What is Box Breathing?
Four-square breathing, sometimes referred to as the box breathing technique, is a simple technique that you can do at any time that you feel stressed.
Controlled breathing is an integral part of meditation and can be utilised independently to calm nerves and relieve stress by helping to regulate the autonomic nervous system. Square breathing emphasises control through counts of four, which allows your body to make full use of the air. You also will work the chest and abdominal muscles slightly as you practice the box breathing technique.
Initial Belly Breathing Practice – Try It Now!
- Put your hand on your belly.
- Push it out by drawing in a deep breath through your nostrils.
- Exhale fully through your mouth, pushing the hand in towards your spine. Get all the air out.
- Repeat three times.
- Do it all again, only this time focus on physically expanding the belly, the lower chest, then the upper chest in sequence as you breath in deeply.
Box Breathing Technique
Visualise a square. You’re starting in the bottom left corner.
Breathe in steadily through the nose for a count of 3 to 5 (experiment with a count that suits you). This is taking you up the side of the square.
The Hold (full)
Once your lungs are full, maintain for a count of 3-5. When holding your breath, you aren’t looking to create tension, so try to let your breath ‘float’ by keeping the airway open. ‘Float’ for the same time as you spent breathing in (hence the box).
Follow that with a controlled exhalation through the mouth (try to get ALL the air out).
The Hold (empty)
With completely empty lungs, wait four a count of four before inhaling again. As with the top hold, we aren’t looking for tension here, so try and keep the body calm.
Repeat the box for a set number of breaths (e.g. 10), or for time (e.g. 5 minutes). Find a count that fits your breathing pattern and doesn’t leave you gasping for air or rushing your way through. The more you focus on the act of breathing, the better the effect.
The Benefits of Box Breathing (all 15 of them!)
In just a single four minute session you should be able to reduce stress and anxiety, clear the mind and calm nerves.
By learning box breathing you can increase blood flow, increase learning and skill development, and improve focus and attention.
If you make it a regular part of your routine you may notice increased energy and awareness.
Finally, some of the less obvious benefits include an improved immune system, enhanced arousal response, decreased shallow breathing, nervous system regulation and improved discipline.
I highly recommend you try it now, and spread the word of this beautifully simple form of meditation.