The Buteyko breathing technique was introduced to Australia from Russia in the early 1990s. Early on the method was popular with adults and children suffering from asthma. However, recently, the Buteyko Method has shown to be efficacious in helping improve a number of breathing related health problems such as:
- Respiratory: asthma, rhinitis, hay fever
- Neurological: Anxiety, stress and panic attacks
- Childhood development: dental health, craniofacial development and ADHD
- Sleep disordered breathing: insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea
- Digestive disorders: IBS, chronic constipation and diarrhoea
Developed in 1952 by Ukrainian Dr Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, (Bhew-tae-ko) the Buteyko Method is a breathing technique designed to improve functional breathing patterns. While breathing is an involuntary activity, it is subject to change by stresses of everyday life, processed foods, food allergies, excessive sitting and talking, lifestyle choices and environmental factors.
Functional breathing involves breathing in and out through the nose. The breath is light, regular, effortless with the primary movement from the diaphragm.
Poor breathing, on the other hand, is generally upper chest breathing, often through the mouth. The symptoms most commonly reported by people with poor breathing patterns include the inability to take a satisfying breath, disproportionate breathlessness during rest or physical exercise, frequent yawning or sighing, or the feeling of not getting enough air. Irregular breathing is often a feature of poor breathing patterns. However, breathing patterns in these individuals can also be regular from time to time which makes detection difficult.
The Buteyko Method involves exercises which decongest the nose, and switch mouth you to nasal breathing along with exercises to restore functional breathing patterns. Progress is determined by a special breath hold test called the Control Pause.
The application of the Buteyko Method is very direct and students should experience notable improvements to their breathing and health within a few days. Expected benefits include easier breathing, deeper sleep, more energy, improved digestion, reduced asthma and nasal congestion along with increased feeling of calm.
The exercises are simple and taught to all adults regardless of age or health and all children over five years of age. For children under 5 years of age exercises can be modified to suit the child depending on their age, ability and health concerns.
Breathing patterns have a profound impact on health. Poor breathing patterns literally cause the airways to narrow, and blood circulation and oxygen delivery to be reduced.
To experience the powerful effects of Buteyko breathing, view Patrick McKeown’s Tedx talk.