Buteyko breathing, (pronounced Bu-tay-ko), also known as the Buteyko Breathing Technique is a method that uses exercises to treat asthma and other breathing-related health conditions. It’s basically a way to help people regain functional breathing patterns.
Natural, functional breathing makes a huge difference to our overall health
It’s a technique that I use extensively in my practice, so I know it works well for a number of the conditions and symptoms I treat.
Who Invented Buteyko Breathing?
A Ukrainian doctor named Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko developed this interesting approach to breathing during the 1950s.
What Can Buteyko Breathing Help To Treat?
According to Patrick McKeown’s Buteyko Clinic.com website, Buteyko Breathing can be an effective approach to help address and treat:
- Respiratory: asthma, rhinitis, hayfever
- Neurological: Anxiety, stress and panic attacks
- Childhood development: dental health, craniofacial development and ADHD
- Sleep disordered breathing: insomnia, snoring, central sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea
The last two points explain why the Buteyko Breathing Technique is such a prominent feature in my practice. Most of my patients have airway-related conditions and symptoms. Mouth breathing is a very common habit I have to address. In many cases, the reason someone breathes through their mouth is that they’re physically unable to breathe through their nose.
This is where Buteyko techniques are so helpful. These techniques allow my patients to clear their nasal congestion if that’s a factor causing or contributing to their mouth breathing.
The techniques are also excellent to help retrain breathing patterns. Most of us don’t breathe as well as we think we do. This is especially true for people with oral myofunctional disorders. I really like this quote from Patrick McKeown’s website:
“Since breathing is a natural process and so vital to life, it begs the question: why do we all breathe so differently?
The answer to this is that our breathing habits are greatly influenced by lifestyle, environment and genetic predisposition. The best way to understand how breathing patterns can be altered over time is to think of a person who has developed a habit of eating too much. In times of stress, this person may turn to emotional eating, using food as a crutch to help them relax. But if they continue eating in this way over a period of weeks or months, their body soon adapts to habitual over-eating and begins to demand more food than they need.
Similarly, sitting at a desk, watching TV and playing video games, eating processed foods, excessive talking along with stress and anxiety are all factors influencing breathing. When the body is exposed to these perpetuating factors for extended periods of time, the body becomes accustomed to a larger volume of breathing, along with all its negative manifestations.”
Buteyko Breathing And Myofunctional Therapy
The Buteyko exercises are a simple way for me to help change any dysfunctional breathing patterns and establish a normal, nasal breathing pattern. This is so beneficial for overall health including stress management and the delivery of nasal nitric oxide, which is a critical cellular signalling molecule.
I also use a wide range of other myofunctional therapy exercises designed to restore muscular function and strength, but I love having access to the Buteyko exercises.
I’ve been lucky enough to learn the Buteyko method from Patrick McKeown. Patrick is one of the most knowledgeable practitioners and trainers I’ve met. His websites and books are a treasure trove of great information, and I highly recommend that you take a look at them if you’re interested in improving your breathing, or even boosting your athletic performance.
https://buteykoclinic.com is the site aimed at clinical Buteyko Breathing techniques.
http://oxygenadvantage.com is his site (and an excellent book) aimed at helping athletes to get better results from their training and in their competing.
An Example Of A Buyeyko Breathing Technique
This video is the most popular video on my YouTube channel. It’s an early video on my part, so I’m not too proud of the quality. On the other hand, it seems to have helped a lot of people. It’s a good example of a simple but very effective Buteyko technique:
Patrick McKeown’s TEDx talk is also worth watching. It’s a great introduction to the Buteyko approach to functional breathing: