What Is the Buteyko Breathing Technique?

A Ukrainian doctor, Konstantin Buteyko, created the Buteyko breathing technique (BBT) in the 1950s. This therapeutic breathing method uses breath retention exercises to control the speed and volume of your breath. This helps you to learn to breathe more slowly, calmly, and effectively.

The benefits of Buteyko breathing include enhanced breath control, which helps to prevent breathlessness and promote proper breathing patterns. It’s used to manage and improve a variety of conditions, including asthma, anxiety, and sleep concerns.


Buteyko breathing has several benefits that relate to its ability to improve breath awareness, encourage nostril breathing, and limit overbreathing.

By practicing the technique you’ll learn to breathe properly and efficiently, which can help prevent issues such as wheezing, coughing, and feeling short of breath. It can also help to alleviate unnecessary coughing and clear blocked nasal passages.

Regulates breathing

Buteyko breathing is ideal for people who may breathe too much or hyperventilate, which is common in people with conditions such as asthma and anxiety.

It’s also helpful for people who find it challenging to breathe while doing strenuous activities. Additionally, Buteyko breathing can help alleviate stress and improve athletic performance, as well as improve sleep quality by promoting deep sleep, reducing snoring, and relieving sleep apnea.

Helps with asthma and anxiety

Buteyko breathing is often used to treat and manage asthma since it helps to prevent overbreathing, which can be connected to the condition. Hyperventilation can lead to hypocapnia, which leads to low carbon dioxide levels.

Practicing BBT can help you learn to stabilize your breathing patterns by lowering your tidal volume and respiratory rate. It also helps to balance carbon dioxide levels and reduce anxiety. Several older studies point to the effectiveness of Buteyko breathing in improving asthma symptoms. 

How to do it

Buteyko breathing teaches you to breathe more gently and less rapidly. You’ll learn to breathe slower and deeper, which balances your breathing rhythms.

It involves exercises that teach you to hold your breath and refrain from breathing. It’s said that over time the breathing technique will become a natural part of your daily life.


  1. Sit on the floor or on a chair.
  2. Elongate your spine to maintain an upright posture.
  3. Relax your respiration muscles.
  4. Breathe normally for a few minutes.

The Control Pause

  1. After a relaxed exhale, hold your breath.
  2. Use your index finger and thumb to plug your nose.
  3. Retain your breath until you feel the urge to breathe, which may include an involuntary movement of your diaphragm, and then inhale.
  4. Breathe normally for at least 10 seconds.
  5. Repeat several times.

The Maximum Pause

  1. After a relaxed exhale, hold your breath.
  2. Use your index finger and thumb to plug your nose.
  3. Retain your breath for as long as possible, which is usually twice the length of time of the Control Pause.
  4. Once you’ve reached the point of moderate discomfort, inhale.
  5. Breathe normally for at least 10 seconds.
  6. Repeat several times.

Tips for beginners

  • When practicing Buteyko breathing, always breathe in and out through your nose.
  • If at any time you experience anxiety, shortness of breath, or intense discomfort, discontinue the practice and breathe normally.
  • As you progress, you may be able to hold your breath for longer periods. Over time, you may be able to hold the Control Pause for 1 minute and the Maximum Pause for 2 minutes.


While Buteyko breathing has many benefits, it may not be suitable for everyone and it’s not a substitute for your doctor’s treatment plan. Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning breathing exercises.

Avoid BBT if you have any of the following:

  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • epilepsy
  • a serious medical concern



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