What is the Buteyko Method?

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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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The Buteyko method, also known as the Buteyko Breathing Technique, was developed by the late Dr. Konstantin Buteyko. This method uses shallow breathing to help relieve symptoms of asthma and other problems related to breathing. It is a breathing method which can be practiced by adults and children alike, anytime anywhere, and it usually provides consistent relief from symptoms.

Practitioners of this method primarily review their clients' conditions and then tailor a program to address their specific needs. This breathing method is all physical—there are no technical machines, drugs, vitamins or herbal medications involved in the practice. It generally does not interfere with an individuals daily activities. Clients are also often advised not to change their current medications without consultation from their doctors.

Evaluation of the breathing pattern by measuring carbon dioxide levels in the body is essential in the practice of the Buteyko method. This is usually done by holding one's breath after normal exhalation. The duration is typically measured with a stop watch until a feeling of slight discomfort occurs and prompts the person to resume breathing. According to the Buteyko criteria, people with healthy breathing patterns are generally capable of holding their breath for approximately 40 to 60 seconds without feeling any discomfort. Those who fall under 40 seconds, may have no present problems, but may have increased risks to develop breathing problems later. Those who measure below 20 seconds are usually suffering from breathing problems.


Experts in the Buteyko Breathing Technique usually give a series of lectures to teach individuals with breathing problems how to properly practice the Buteyko method. They incorporate three principle in their teaching exercises: reduced breathing, breathing through the nose or nasal breathing and relaxation.

Breathing reduction exercises are usually learned during the first session. These exercises incorporate control of breathing by consciously reducing the rate of breathing. This is done consistently and repeatedly in order for participants to adopt the technique and use it instinctively. Breath holding after exhalation usually becomes longer and more comfortable as the sessions continue.

Nasal breathing is an important element in the Buteyko method as well. Participants are taught how to breath properly through their noses. Breathing through the nose serves to humidify, warm and clean the air which enters the lungs as well as help the body maintain high carbon dioxide concentrations. With the use of nasal breathing throughout the day, many asthmatics experience less severe asthma symptoms during the night. The relaxation techniques work to help asthmatic patients deal with asthma attacks when they happen.


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