Learning the Buteyko method (Questions and Answers)
How quickly do people progress?
CO2 is the main regulator of breathing (How is our breathing regulated?). It
tells how much one breathes. Here is a simplified picture of breathing
retraining based on CO2 effects. We know that sick people chronically
breathe too heavily. Their breathing center is preset to a low CO2
value. In order to retrain their breathing, they need to gradually
reset their breathing center to higher CO2 levels. Thus, day after day,
week after week and month after month, they gradually readjust their
breathing center to breathing less and less air. Their CP gets higher
and higher. Some days it may drop. However, week after week there is a
general progress, e.g., by 2-4 s or more. For some people, especially
obese, the CP can increase only by about 1 s in a week. Whatever the
rate of the progress, persistence and self-discipline pay back with
easier breathing, higher CP, and better health.
How much time should I practice daily in order to progress with
Usually 1 hour of breathing exercises per day is enough. This time
is divided among 2-4 or several breathing sessions, about 10-30 min
long, depending on your individual plan and breathing exercises as
suggested by your practitioner. If one devotes more time (e.g., 3-5
hours per day), the progress is faster and the results are often
Apart from the breathing sessions, you need to be conscious to other
common sense factors, like keeping your mouth closed, not overeating,
not sleeping on the back, etc. Altogether, you need, at least “one hour
plus”. That means 1 hour of your time for breathing sessions with some
additional common-sense steps and activities of the program. People do
not regret the time spent. Reduced requirements for sleep and other
improvements in quality of life quickly make up for all initial
investments of time and energy.
The Buteyko method is still changing and evolving so that people can
improve their health with minimum efforts and get busy with their
lives. To achieve this goal, breathing teachers share their ideas with
Are there any age requirements?
As soon as people can understand and follow simple instructions,
they can learn the method. According to Russian practice, that relates
even to patients with the initial stages of schizophrenia. Children
from 3 years old and above can also understand the method and its
instructions. However, as a requirement, parents or caretakers of these
children should also practice the method for better results. There are
special methods for younger children (0-2 years) as well.
Is physical exercise that important?
Above I have tried to show that high CPs were human norms centuries
ago. Those people did not practice any special breathing exercises. Why
did they have good breath holding abilities then? Many conditions were
different, but physical exercise was probably the most important
factor. Most people in the past were physically active for many hours
per day. Similarly, if you have normal breathing and 4-5 hours of
physical activity every day, you will be generously rewarded with
excellent health and well-being. And it is not hard to exercise for
them, since people with large CPs enjoy physical activity. Doctor
Buteyko even suggested specific numbers for physical exercise when
people learn the method and when they maintain their normal breathing.
"There is no need to spend 3 hours every day to retrain one’s
breathing. Instead, one should work hard 5 hours per day with
perspiration. This will cure asthma, hypertension, angina pectoris, and
"Therefore, in relation to physical exercise or labor, there is a
minimum standard for each person. If he exercises less, then he will
die gradually. It is similar to a deficiency in vitamins, water, or
food. We need about three hours of hard work every day to perspire.
This will be a standard for man. He is made up of 60% muscles; these
muscles must function. All joints must revolve in their entire
amplitude. This is our intention and instruction."
Russian practical experience shows that having 4-5 hours of daily
exercise is usually enough to preserve normal breathing and a normal
CP. If people cannot exercise and want to have normal breathing, then,
as Russians believe, they need to continue to practice the breathing
exercises on a daily basis.
What are the physiological and psychological causes of importance
of physical activity?
Sick people need physical activity to stimulate the lymphatic
system, fight inflammation, and increase metabolism. There are many
other physiological reasons why we need physical activity. Shaking of
the body (as during jumping or riding in train) intensifies biochemical
processes. The hormonal profile can normalize. Some useful chemicals
can be produced. However, physical exercise is also useful to
counteract the muscular tension due to past psychological traumas, if
the person cannot let them go.
Some people hold the past negative emotions within. They are seeking
revenge and want to get even. They still not at peace with the past
remembering and bringing to others anger, helplessness, guilt,
resentment, alienation and hostility. Their new relationships suffer
due to unresolved past traumas. Such people need more physical activity
and/or breathing exercises in order to eliminate muscular tension and
accumulation of negative energy. Physical activity helps to discharge
the negative energy.
If a person can let those traumas and negative emotions go, then
he/she can go on with the life while having clear minds, cheerful mood
and easy breathing. Practice shows that vibrant health is possible with
little physical activity.
How can I reduce psychological stress?
Note that I am not talking about forgetting about those events. I
also do not mean condoning or excusing the perpetrators. In fact, in
some cases, it could be better for all involved sides to take legal
actions against the perpetrators.
There is no single side that wins from having these negative
emotions (anger, helplessness, guilt, resentment, alienation and
hostility). They generate further alienation, self-destruction and
hostility. Even our new relationships suffer. Many people carry this
heavy burden of the past forever. Our culture particularly encourages
such macho-behavior in males.
There are various methods and techniques that were developed by
humanity in order to deal with this huge and old problem present, to a
certain degree, in every human being. Virtually all sources in this
area are labeled under the title “forgiveness” (or letting it go). If
you are determined to forgive somebody, find books or articles. Some
useful information can be found here:
www.forgivenessweb.com. You can also download for free a good book "Why forgive?".
More radical and fast solution of past traumas is the New Decision
Therapy developed by Kandis Blakely (USA). There are now many NDT
practitioners in various countries who help to forgive others and
To learn the first steps of the Buteyko method for free, visit the
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