- Updated on August 13, 2020
Proofread and Grammarly-Daan-okt-2019
Proofread by Samson Hui Proofreader on July **, 2019
Edited by J diFeliciantonio on February 24, 2020
Module 4-D: Shallow Breathing (Reduced Breathing) Exercises
“Reduced breathing” or “shallow breathing,” as we have discussed in this module course, is the central exercise of the Buteyko Method. It has numerous applications. As explained below, another useful application of Buteyko reduced breathing is the ability to generate body heat.
Have you ever experienced cold feet at night in bed? Perhaps when you’re having trouble falling asleep? If so, try the following.
Lie on your stomach or left side. (Lying on the back can make reduced breathing much more difficult, as this posture promotes increased respiration.) Relax all muscles. Then focus on your breathing for a minute. What do you feel? If the sensations are vague: Take a deep, but slow (as possible) inhalation and relax all breathing muscles so that you slowly exhale. Do you feel the airflow going through your nostrils? Do you have any sensations at the back of your throat? Do you have a sense about the movement of air inside the chest and bronchi? How about near your stomach?
Next, after exploring all these sensations, do not take your usual inhalation. Instead, take a slightly smaller inhalation, only about 5% to 10% less than your typical inhale. Then immediately relax all muscles, especially the upper chest and all other breathing muscles. With each breath, take a small or reduced inhalation, and then completely relax.
You will soon experience light air hunger. The goal is to preserve this light, comfortable level of air hunger for 2 to 3 minutes before you fall asleep.
Your breathing rate (i.e., number of breaths per minute) may become more frequent during this reduced or shallow breathing, but that’s OK. With enough practice as well as healthy lifestyle modifications, your overall breathing will slow, and with it, your breathing rate will reduce.
If you do this exercise correctly, you will notice the following signs:
– The arms and feet will grow warmer in about 2 to 3 minutes, after starting reduced breathing. This is central sign that you are successfully breathing less. (You may have to take off any thick socks you have on in bed!)
– In about the same 2 to 3 mins., the nasal passages will become moist, and, depending on the ambient temperature, the nose may become colder.
– You’ll find it’s much easier to fall asleep. Indeed, many people with insomnia find this breathing technique helpful for improving their sleep.
This same Buteyko Emergency Procedure, or “shallow breathing” technique with or without breath holds (explained in greater detail here), can also be safely applied to address night phobias, spasms of the stomach, spasms of the bile duct, edema, eye puffiness, and many other situations (Buteyko, 1972, 1977).