Buteyko Breathing Technique

Our programs are based on principles of the Buteyko Breathing Technique, and a lot more based on our experience of how to effectively teach modern Western people who tend to lead overstimulated lives.  Breathing educator Lisa Bowen is a member of the Buteyko Breathing Educators Association.

The technique is widely known and practiced in Russia, home of the late Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, breathing researcher for 50 years before his death in 2003.  It came to English-speaking countries in the early 1990s when an Australian businessman had angina during a trip to Moscow and the hospital staff taught him these breathing techniques as a routine matter before he was discharged. He subsequently invited two Buteyko teachers to Australia to teach others, and the techniques have slowly been disseminating to Western Europe and North America ever since.

In general, we have moved away from teaching "orthodox Buteyko" in most classes to beginning students.  Were Dr. Buteyko still alive and living in the digital, individualistic West perhaps he would have modified his program as well, we believe.  We are incorporating physical and mental relaxation skills into our program and enlisting more motivational elements to keep students' attention on their breathing.  

Buteyko Breathing Technique Addresses Over-Breathing

The Buteyko Breathing Technique is just one of our resources, but it is a powerful one that many people seek out.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, publisher of the biggest natural-health blog, endorsed Buteyko Breathing in 2013 and practices it himself.

The underlying condition that the Buteyko Breathing Technique addresses is, simply put, over-breathing.  The premise of the Buteyko Breathing Technique is that over-breathing is the cause of many illnesses in which the sufferers feel they can't catch their breath and get enough air!  

According to the late Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, founder of this breathing-retraining technique, constricting the bronchial airways (asthma) or nasal passageways (allergies) are just two of the most obvious ways the body tries to slow down the breathing to meet only the demands of metabolism and no more.  

Buteyko educators believe that people may start over-breathing for many reasons:

  • It can start physically.  When you get a really bad cold and your nose stuffs up, if you breathe through your mouth long enough it may become a habit from that point forward. You take in a lot more air through your mouth than your nose, and after some time you're hyperventilating without even knowing it.  Retired athletes who could get away with mouth-breathing when they were exercising a lot,may suffer breathing-related disorders after they quit their sports.
  • It can start emotionally. Hyperventilation is a natural response to stress -- any stress -- from work, family, and money woes to relationship problems and trauma.
  • It can simply start because our modern lifestyle requires a lot of frantic mental activity without enough physical outlets.  Many times each day most people do something very stimulating that increases our breathing even though we're just sitting -- such as playing fast-paced video games, watching movie thrillers or high-stakes sporting events on TV, or just driving bumper-to-bumper in rush-hour traffic.

While we can't provide any guarantees, what we have observed is that the success of someone's experience with breathing retraining, and the Buteyko Breathing Technique in particular, is based in large part on how much that person can learn to relax his or her body and breath. Stress and relationship to time are huge issues in our society and the growth of chronic illness. 

For further information, check out the other pages in this section on HistoryPrinciples of Buteyko, and Scientific Background.

So what is over-breathing?

If you were told you that you were overeating, you would understand what that means. Likewise, over-breathing means breathing a volume of air greater than that which we require. You might say that you don’t do it; but most people have no awareness of this subtle, hidden over-breathing. 

Listed below are a number of characteristics that are typical of poor breathers. How many apply to you?

  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Noisy breathing at rest
  • Frequent sighing
  • Frequent sniffing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Holding of breath
  • Forgetting to breathe
  • Taking large breaths prior to talking
  • Frequent yawning
  • Upper chest movement
  • Raised shoulders of visible movement
  • Effortful breathing
  • Heavy breathing at night

--from the Buteyko Breathing Educators Association