The Control Pause

Assessing the tendency for you to over-breathe is done by gauging the sensitivity of your body towards carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main stimulus for breathing. You can do this safely by building up CO2 in your body using a simple breath-hold test called the Control Pause (CP).

Important things to be aware of before you start:

  • Hold your breath after you breathe out, not after you breathe in.
  • The breath is held until the first urges only. It is not a measurement of the maximum length of time that you can hold your breath.
  • The CP is a measurement of your breath-hold time only. It is not an exercise to correct your breathing.

1. Take a small silent breath in and a small silent breath out. Start the stopwatch above.

2. Pinch your nose with your fingers to prevent air from entering into your lungs.

3. Hold your breath until your first urge to breathe or until you feel your chest or diaphragm (belly) involuntarily moving, whichever comes first.

4. When this happens, stop the stopwatch, release your nose and breathe in through it normally, avoid taking a deep breath in.

Note: Your inhalation after the breath-hold should be no larger than your breath prior to taking the measurement. It should be calm and quiet.

What it means: A low CP time is under 25 seconds. The lower your C.P time, the more prone you will be to hyperventilate. This is because a low C.P signifies habituation to over-breathe at rest. It does take some practice before you become consistent in measuring your control pause. The measure is subjective because it is difficult to know what the first urge is. It is very easy to push a little too hard and this is the case when the first breath after taking the CP is uncontrollably deep.  With practice, your control pause measurement will become more consistent.

The Buteyko method works by prescribing exercises that habituate the body to feeling an air hunger. With practice, these exercises will adjust your breathing to become slower and calmer. You will be able to clearly measure your progress because your CP will become higher.