062: Buteyko Breathing with Steve Donald


When Shannon heard about Buteyko breathing she became curious and reached out to Steve Donald, one of the first Buteyko teachers in Canada. Steve had struggled with asthma throughout his life,  and it worsened as he grew older. He tried raw diets and supplements and some improvement was made but not sustained. In looking for an answer an internet search led him to learn about The Buteyko Method.


Impressed with the extent Buteyko helped him with his chronic condition Steve trained to teach Buteyko in 2006. He is the founding member of the Buteyko Breathing Educators Association ( BBEA) 2010 and was elected as BBEA president and board chair in 2016. Steve has been asked to speak to various groups, including yoga teachers and is preparing to hold teacher trainings in the Buteyko Method in the near future.


Buteyko is based on the concept that we breathe an excessive amount of air and it negatively impacts the function of our bodily systems. It is known as an asthma, sleep apnea and anxiety treatment; however, it is effective in treating a wide range of chronic health issues, as well as being good for general health and wellbeing.


Shannon and Steve discuss breath and the Buteyko method including what happens on a physiological level when we take a deep breath, how much air we should optimally be taking in per minute, and why Steve highly recommends nose breathing (even when engaging in physically demanding activities such as running). Shannon also asks Steve how the Buteyko Method can co-exist with yoga.

[11:50] What led Steve to discover the Buteyko method


[14:00] How much time does it take to incorporate the breathing exercises into your life


[15:35] The theory behind Buteyko


[17:00] Steve’s process to incorporate Buteyko into his life despite his skepticism


[19:40] Other alternative health attempts made by Steve to relieve his asthma symptoms


[20:55] How to incorporate Buteyko breathing into your life and how much work is needed in order to maintain the benefits


[22:20] Steve’s experience as one of the first Buteyko teachers in Canada


[23:20] Difference between yogic and Buteyko breathing and the possibility of incorporating Buteyko breathing with yoga


[26:05] The culture of “take a deep breath” and what happens on a physiological level when you take in too much breath


[30:00] How understanding respiratory physiology informs the understanding of blood pH and the effectiveness of Buteyko


[33:50] How much a healthy adult should be breathing and how much those with chronic conditions breathe (liters per minute)


[35:50] What Steve wants to share with yoga teachers


[38:05] Why Steve believes large volume breathing isn’t beneficial and the effect it has on those with asthma and anxiety


[40:10] Nose breathing versus mouth breathing


[44:40] A great yoga cue for breathing through the nose


[45:35] What distinguishes Buteyko breathing from regular breathing


[47:35] How to work with Steve and upcoming Buteyko trainings


[51:45] Shannon’s closing thoughts on breath



Steve’s Website: Buteyko Toronto


Buteyko Toronto on Facebook


Buteyko Breathing Educators Association


Further Reading: Buteyko and Breathing


PDF: The Health Benefits of Nose Breathing by Dr. Alan Ruth


Article: 28 Reasons to Nose Breathe by Lisa Bowen


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