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What is Buteyko Breathing?

The Buteyko breathing method is a strategy to retrain dysfunctional breathing based on the postulation that many disorders can result from an abnormal breathing pattern. To be more specific, disorders such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep apnoea, panic disorders, etc. are the body compensating for 'hyperventilation' or in simple terms; over-breathing.

Professor Konstantin Buteyko, a Russian physician, developed a programme of breathing exercises and lifestyle guidelines in the 1950s that came to be known as the Buteyko Method. He proposed that hyperventilation is the primary cause of these disorders and  his programme is based on recognition and normalisation of dysfunctional breathing. The programme aims to normalise all aspects of the breathing pattern, including rate, rhythm and minute volume, and includes guidelines for correct diaphragmatic breathing and learning to breathe through the nose.

KP Buteyko and Glenn White

Professor K P Buteyko and
Glenn White, Manchester, UK 2001

Buteyko theory is based on the understanding that over-breathing disturbs the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our lungs.

Read more about the scientific principles here »

KP Buteyko postulated that asthma is the body’s way of attempting to reduce the airflow passing through the lungs in order to reduce carbon dioxide loss.

According to KP Buteyko, dysfunctional breathing is implicated in many different chronic diseases. Through research and clinical practice, he found that symptoms reduced as breathing is normalised.

Though most people may think of it as a poison, carbon dioxide may, in fact, be the “breath of life”.

The Buteyko Institute Method of breathing retraining: what you should expect

A minimum of five sessions (60 – 90 minutes) within a ten-day period, this may include four initial consecutive sessions of 60 – 90 minutes and two follow-up sessions within six weeks of the commencement of the programme.

  • Instruction in breathing pattern modification, focusing on slow, regular, nasal, abdominal breathing and reduced ventilation, with clients instructed to practise exercises at home and when symptomatic.
  • Instruction on breathing for a range of activities: at home, at work, at the computer, during strenuous activities and sport.
  • Instruction on breathing when public speaking.
  • Dietary guidelines.
  • Postural advice: through a range of activities as well as sitting and sleeping positions.

The programme does not use drugs, supplements, dental devices or sleep appliances.

The Buteyko Institute Method (BIM) is taught by a certified BIM instructor and cannot be learned by self-instruction kits (video, DVD, books).

The BIM is an educational programme and does not constitute medical treatment. Any changes to prescription medication or sleep aids should first be discussed with your prescribing health practitioner.

About Professor K P Buteyko

Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko was born into the small farming community of Ivanitsa (about 150km from Kiev) on January 27, 1923. In 1946, he enrolled into the First Medical Institute in Moscow to train as a medical doctor. In 1953, KP Buteyko was given a practical assignment which involved monitoring patients' breathing, and spent hundreds of hours recording their breathing.

During this time, KP Buteyko discovered that incorrect breathing caused a range of health problems. Thereafter, most of his professional life was devoted to researching and refining the breathing method which has helped thousands of people throughout the world to overcome a wide range of breathing-related disorders.

By the early 1980s the Russian authorities were sufficiently impressed with Buteyko’s results to allow him a formal trial, or ‘approbation’ with asthmatic children in a Moscow hospital. Although very different in design from the standard controlled trial now predominant in the West, the results were sufficiently impressive to persuade the State Medical System to approve the method for widespread use.

In 1990, Alexander Stalmatski, a Buteyko Practitioner and former student of KP Buteyko, brought the Buteyko method to Australia and began training practitioners. The first blinded, controlled trial of Buteyko was carried out in 1994. The Buteyko Institute of Breathing and Health and its practitioners continue this work. Many thousands of people worldwide have benefited from the life-changing programme which KP Buteyko developed.

Professor Buteyko died in Moscow, Russia on May 2, 2003, aged 80.

"The essence of my method is in decreasing the depth of breathing."
Professor K P Buteyko

Helping people with breathing disorders since 2001

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