earning Buteyko Shallow Breathing Exercise (or Reduced Breathing) with light air hunger

Now you are able to consciously create and maintain light air hunger while breathing using the diaphragm (or stomach) and relax it for exhalations. Let us review the process of the RB (reduced breathing) in more detail.
If your CP is below 20 s, follow these instructions

Instead of taking big and deep inhalation, take a slightly smaller inhalation (only about 5-10% less than your usual inhalation) using the diaphragm and then immediately relax all muscles, especially all breathing muscles. Then immediately, take another (smaller) inhalation and again completely relax.

Buteyko Shallow Breathing (or Reduced Breathing) with light air hunger

This picture shows the pattern of RB (reduced breathing) for low CPs (less than 20 s).

In 2-3 minutes you will experience light air hunger (or light desire to breathe more). Your goal is to preserve this light comfortable level of air hunger for about 5 minutes.

It is normal that breathing is frequent during your reduced or shallow breathing. The crucial thing is that you breathe less, your inhalations are less deep, and you are relaxed.
If your CP is 20 s or more, follow these instructions

If one’s CP is above 20 s, then the pattern of RB (reduced breathing) is usually different. Why? Because usual breathing, while resting or sleeping, is also different. For example, if the actual CP is about 30 s, the student is likely to have short automatic pauses (about 1 s) or total relaxation (no breathing) after exhalations. These automatic pauses are individual and also depend on the actual personal CP. The higher the CP, the longer the automatic pause. (It is easy to compare presence and different durations of automatic pauses on the diagram that has all 4 types of regular breathing patterns together.) Presence of longer automatic pauses is a sign of better health.

While practising the RB, the students with higher CPs (over 20 s) not only slightly reduce their inhalations and, in addition, they can have short periods of total relaxation with no breathing.
 Buteyko Reduced Breathing Exercise when the CP is about 25 s

This figure shows reduced breathing when the CP is about 25 s: first, inhalations are smaller than the original ones (black line); second, the durations of exhalations and pauses of total relaxation are longer. Hence, you breathe slightly less air and also slightly slower.
What should you do during the reduced breathing

The RB should cause light shortage of air (air hunger) in about 2-3 minutes. It requires some experimentation from the student to find out the depth of inhalations and durations of automatic pauses (no breathing).

For example, with about 20 s CP, one’s RB probably does not require any pauses. Each subsequent inhalations immediately follow the previous exhalation, as described in the previous section.

If your CP is about 30 s, you can take a smaller inhale, relax for the exhalation and can enjoy total relaxation for about 2-3 seconds (no breathing movements). Then this cycle is repeated again and again, until the student gets slight air hunger. Once the right pattern is found (so that you can maintain light air hunger for 5-10 minutes or more), do mental counting (e.g., “one, two, three”) for automatic pauses after each exhalation. The structure of your breathing can be presented in words:
“Inhale – Relax all muscles – One, two, three (total rest) –
Inhale – Relax all muscles – One, two, three (total rest) –
Inhale – Relax all muscles – One, two, three (total rest) –
Inhale – Relax all muscles – One, two, three (total rest) – …”

When the CP gets larger, the durations of automatic pauses at rest and during this exercise are also increased. For example, with 40 s CP, the student can usually have about 5-6 s automatic pauses after each exhalation during the whole RB period, with 60 s CP about 10 s for total relaxation. Mental counting is useful, but not necessary.
Your next step (for any CP): practice the RB for about 5 minutes

When you practice the RB for 1-2 minutes, you should get a light feeling of air hunger (you want to breathe more but resist the desire and teach own body to have lighter breathing). The key of the exercise is to maintain this shallow diaphragmatic breathing pattern for about 5 minutes with relaxation of all muscles and light hunger for air.

Another practical suggestion, which was emphasized by Dr. Buteyko, is that under no circumstances is it allowed to have large deep inhalations or quick exhalations during the RB. Breathing, especially exhalations, should be under full control and totally relaxed. You do nothing for exhalation, just relax all body muscles.

Every time you get a desire to take a deep breath by chest expansion, calmly and consistently relax all muscles, especially chest-shoulders-neck-jaw muscles and continue to breathe less.

The level of air hunger during the RB session should be light and comfortable, no more than at the end of the CP, (it is felt, but comfortable enough and easy to tolerate). During the first breathing sessions this sensation of air hunger is unusual and, for some people, can be unpleasant. Meanwhile, after realizing the relaxing and inspiring effects of first sessions, these unpleasant effects later disappear.
If you breathe too little

Occasionally, a student is so motivated to breathe less that they start to breathe too little, e.g., 2 or 3 times less than before the RB. This may be possible for about 2-3 minutes only. But the body needs to adjust to any level of breathing. Hence, later the degree of biochemical stress for the body can be so high, that it will be impossible to suppress very deep and heavy gasps for air. Hence, again, keep level of air hunger light and comfortable.
How Dr. Buteyko described the essence of the RB

The manual written by Dr. Buteyko (Buteyko, 1991), in order to remember the essence of the Buteyko method (shallow or reduced breathing), suggests to use the rule of "The left hand". “This rule contains 5 points (5 fingers, starting from the thumb):
1. decrease
2. the depth
3. of breathing
4. by relaxation of the diaphragm
5. till the sense of air shortage” (Buteyko, 1991).

The last point, according to Dr. Buteyko, is the most difficult to learn.

In other words, take smaller diaphragmatic inhalations with relaxed exhales and sensation of light air hunger.

Note that frequency of breathing is not important in the Buteyko method. Breathing less with the relaxed diaphragm is the key. The Buteyko breathing consists of a shallow, low-volume voluntary breathing pattern.
Review of the main factors

In short, the main factors of the RB
- smaller inhalations using the diaphragm only;
- passive and relaxed exhalations (no any efforts applied and all muscles are just relaxed during exhalations);
- light air hunger;
- thorough relaxation of all body muscles;
- correct body posture;
- comfortably cool environment;
- good air quality;
- empty stomach (water is OK);
- nasal breathing only and no speaking.

Each of these conditions is crucial for success.
What would you feel during and after the correct RB

If you breathe less, during the RB period, you will notice the following signs:
- The arms and feet will get warm in about 2-3 minutes after starting the RB (this is the central and most important sign present in over 90% students who practice it correctly);
- The nasal passages will be clearer (especially when the nose was partly blocked before).
- The nose will often become moist and cold in about the same 2-3 minutes. (However, this effect will not take place, if air quality is unsuitable for you or if you have chronic problems with sinuses and nasal breathing.)
- The diaphragm will become slightly tense and unsettled. Indeed, if you breathe less, your breathing centre tries to intensify respiration, while you are doing the opposite job: teaching the breathing centre how to breathe less

There are many other individual and occasional signs and symptoms indicating that the student breathes less:
- tears in eyes;
- increased salivation;
- restoration of the muscular tone of the transverse colon and stomach leading to the natural desire to sit straight;
- the desire to flex and stretch arms (especially after the session);
- feeling of increased energy (or feeling of being charged);
- feeling of being focused (instead of confused and indecisive);
- reduced hunger for food and addictive substances, etc.

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