Who Was Buteyko?
Dr Konstantin Buteyko was a Russian Medical Doctor whose paper “From Incurable Diseases to Super Endurance of Yogis” shook up the scientific community in 1969 when he presented it at ………… Interestingly to us Yogis / Yogini’s, he mentions Yoga more than 20 times in this paper and was a great advocate of the art.
In the 1950s, he identified over 150 disorders which could be resolved by normalising the breathing, and spent the next three decades developing breathiing exercises and strategies to achieve this. His research won a high amount of funding by those who wanted him to work on the Soviet Spaceship Missions in order to increase the efficiency of the space men and women under zero gravity conditions
What is a Controlled Pause?
If you hold your breath between the exhalation and inhalation, this is a controlled Pause between breath. Buteyko found that increasing the controlled pause helped his Asthma patients. If their CP was 10 seconds long (10CP), they would be on medications and struggling to get enough oxygen to the tissues. Their asthma would be severely affecting their lives on a daily basis. Increasing the CP to only 20 and these patience were symptom and medication free! It was a very powerful finding indeed.
To find out what your controlled pause measurement is, test yourself first thing in the morning.
- Relax for 5 minutes to allow your breathing to become settled
- Inhale, without gulping air in, in a normal way, then hold your nose. Set your timer on your phone/stopwatch
- Hold your nose and breath for as long as you can and stop the watch/phone at the first sign of air hunger
- Now leg go of your nose and resume a normal quiet breath (no gasping, gulping, mouth breathing or fast breathing and no feeling of stress – all of these are a sign that you held your breath for too long).
- Whatever the timer shows is your CP Reading.
His recommendation for optimal health is that we train ourselves to increase the CP beyond 50 seconds. He considers that a low CP is 12 – 15 seconds and that a normal CP should be 40 seconds. My own experience is that it is very easy to get stuck at around 20 seconds and give up the practice but perseverance pays off and daily practice will increase your CP in the end. Here is Patrick McKeown talking about how to achieve a higher controlled pause. He is very active at promoting Buteyko Breathing Techniques because his own asthma was helped to the point where he no longer experiences any symptoms and is medication free:
The reason why Buteyko mentions Classical Yoga so much is that thousands of years previous to his research, he found that famous early Yogi’s could hold their breath and achieve amazing benefits and feats of physical prowess. They were also very rarely ill. The breath hold was the foundation of their practice.
Another ancient practice was cleansing the nasal passages to prevent blockage creating a short controlled pause due to unwanted material blocking the nose. This is very useful to do before you come to Yoga class / practice, especially if you know that Nadi Shadona will be in the practice that day!
Today we teach the ancient practice of Nadi Shadona which is often incorrectly taught with a focus on nostril exchange when in fact, it was designed to increase the controlled pause. Here I am teaching it during lockdown as a gift to the world to help prevent Covid Infection:
Teaching Children to Breath Correctly
Here is Patrick McKeown talking about how mouth breathing changes the shape of the developing child’s face. If you have grandchildren, you can teach them very early on to breath as above (through the nose and less) and through the nose to prevent their facial features setting into something that will affect their health for the rest of their lives: