential mechanisms

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31940122/

4. How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/

5. Frontiers in Public Health: The Impact of Resonance Frequency Breathing on Measures of Heart Rate Variability, Blood Pressure, and Mood

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5575449/

6. Frontiers in psychology: The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/