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Many breathworkers might be most familiar with ancient Pranayama breathwork exercises. However, there are also modern techniques that offer a variety of benefits. One of these is the Buteyko Method.
If you’re wanting to learn more about Buteyko breathing and how it can improve your life, this guide will help you explore everything you need to know in the following sections:
Before we start learning how to do it, let’s answer the question: “what is Buteyko breathing?”
We should also mention that Buteyko is a rather advanced breathwork technique. So if you’re brand new to breathwork, we recommend that you check out our beginner’s guide to breathwork first.
Before you can fully benefit from the technique, you have to be able to answer “what is Buteyko?” This section will cover the basics you need to know about Buteyko breathing.
The Buteyko Method is a breathing technique created in 1952 by Dr. Konstantin Buteyko of Russia. Its goal is to help people develop healthier breathing patterns. It gained popularity in Australia and the UK in the early 1990s, and continues to be used today to treat various respiratory and neurological issues.
Buteyko side effects are possible, though temporary. In general, the practice is relatively safe for healthy individuals. Still, these are some of the most common Buteyko breathing side effects:
So, does Buteyko breathing work? Yes! Exercises belonging to this method prioritize the use of nasal breathing, which helps make better use of the respiratory system. Regular practice will help to achieve noticeable changes for overall wellness over time, including easier breathing and better sleep.
As stated, Buteyko breathing benefits many who practice it regularly. Here are some of the top Buteyko benefits that can be gained:
In general, practicing Buteyko breathing techniques can help to correct your breathing patterns and improve your respiratory health. Given that the exercises tend to prioritize nose breathing, practicing them can help improve your lung function while relaxing your body.
A 2018 study found that young adults who practiced Buteyko immediately saw positive effects in their cardio-respiratory health. These included favorable effects on heart rate, blood pressure, and perceived exertion.
Several people have claimed “Buteyko cured my anxiety” after practicing it regularly. Like all forms of breathwork, using Buteyko for anxiety can be extremely helpful. This is because it promotes relaxation through its use of slow, deep breathing. When practicing the technique during times of stress, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated and calms the body’s stress response. This allows the body to feel safe and the mind to experience a calmer state.
Over the years, many people have practiced Buteyko breathing for asthma. This is because patients with asthma have been able to improve their quality of life after learning and following a Buteyko practice. A study published in 2008 determined that many participants were able to better manage their asthma 6 months after first participating in a controlled trial. This included an increase in breath control and a decrease in corticosteroid use.
Using Buteyko breathwork to improve sleep has also proven effective for many people, as it has been able to help them relax and fall asleep. The Buteyko breathing technique also helps to relieve sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, and other conditions that prevent people from sleeping properly. A study published in 2020 determined that using Buteyko for breathing retraining can reduce instances of sleep apnea, demonstrating the technique’s effectiveness.
It’s also possible to use Buteyko breathing exercises for COPD. Buteyko and COPD appear to have a close connection, as changes in breathing can help to open up obstructed airways. A controlled study published in 2019 found that using Buteyko breathing for COPD was able to improve pulmonary function at a greater rate than the pursed-lip breathing exercise. This shows that Buteyko breathwork is a highly effective treatment for patients with COPD.
Like with stress and anxiety, Buteyko can relieve symptoms of depression with regular practice. A 2018 study determined that controlled breathing exercises are able to help improve mood, which includes reduced symptoms of depression. This is due to the positive psychological effects caused by deep breathing.
Buteyko is one of the most popular forms of breathwork practiced, often being compared to the Wim Hof technique and Pranayama breathing exercises. The table below will help you compare Buteyko vs. Wim Hof and Buteyko breathing vs. Pranayama.
Now that you know what Buteyko is, you’re ready to learn how to do it. Follow the Buteyko steps and tips in this section to begin your practice.
Establishing a regular Buteyko breathwork practice can seem overwhelming at first, but it will all come together over time. Here are some Buteyko breathing steps you can follow at the beginning of your practice:
This technique is best practiced any time before eating, or at least two hours after you’ve eaten. You can also try using it to help you relax any time you’re feeling anxious. Be sure to opt for a place and time that’s quiet and distraction-free and has a comfortable temperature.
Watching a Buteyko breathing exercises video is a great way for beginners to start practicing. If you’d like some help, follow along with our 10-minute guided Buteyko breathing method video for controlled relaxation:
For more guided breathwork sessions like this, check out the Othership app and sign up for a 7-day free trial.
So what are Buteyko breathing exercises? These are techniques that can be used as part of your practice to address various concerns while improving your breathing. These are some Buteyko exercises you can start using today.
The Buteyko nose unblocking technique, also called the Buteyko nose clearing exercise, is used primarily to improve nasal breathing. It’s designed to increase the blood’s carbon dioxide levels, which helps open up the nasal passages. This exercise can show results in as little as 5 minutes, and is approved for use by children and adults.
Buteyko mouth taping is a technique designed to help people adjust to nose breathing instead of mouth breathing. This technique is most often performed at night to help improve sleep, but can also be practiced during the day. It can also treat many conditions that negatively affect sleep.
The Buteyko reduced breathing exercise is a technique you can use to gauge your breathing while also helping yourself relax. The exercise is designed to impact the amount of air that you inhale as a way of resetting your respiratory system. Despite the use of shallow breathing, the exercise tends to result in a relaxed state after practicing it.
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal breathing or sometimes athlete breathing, is considered a Buteyko normal breathing exercise. Although it has been practiced for many years, this form of deep breathing is crucial to many exercises within the Buteyko Method. It’s also incredibly helpful for athletes looking to improve their physical performance.
Those wanting to learn and practice more Buteyko breathing exercises regularly should consider using a breathwork app to help them do so. Here are our recommendations for the best Buteyko breathing apps.
Othership is a breathwork app that offers a wide variety of guided breathwork sessions for connecting with oneself. It contains over 500 classes featuring a wide variety of breathwork techniques, including those belonging to the Buteyko method. This app makes it easy for anyone to improve their well-being while receiving guidance from top breathwork facilitators, as well as connecting with a global community.
Cost: 7-day and 14-day free trials; subscriptions available for $17.99/month or $129.99/year.
The Advanced Buteyko app can help anyone who’s ready to practice advanced Buteyko breathing exercises. It contains 61 different levels to help users build their knowledge and skills. All levels are taught using easy-to-follow spoken instructions by certified instructors.
Cost: Free to start using.
The official app of Buteyko Clinic International, ButeykoClinic is for adults and children looking to start a daily breathing practice. The app uses a video program to help first-timers learn and practice the techniques while feeling relaxed. It includes a few other features as well, like progress tracking and access to official resources.
Insight Timer is a meditation app that helps users address stress, anxiety, and more through daily practice. Its library includes a variety of meditations and other audio, including Buteyko breathing meditations, to help guide users to feel better. The app can be used by people of all experience levels, and features new meditations daily.
Cost: Free to access basic features; subscriptions available for $9.99/month or $59.99/year.
If you want to learn more about the Buteyko breathing method, there are plenty of resources you can explore. Here are some Buteyko breathing books, videos, and courses to get you started.
If you’re now ready to see how powerful Buteyko truly is, explore our class styles offered on the Othership app.