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Why Are the Control Pause and Pulse Rate Used In The Buteyko Method?


Updated June 27, 2010

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Buteyko Method: Young Doctor Buteyko

Buteyko Method: Young Doctor Buteyko

Photo: Wikepedia
Question: Why Are the Control Pause and Pulse Rate Used In The Buteyko Method?

To determine if you are benefiting from the Buteyko Method, you monitor 2 parameters daily:

  • Control pause
  • Pulse rate

Control Pause and the Buteyko Method

The control pause provides you with an estimate of your carbon dioxide levels. In the Buteyko Method, slowing your rate of breathing will result in increased carbon dioxide levels in your body and an increase in the control pause. The control pause is the time you can hold your breath following exhalation before you begin to develop symptoms of air hunger (the point at which you become uncomfortable from not breathing). Increasing control pause is associated with better control of your asthma.

Determining Your Control Pause in the Buteyko Method

  1. If your nose is not clear, make sure you clear it first

  2. Once your nose is clear, sit in a good posture with your back firmly against a straight-backed chair

  3. Through your nose, breathe calmly in for 2 seconds and calmly out for 3 seconds

  4. At the end of your exhalation, pinch your nose and hold your breath.

  5. Using a watch, clock or counting (one- one-thousand, two- one-thousand, etc.) time how long you can hold your breath until you become uncomfortable and need to take a new breath. This is the control pause, the length of time you can hold your breath following your exhale.

  6. When you begin breathing again after the control pause, be careful not to over breathe. Your breath should be as similar as possible to your last breath in and out. If you are forced to take big, gasping breaths after the control pause then you are holding your breath too long.

There is research to suggest that better health is associated with a longer controlled pause. According to Peter McKeown’s Close Your Mouth: Buteyko Clinic Handbook For Perfect Health, a control pause of less than 10 seconds is considered poor health, 10-40 seconds represents good health, while more than 40 seconds is considered perfect health.

Just as your fitness improves with exercise, as you practice the Buteyko Method you should notice an increasing control pause. Mr. McKeown recommends that you check and chart your control pause daily, preferably in the morning just after waking up.

Monitoring Your Response to the Buteyko Method By Measuring Your Pulse

According to Mr. McKeown's research, as your control pause increases, you should notice a decrease in your resting pulse rate as well. While further research may be needed to confirm the benefits of the Buteyko Method, advocates believe that the exercises will lower your heart rate, which may have a lasting impact by improving your overall health.

You can check your pulse by counting your pulse:

  • For a full minute or
  • For 30 seconds and multiplying by 2

You can find your radial or carotid pulses using the linked diagrams. Realize that a number of things can increase your pulse rate such as eating and exercise so it is best to perform these exercises when awakening if possible.

While certain groups should not perform the Buteyko breathing technique, the breathing exercises are generally safe. Make sure you speak with your health care provider before attempting these exercises.


McKeown, P. Close Your Mouth: Buteyko Clinic Handbook For Perfect Health. Buteyko Books: Unit Six, Calbro House, Tuam Road, Galway, Ireland, 2004.

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