There are many reasons to learn Buteyko Breathing exercises. The Buteyko Breathing Method has demonstrated effective results in helping people with asthma, epilepsy, high blood pressure and allergies. I have used Buteyko breathing exercises to address my seizures naturally as well as completely eliminate my symptoms of allergies. I learned the exercises from a practitioner that charged a hefty fee. There are free Buteyko Breathing exercises that you can learn on your own. These exercises will help you to increase your energy level naturally as well as improve your overall health and prevent diseases.
The Buteyko Breathing Method is a way of breathing to ensure the proper gas exhange of CO2 and O2 in the body. When the levels of CO2 or O2 drop significantly, the body’s organs don’t function properly and you will end up with disease or dysfunction. Therefore, optimal breathing should be of utmost importance.
Learn the Control Pause
This is the first thing that you will learn with the Buteyko Breathing Method. The Control Pause (CP) measures how much oxygen is in your blood through a breath holding exercise. The steps to measure the control pause are simple. All you will need is a timer.
- Relax and breathe normally for about 2 minutes prior to starting.
- Exhale normally.
- With a closed mouth, pinch your nose so that you can not inhale or exhale.
- Start timing.
- When you fee the first desire to breathe, unplug your nose, stop timing and take a normal breath.
- Make sure that you don’t hold your breath so long that you are gasping for air.
- Take a break for a minute and repeat the control pause.
The control pause test should be done at least twice a day. This gives you an idea of how much oxygenation your body has. The control pause can indicate your health. People who have lower control pauses are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases. For individuals whose control pause is below 20 seconds, they are usually on medication for a chronic illness. Individuals who have a control pause under 10 seconds often are hospitalized.
Small Breath Holds
The goal of the Buteyko Breathing exercises is to lengthen the time between each breath. During your day, you should practice small breath holds. For this exercise, you will hold your breath until it is slightly uncomfortable. Resume nasal breathing and focus on slowing down your breath. Continue with another small breath hold. The goal is to become more comfortable with a longer pause between breaths. The small breath holds exercise can be done while you are relaxed and sitting at your desk.
- Take a normal inhale.
- Exhale through your nose. Keep your mouth closed.
- Pinch your nose.
- Hold your breath until you feel slightly uncomfortable.
- Inhale through your nose. Make sure that you are not gasping for air.
- Wait ten seconds. Repeat the breath hold with your next breath.
- Pay attention to your posture. Make sure that you are breathing with your diaphragm. (Your belly should move out when you breathe instead of your chest.)
The small breath holds exercise is meant to be done multiple times throughout the day. Your goal is to retrain your breathing. It is not helpful to breathe calmly and slowly for only the first half hour of the day. As you sleep at night and after eating, your CP will increase. Overheating and overeating can cause an increase in breathing. Therefore, you need to retrain your breathing to be slower and less in different situations throughout the day.
The STEPS Buteyko Breathing Exercise
This exercise is probably the best exercise for children. It can help them to learn Buteyko Breathing easily. For this exercise, there is no need to measure the time or use a timer. You will be focusing on plugging your nose and holding your breath while you are walking.
- Inhale through your nose and exhale normally.
- Plug your nose.
- Start walking and count your steps.
- When you feel the urge to breathe, exhale normally.
- Wait a minute or two and repeat the exercise.
This is a great way to practice your Buteyko Breathing while you are on the go. You can do the steps exercise when you are walking to and from your office, going out to lunch, or even just running errands and doing chores. The steps exercise is the easiest and best for children as they are able to count their steps.
The number of steps that you can do while you hold your breath will correlate to your body oxygen levels as well. Often the number of steps is about twice as many as your control pause. For example, someone who has a 40-second control pause, should be able to do 80 steps without stress.
When I started doing the steps exercise, I had very low numbers. I focused on getting comfortable with 20 steps and then doing 20 steps over and over until it was comfortable. The steps exercise was the most effective exercise in helping me to raise my control pause.
I walked my dog every day and measured my control pause. Over the course of about a month, I was able to go from 20 steps to 70 steps. At first, it may seem like you aren’t making progress, but as you practice, you will improve. Don’t give up!
Exercise with Nasal Breathing
As you raise your CP, you will notice that you have more energy. You will naturally feel more inclined to exercise. When your control pause gets to about 40 seconds, you will enjoy exercise and even crave it to some degree. If you are breathing correctly, your exercise will be energizing. You will walk away from workouts with more concentration, focus and energy than you had before you started.
At lower CP levels, it will be almost impossible to exercise with nasal breathing. When your CP is about 20 seconds, you can comfortably walk with nasal, diaphragmatic breathing. At a 30 second CP, jogging with nasal breathing becomes comfortable.
The Buteyko Breathing Method is a way of life. It has many aspects and components to it. If you are struggling with a health condition, such as epilepsy and asthma, you may feel more comfortable going to a Buteyko practitioner to learn the method. However, if you are simply interested in increasing your energy levels and improving your overall health, these simple exercises can get you started in retraining your breathing. Stick with them for about a month and you’ll be amazed how your health improves.