Buteyko Breathing: Technique, Steps and Health Benefits

Buteyko breathing is a technique of breathing described by an Ukranian doctor named Konstantin Buteyko. It is a complimentary physical therapy which advocates the use of certain breathing pattern for treating various conditions of lung such as asthma, hyperventilation, emphysema etc. Although the theory underlying this method is not widely accepted by medical fraternity, this breathing technique has received worldwide exposure. Buteyko breathing is based on assumption that host of pulmonary problems such as asthma etc are caused by chronic hyperventilation or increase in respiratory rate.

It is known scientifically that increased rate and volume of breathing can cause low saturation of carbon dioxide (CO2) in blood which results in imbalance of acid-base balance in the body.

It also leads to low tissue oxygen saturation. Insufficient level of CO2 in lungs can lead to bronchospasm. Buteyko breathing helps patients to normalize the level of CO2 in the lungs. This leads to relaxation of the bronchioles and the tiny alveoli in the lungs open up and hence a person suffering from asthma is able to breathe without much strain. A person inhales less amount of air and the symptoms gradually start reducing. This relaxed form of breathing is helpful in people suffering from lung and other conditions. Proponents of Buteyko breathing call this technique as retraining the breathing pattern.

Buteyko Breathing Technique:

The technique of Buteyko breathing may slightly vary from one teacher to another, the basic concept of normalizing breathing pattern remains the same. There are three core steps of buteyko breathing technique. They are nasal breathing, reduced breathing, and relaxation. Let us know one by one in detail.

Nasal breathing: Buteyko always emphasized breathing through nose. When you breathe through nose, the air entering the nose gets humidified, warm and clear of all dust and germs. It becomes more pure when it enters into the lungs. The inhaled air also humidifies the air passage. Many patients suffering from respiratory disease have problem when they sleep at night. Buteyko teachers believe the problem arises because of poor sleeping posture and mouth breathing. When you consciously start breathing through clean nose during daytime, there is significant improvement in the night symptoms. Your body automatically adjusts to nasal breathing. Buteyko also suggests breathing strictly through nose during exercise.

Reduced breathing: Reduction in breathing rate and breathing volume are at core of Buteyko breathing technique. Many teachers call it as retraining breathing pattern. In this step the person has to breathe shallow and slowly to a point where he feels that he is not breathing at all. He has to hold the breath for few seconds comfortably. This control and pause mechanism improves nitric oxide and carbon dioxide level in body. Buteyko breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system that will benefit in lowering blood pressure, heart rate, stress etc.

Relaxation: Dealing with asthma is one of the main aims for practicing Buteyko breathing. In an asthma attack person breathes rapidly. By controlling initial over breathing a person suffering from asthma can prevent the repetitive vicious cycle of hyperventilation and thus may prevent accentuation of the asthma attack. When relaxation is followed properly, even asthma attack can be completely prevented according to Buteyko breathing proponents.

Benefits of Buteyko Breathing:

Buteyko breathing technique is harmless and without any cost. The only thing a person has to do is to follow the way he is breathing. It is a non invasive method free from side effects. Only in the beginning the technique has to be learnt from an experienced teacher who is trained in Buteyko breathing. There are several health benefits proposed by preachers of Buteyko breathing. However, as mentioned earlier, there is no concrete evidence which usually medical fraternity always relies on. Proponents of this therapy believe it helps in many ways. Here are some of the important benefits.

  • Strengthens the respiratory system.
  • It is beneficial for people suffering from asthma and chronic lung diseases such as emphysema.
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduces mental as well as physical stress.
  • Metabolism improves.
  • Improves hormonal production.
  • Asthmatics have to use less corticosteroid as their attacks diminish and become mild.
  • Lowers blood pressure in hypertensive.
  • Improves overall nervous system.

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