The Buteyko Method will help with asthma, allergies, hypertension, heart disease, immune deficiency, and cancer.
Buteyko Method, especially for asthma sufferers, is extremely effective. I have integrated many of his ideas and methods into my own work over the years, and I suggest that anyone interested in a drug-free approach to healing asthma look into it.
Buteyko was born in 1923 in Ukraine. He entered the university to study engineering, but World War II changed his plans, and he ended up in the army.
He was a driver and repaired cars and trucks, but he soon realized that he was meant to repair human bodies. He wanted to heal people, so when the war ended he went to medical school. He graduated with high honors, and was assigned to a very prestigious hospital in Moscow.
Buteyko suffered for many years with a severe case of high blood pressure, and despite access to the best drugs and medical treatments, his condition only worsened. He also suffered from what he called chronic heavy breathing, and he attributed it, as the medical profession did, to his condition. But one evening, following what he described as a flash of light, he got the idea that his heavy breathing, rather than being the result of his disease, was actually the cause of it. He began to experiment with shallow breathing and breath holding, and ultimately healed his hypertension.
When I met him and asked him how he would summarize his teachings, he said: “Deep breathing is death!” He said carbon dioxide was a vasodilator, and that deep breathing eliminates too much CO2. This in turn causes vasoconstriction throughout the system, including bronchial vessels, blood
vessels, intestines, and so on, which results in all kinds of medical problems. In fact, he said, asthma is not a disease at all: it is the body’s way of trying to preserve carbon dioxide. He said that people with asthma feel as if they need to breathe more, but in fact, they need to breathe less. And that is the basis of his method.
The Buteyko Method is not only a great self-treatment for asthma, it is very useful training if you are an athlete. Here is what I took away from my meetings with him many years ago:
- Never, ever breathe through your mouth. Do whatever you must to break the habit of mouth breathing.
- Practice very shallow and quiet nose breaths with lots of long pauses.
- A healthy person sitting at rest should be able to tolerate a comfortable pause after a normal exhale, for a minimum of thirty to forty-five seconds.
To test yourself, simply take in a normal inhale and a normal exhale, then close your mouth, pinch your nose, and don’t breathe in. Measure the time
before you have to breathe in again, and practice gradually increasing that time.
- Practice controlled pauses after the exhale, very gradually (over a period of weeks) increasing the length of the pause until you reach a comfortable
pause of forty-five or even sixty seconds.
- If you have to take in a deep breath or two after the pause, you’re cheating. You should be able to resume normal breathing without taking a recovery breath. If you have an urge to take in a deep breath after the hold, then fight the urge and take little breaths slowly until you recover.
- Do mild exercises while breath holding, for example walking with your arms above your head and counting your footsteps—gradually increasing the number of footsteps you can take during the pause.
- The key is to gently and gradually increase your tolerance of the feelings of air hunger and gently control the emotions triggered by them.