Buteyko Maximum Danger: Breath Holds Can Worsen Health

Sasha Yakovleva, Advanced Buteyko Specialist explains why incorrect Buteyko instructions can be dangerous



I just finished a session with my client and decided to do this blog. I had a session with a woman who was very disappointed because her daughter learned “Buteyko” and as a result of it, her health worsened; she started experiencing strong symptoms. Now, this girl is on antibiotics and, of course, her mother is very concerned;  she doesn’t understand what’s going on with her daughter.

The reason it all happened was that she was taught to do ‘Buteyko’ by pushing her Control Pause or by doing so-called ‘Aggressive Maximum Pauses’. This is very dangerous and absolutely should not be applied. I think I have said this before a few times, but seeing the mother of this girl who was about to cry, I decided to emphasize it again.

It is true that once in a while Dr. Buteyko used so-called aggressive maximum pauses with his patients. But he knew exactly with what conditions they were helpful and with what conditions they were damaging to health. So he used them with specific conditions in mind. On top of that, those pauses were always used under the supervision of himself as a Medical Doctor or other Doctors who worked at Clinica Buteyko in Moscow.

If you don’t have a trained Buteyko Doctor supervising your Buteyko practice do not do any aggressive, pushing maximum breath holds!

So please be reasonable; please be careful; and please treat your breathing with respect. It’s really easy to damage health. And it’s not that easy to restore it. So please think first before you start doing any kind of violent manipulations with your breathing – whether they are called ‘advanced’ or ‘maximum’ or whatever, it doesn’t matter. You have to be gentle with yourself.

2 thoughts on “Buteyko Maximum Danger: Breath Holds Can Worsen Health”

  1. Good evening Sasha,

    I recently discovered Buteyko breathing technique – BBT ( book Close your mouth by Patrick McKeown) after having shortness of breath (dyspnea) after some stressful news, which thankfully turned out not to be true (i was told i have a heart issue, however after a few test I was told it was a false positive)… and stressful summer at work.

    Initially i wanted to go and do also a lung scan, but at the end I didn’t want to make even more stress to myself, so I decided to try BBT instead. My morning CP was around 15 (this was on 2nd of September) then quite fast went up to around 20-25, maybe more by now.

    I’ve been doing nasal breathing since the beginning of September, also during the night (i never had snoring problems or mouth breathing during the night), i do however talk a lot at work as I work in tourism and I am doing sports regularly. My breathing seems relatively calm, i did however notice that I now started get these involuntary short deep breaths, almost like a hiccup, but it’s not a hiccup, it is hard to explain. Normally it happens after breath holds or during breathing exercises aka walking exercise. Is that normal, as I never had this before? I can’t really prevent them as it happens quite fast (yawning on the other side I suppress by swallowing as per instructions). Maybe I am doing BBT wrong as there are no real BBT instructors where I live, so I am relying on videos and reading material (Close your Mouth book for example).

    What I do at home, or at work,or on the way to work, is that I try to breath very slow and inhale a lot less than before for a few minutes (when inhaling, it is hard to inhale slow and short or leas than before, but exhale it is easy to do it slow) and as the book suggests, i am doing breath holds while i walk (a few times a day). After a normal exhale I can do between 20-40 steps, depends of the day. Its easy to do 20. However 40 I already get the movement from the diaphragm and after that normally the first 2-4 breaths are a bit bigger but then they become slower and i can again inhale less and after 30sec-1min i can do this walking exercise again.

    …initially my dyspnea seemed to go away (at least i thought so) since I didn’t do the very deep breaths-in, which I was doing a lot at the beginning when i as having dyspnea symptoms and before i found out about BBT.

    Now is the 3rd week, since i started to do this exercises and i tried do fully do deep breaths just to see the difference and it’s hard to explain again, i feel like the upper part of my chest/lungs is tight, doesn’t work, almost as if it is worst as when I started. I feel there is something in my throat and there is some mucus. I came across your blog and it seems you’re the only one pointing out at the problems if you do BBT incorrectly. What actually can go wrong if you do it too much as I am afraid now I over did it or is it just the so called “cleansing reaction” which lasts a few weeks?? …maybe I should do a scan to be sure it is not something else? Can you do a lot of damage in 2-3 weeks if you do it incorrectly?

    My oxygen levels SpO2, when i use oximeter on different fingers, between 96-99%, while before BBT they stayed between 94-96%

    Thank you from my heart for any information, loads of love and peace 🙏♥️

    David Zupanc

    • Thank you​ for your message. It seems that you have been applying the correct Buteyko techniques together with the incorrect ones (or not appropriate for your condition). As a result, you experience negative results. ​What you described cannot be qualified as a cleansing reaction. I will be glad to help you; however, I will need to evaluate your breathing​ to create a Buteyko program appropriate for you. Please use the following link to register for a Private Session online: https://buteykobreathingcenter.com/products/private-session-with-sasha


Leave a Comment