IAOBP | Transcript copy of Star TV's Focus Asia segment on Buteyko's Method with Jac Vidgen - IAOBP

BAD BREATH: Shakuntala Santhiran for STAR TV’s Focus Asia

One would imagine that breathing is the most natural thing for any living person. But practitioners of the Buteyko method – an alternative breathing technique – believe that many people perform this basic function of life incorrectly without even knowing it. And they say incorrect breathing could be causing over 200 ailments, from asthma to impotence.
Shakuntala Santhiran has the story.


Thirty-eight-year-old Mohyna Srinivasan suffers from asthma, a chronic lung disease that causes breathing disorders, and can be fatal. The slightest physical activity used to make her breathless.

Mohyna Srinivasan, a Market Research Manager says: “Anything that was bit physically challenging, and I mean really slightly, I would get breathless. And typically I would like to use my inhaler after that. The inhaler gives you shakiness of the limbs and generally you’re not hundred percent. If there was an infection going around, I was quite sure to catch it.”

(Mohnya Srinivasan doing Buteyko)

Since she learnt Buteyko’s method of breathing nine months ago, Mohyna says she’s been in the pink.

Her stamina is much improved and she no longer needs medication.

Mohyna Srinivasan says: “I haven’t used an inhaler or any kind of traditional medication for my condition since I took the workshop which was in June so that makes me drug free now for about 9 months and that makes me very happy because that was my goal.”

(Christopher Gold)

Fifty-nine-year- old Christopher Gold is another satisfied Buteyko customer.

He suffers from sleep apnoea, a potentially life threatening breathing disorder.

Christopher Gold, a university professor says: “Sleep apnea is a bit like snoring, but snoring too much. With sleep apnea, it’s even worse because you choke at the same time, it’s sort of (he demonstrates), and you actually stop breathing. And this means that sleep is very broken and you’re very tired the next day and you don’t know why.”

For the last eight years, Chris has had to be force fed air via this machine to help him breathe while he sleeps.

(Puts on mask )

Christopher Gold says: “I would put this on and try and go to sleep.”

But he hasn’t needed the machine since he learnt how to breathe the Buteyko way.

Christopher Gold says: “I can’t say yet that the results will be permanent, but I’ve been one to two months without using the machine, so certainly at present it’s been very effective and I’m very happy.”


Russian respiratory doctor Konstantin Buteyko developed the method over 50 years ago, specifically to help people correct their breathing.

According to Dr Buteyko, nine out of 10 people do not breathe correctly. You might think, as many people do, that you don’t breathe deeply enough, but Buteyko’s research indicates quite the opposite- that many people instead breathe too much.


Over breathing according to Dr Buteyko, is a product of our modern day lives – the pollution in the air, bad diets, and stress in particular.

(Jac Vidgen)

Jac Vidgen, a senior Buteyko practitioner says: “In ancient times, when people were stressed they were about to engage or were engaging in fight or flight. Modern humans are sitting down when they get stressed. And so we are experiencing what I describe as sedentary stress. And sedentary stress unfortunately, provokes the same kind of physiological and biochemical reactions in the body as the stress which prepares you for fight and flight, so your breathing increases, your heart rate increases, your hormones change. And if you’re not in fight and flight your body becomes imbalanced.”

Jac Vidgen, who’s been teaching Buteyko’s method for over a decade, says this imbalance can be manifested in over 200 disorders like asthma and sleep apnoea, and also more unexpected conditions like diabetes, impotence and even varicose veins!

Jac Vidgen says: “The product of that can be manifested depending on your genetic predisposition. If you have a genetic predisposition for asthma, then it will be manifested as asthma. If you have a genetic predisposition for digestive disorders, it may be manifested that way.”

(Jac teaching)

Jac Vidgen says: “The idea is to have your breathing soft and gentle and light.”

Jac and other Buteyko practitioners believe shallow breathing through the nose is the key to alleviating these conditions.

Jac Vidgen says: ” As a person reduces their breathing to more normal levels, the balance of oxygen and CO2 in the body becomes more corrected, more appropriate, more optimum, which allows for effective oxygen delivery to the cells and allows for opening of air passages. In the trials that have been done on this method in relation to asthma there was like a 96% reduction in bronco-dilator use across the board in the trial group within a few weeks and sustained to the end of six months.”

These results have been consistent in four different trials in Australia, Scotland and New Zealand and they’ve certainly excited some doctors.

But many practitioners of mainstream medicine are more sceptical about the method.

Dr. Roland Leung, Respiratory Specialist, Hong Kong Medical Association says: “To slow down your breathing, I think does have a role in alleviate the sensation of shortness of breath. But just controlling the breathing itself is not going to treat the underlying patho-physiology of asthma, which is airway inflammation, causing narrowing of the airways.”

Like many conventional practitioners, Dr Leung continues to prescribe drugs to treat asthma.

He refuses to consider Buteyko’s method.

Dr. Leung says: “Without any proper randomised control trial between the conventional method and Buteyko breathing method, I think one cannot say for sure whether it’s scientific value is there or isn’t there.”

Dr Leung has so far declined Jac’s invitations to try Buteyko breathing himself.

Mohyna too was sceptical about the breathing method before she tried it, but she’s now sold on its benefits.

Mohyna Srinivasan says: “The results speak for themselves, I haven’t used an inhaler, I haven’t taken medication. I’ve recommended it to lots of friends. It’s helped them as well.”


The drug-free method is being used not just to treat conditions like asthma.

There are a growing number of Buteyko enthusiasts who are using the technique to lose weight.

Athletes here in Hong Kong, Australia and Russia are also breathing shallow to improve their performance and stamina.

Buteyko’s method promises no miracles – you have to work to get results.

Jac Vidgen says: “The success rate will depend entirely upon the person’s need and willingness to practise. You’re changing the biggest habit we have and you can’t expect to change that without some work ”

To convince sceptics to try Buteyko’s method, Jac offers a money back guarantee.

He says out of over 5000 people that he’s taught in the last 11 years, only five have asked for a refund.

That’s pretty good odds.

This transcript is courtesy of the STAR TV’s Focus Asia website.