Buteyko Exercises

In our lessons we will give you an overview of the Buteyko method procedure and provide you with one on one guidance in finding your Control Pause and the following Buteyko breathing exercises:

  • Nasal Stress Exercise 1- familiarisation to nasal breathing

  • Many Small Breath Holds – create air hunger and pause training

  • Breathe Light Exercise – normalise breathing volume

  • Nasal Stress Exercise 2 – nose unblocking and inhalation control

  • Cadence Breathing – slow reduced breathing with prolonged exhalations

  • Steps Exercise – moderate to strong air hunger exercise

  • Hands Cupping Face – distress relief exercise

Why do we teach these exercises?

Our exercises re-educate your breath in order to:

•Bring a greater awareness and agency towards your breath
•Lessen any fear response that is associated with your breathing
•To become habituated to full-time nasal diaphragmatic optimal breathing
•To monitor and prevent upper chest mouth breathing
•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)
•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. Diaphragmatic
  3. With an optimal respiratory rate and volume
  4. 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

Buteyko breathing exercises should not be performed during pregnancy. The best option is for mothers to learn the method and have a high Control Pause prior to becoming pregnant.

Persons having the following conditions, unfortunately,  are not suitable candidates for learning the Buteyko method: Sickle cell anaemia; arterial aneurysm; very high uncontrolled blood pressure; any heart problems in the past three months; uncontrolled hyperthyroidism; a known brain tumour or kidney disease. Buteyko breathing exercises should also not be taken up during pregnancy.

Persons suffering from diabetes: a reversal of hyperventilation will reduce blood sugar levels which may, in turn, lead to a diabetic coma, exercises must be performed only under the direct supervision of a healthcare professional such as an endocrinologist or diabetes nurse. Supervision when performing Buteyko exercises is also required for sufferers of severe asthma, emphysema, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

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.