- Updated on August 3, 2019
By Dr. Artour Rakhimov, Alternative Health Educator and Author
Adopted from 2014 article by Dr. Artour Rakhimov in BBEA newsletter
During previous years, I described this challenge on forums for Buteyko practitioners and suggested the methods to deal with it. Here is the challenge:
Most Buteyko students who take regular group (or individual) courses from Buteyko practitioners generally have easier breathing and better results for the body-oxygen test in 1-3 months. Most students have much less or no medication, and symptoms of chronic diseases (ranging from asthma and COPD to cancer and heart disease) can be gone.
However, in about 1-3 years and later, breathing students still experience benefits with fewer symptoms and medication, but their long-term results are not as good as in 1-3 months. For example, it is common for many people with asthma to start with about 10 s morning CP (around 15 s CP during the day) and achieve up to 30 s for the morning CP in 1-3 months. But during following months, their morning CP can be only about 20-25 s. This still allows great reduction or total elimination of medication and symptoms, but why does this take place? Can the final outcomes be improved?
Why body oxygen decreases and students get heavier breathing
It was observed and described decades ago by Soviet Buteyko doctors that, with less than 40 s for the morning CP, the CP has a tendency to decrease; while those students who achieved over 60 s CP can maintain or even increase their CPs later.
Generally, less than 40 s morning CP is the “struggle” zone, where a person needs to earn his or her health while restricting, controlling and monitoring sleep, diet, exercise, posture, and other parameters. Exercise, with over 30 s morning CP, is generally very easy, but still requires some motivation or even external support. For this CP zone, the morning CP, as Soviet doctors observed, has a tendency to gradually decrease.
With over 60 s morning CP, exercise is nearly always effortless and pleasant. Buteyko students feel abnormal without exercise and naturally crave it. When the morning CP is so high, it is generally easy to maintain it. In many cases, the morning CP can even further increase. However, since less than 5% of all students ever get 60 s morning CP, such students are very rare.
Lifestyle changes for long-term success
While breathing and the CP are governed by dozens of factors, there are these main physiological parameters to consider:
– Breathing exercises
– Physical activity
– Stress level (are you a victim of your past or a creator of your future?).
Note that other factors (such as Grounding, posture, etc.) still play a role, but the above ones are most essential.
Breathing exercises and physical activity
These 2 factors require main time investments during breathing retraining. What about doing this work later? If we analyze daily logs of students or ask them about their typical daily breathing exercises and physical activity, beyond the initial 3-6 months, we can discover that very few students continue to practice daily breathing exercises, while their physical activity level is at less than 1 hour per day. Some students may say that they go to a gym 2-4 times per week, but this is generally, or for an average person, not enough to maintain even 30+ s morning CP. Why do people stop breathing exercises and do not increase physical activity?
Most Buteyko students live in the ordinary world with its own rules and expectations. Therefore, they quickly adopt or re-adopt, after completing the Buteyko course, those values and behaviors that are common for most people around them. Doing intensive daily exercise is not a part of the expected modern “healthy lifestyle”.
If some physical activity is currently supported by official sources (but without strictly nasal breathing), then doing breathing exercises is not among 10-20 most popular activities for health improvement.
Therefore, it is normal that most people do not get involved or do not continue to have the same amounts of breathing and physical exercises.
How to solve these challenges with breathing and physical exercise
Since physical exercise is the key factor of good health (I am not so sure about this now, in June 2016), it is crucial to target Buteyko students to do more exercise and labor right from the very start. For example, a Buteyko teacher can explain and emphasize the importance of exercise and its leading role in health during the introductory lecture. When discussing changes in minute ventilation of ordinary people during last 100 years, it is a common question from the audience about the causes of easy breathing 80-100 years ago.
This is a great time to introduce the leading role of exercise mentioning that the word “mouth breather”, according to old dictionaries, was a synonym to “moron, imbecile, stupid person” (during sleep and exercise too).
While many Buteyko educators explain, during the introductory lecture, that taking a Buteyko breathing course implies 1 hour of daily breathing exercises (as a prerequisite requirement for taking the course), it is a good time to describe another requirement: 1 hour of devoted physical exercise that is done in addition to walking here and there.
During the first or second lesson of the course, breathing students need to know that Buteyko breathing exercises were invented for those patients who could not do physical exercise. These were usually people with less than 10 s CP. Generally, with over 10-12 s for the current CP, students need to start walking. When the daily CP gets up to 20 s or more, most students can start running and more intensive forms of exercise with strictly nasal breathing (in and out). This is the health zone (in the Buteyko Table of Health Zones) where physical activity becomes more effective and more important than breathing exercises.
It is useful to explain, at the end of the course, those ideas that are mentioned above: how and why exercise plays the key role in the long-term success of Buteyko breathing students. In other words, students should have a clear picture related to effects of exercise on their health.
In addition, suggesting and conducting follow-ups after several months are factors that will encourage students to do more exercise, as a part of their commitment to breathing retraining and better health.
In addition, the likely key factor that will either encourage or reduce the motivation of students for more exercise relates to the personal lifestyle of the breathing educator. While breathing teachers can try to emphasize and explain all details related to exercise and its effect on breathing, there are some hidden factors (or spirit) in communication that also influences choices made by students. Therefore, those breathing educators who personally have more exercise each day will be able to better motivate their students to do the same. If a breathing teacher is not involved insufficient levels of daily physical activity, then it is more difficult to create motivation to exercise in their students.
Diet, sleep and stress levels
Here a student needs again to review if he or she paid good attention to these factors.
Long-term effects of diet: consider a diet that produces least inflammatory and other types of damage to cells and tissues since calories are not created the same: fats and carbohydrates have different effects. For details, learn and apply ideas from this diet review.
Sleep reduces the CP. In order to cause least effects on breathing, sleeping can be done in a sitting position.
High-stress level and traumatic past experiences can make a person stuck in the past in terms of his or her emotions and behavior. From a creator of their future, the person becomes a victim of his or her past. Learn about methods and healing techniques that promote the following emotional states: kindness, gratitude, humility, compassion, love, appreciation, invincibility, and being in love with life.