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Buteyko Breathing Technique Addresses Over-Breathing

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 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 can 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 Buteyko Breathing 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. 

There's a self-test below you can take to investigate whether you have symptoms of over-breathing, also known as chronic hyperventilation.

Hyperventilation Self Test.pdf Hyperventilation Self Test.pdf
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How Do I Learn The Buteyko Breathing Technique?

What Happens At A Class?

The Buteyko Breathing Technique course teaches:

  • the scientific principles behind why Buteyko Breathing has been shown to be effective, and
  • exercises to practice that are designed to improve your overall health and breathing capacity plus others for acute situations when you're getting sick or exposed to triggers that worsen your breathing. 

Dr. Buteyko discovered a way to measure your respiratory health with some fixed benchmarks to reach, just like healthy blood-pressure and weight ranges.  So when you start, we advise you to assess your breathing state and incorporate the exercises you will learn into your daily routine several times a day until you reset your respiratory center to a healthy level. When you attain that level, you can taper off.

Just like the natural urge to lay off rich foods after holiday overeating, once your body remembers the comfortable experience of easy breathing, you'll have the opportunity to learn to tell when something's off and you need to focus on restoring your breathing again.

Dr Buteyko said experiencing symptoms is an indication that your breathing is not controlled enough to handle your triggers such as animal dander, dust, pollen or pollution.  If the breathing is healthy enough, you will not respond to your triggers, according to Dr. Buteyko.

Buteyko classes are taught in several different formats.

There's daily homework that requires a stopwatch. You may already have one (or use the function on your phone). We'll also have them for sale at the class.

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

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