What Is Buteyko Breathing Technique?

Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) is a breathing retraining method that is designed to restore the individual's normal breathing rate and depth. When the breathing is back to normal, the individual will have better oxygenation of tissues and organs, including the brain. It was developed by medical scientist Konstantin Buteyko in the 1950s to resolve a number of bodily dysfunctions by normalizing breathing.

Dr Buteyko found that overbreathing reduces carbon dioxide, causing blood vessels to contract and decrease supply of oxygen to the body's organs and tissues. This results in a wide range of chronic illnesses which include:

  • Anxiety or panic disorders
  • Asthma and other respiratory problems
  • Dental and other orthodontic problems
  • Eczema and other skin problems
  • Digestive disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperventilation
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Snoring
  • Excessive tiredness

What is Buteyko Breathing Technique?

How Does Buteyko Breathing Technique Work?

To correctly perform the exercises, you will need a comfortable chair and a quiet room. As much as possible, there should be few distractions, and the temperature in the room should neither be too hot nor too cold.

BBT is best performed either at least two hours after eating or before eating. The exercise can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Start all BBT exercises by checking and recording the pulse and control pause time. The control pause time is the length of time when the person is holding their breath.
  2. Sit in a straight-backed chair to allow the feet to rest comfortably on the floor. By sitting tall in the chair, it allows the head, shoulders, and hips to be perfectly aligned.
  3. Close the eyes and focus on your breathing. Feel the air that moves in and out of the nostrils. If your mind starts to wander, return the focus on the nostrils and refocus on that sensation.
  4. Then, relax the shoulders and any tension that may be holding in your body, such as your face and hands.
  5. Place an index finger under your nose to check the volume of air that is flowing through the nostrils
  6. Take shallow breaths first, use your finger to gauge your respiration rate. Start to breathe again the moment you feel the air hitting your finger. This will reduce the volume of air that is flowing into the lungs while increasing the number of breaths taken. Try to maintain this for at least three to five minutes.
  7. If you are gasping, this is because you have reduced your volume of air too quickly. Slow down a little, and you will find your rhythm eventually to ease into shallower breathing.
  8. Re-check your pulse and control pause time after three to five minutes.
  9. Take a few minutes before starting the exercise again. It is ideal to spend at least 20 minutes per day on this, and repeat the breath exercises four times.

What Are the Benefits of Buteyko Breathing Technique?

Breathing should be second nature to everybody, but when done unnaturally, it makes the body unwell. Normalising breathing volume with the Buteyko Breathing Technique will improve the quality of life and prevent all sorts of illnesses. Although originally developed to treat patients with asthma, BBT is now used to address a variety of health conditions as well, including:

  • Respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, coughing, pneumonia, influenza, etc.
  • Hyperventilation
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus
  • Sleep problems
  • Obesity
  • Sinusitis
  • Emphysema
  • Hypertension
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Skin conditions
  • Anaemia
  • Eosinophilia
  • Blood clots

What Can You Expect From Buteyko Breathing Technique?

It takes time and regular practice to see the positive effects of the Buteyko Breathing Technique. In the beginning, you will need the guidance of a trained BBT practitioner for mastery of nasal breathing. Once you have managed to switch from mouth breathing to nasal breathing, you can practise BBT unsupervised.

Your Buteyko instructor will prescribe a program, which includes the number of times you must practise BBT each day. The first set of exercises usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. Apart from the exercises, the practitioner will also recommend lifestyle changes to speed up your recuperation and improve the overall quality of your life.

You can book a trained practitioner of Buteyko Breathing Technique online if you prefer to do the exercises in the comfort of your home rather than go to a clinic. 

Is Buteyko Breathing Technique Safe?

Yes, the Buteyko Breathing Technique is not only safe and devoid of side effects, but it's so easy to learn that even children can do it. Practising it regularly makes people less reliant on medications that come with numerous side effects.