Box Breathing / 4 Square Breathing - Breathing Exercise 2
(Previous Breathing Exercise 'Nadi Shodhana Pranayama' is here - try them both!)
This breathing technique is also referred to as ’4 Square Breathing’ and is a great breathing exercise for simply 'resetting' the breath to its normal rhythm. It is easy and simple to learn and a really effective tool for using in stressful situations, to calm the mind and body. It is a great 'go to' technique for those that do experience anxiety and also useful to use at times you need to focus or re centre yourself.
It is also great for people that like visualisation, because you the idea is to 'visualise' a box while you are doing this breathing exercise and it gives your mind something to focus on, if you have a wondering mind and find it hard to settle or relax. Your mind has three things to focus on, so your thoughts don’t have any room to interrupt this breathing technique - perfect for those with a busy mind.
When we breath, we have a natural ‘pause’ where the breath moves from an inhale to the exhale (and vice versa). The calmer and more relaxed we are, the longer this pause is. By holding the breath in between the inhale and exhale, we are literally absorbing all the wonderful nutrients and benefits that oxygen provides our body, fuelling our organs, stimulating the vagus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system. This breathing technique can calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS). This system regulates involuntary body functions such as temperature and can also lower blood pressure, as well as providing a sense of calm and relaxation.
I use this exercise to calm my mind and also find it quite energising afterwards.
Come into that comfortable seat
Close the eyes (or take a soft gaze)
Take 2 deep inhales and exhales through the nose
Visualise a box in your mind
Then slowly inhale for the count of 4 (or a count that suits you), up the side of the box
Hold the breath for 4 across the top of the box
Then exhale down the side of the box for a count of 4
Then hold the breath along the bottom of the box, again for a count of 4
…and release and come back to natural, easy breath or repeat for as many rounds as feels comfortable.
As this technique of ‘holding the breath’ might be new to you, you may feel dizzy after a few rounds, so I often suggest doing one round, then resuming normal breathing for a few breaths and then going again with another round. Once you have got the hang of the technique try doing a few rounds together and seeing how you feel.
You can also change the count to one that suits you, if 4 seems a little too long for you, plus when doing this yourself you are in charge of the pace/speed of the count. So have a play and enjoy!
Like with all breathing exercises, practice safely and stop at any point that feels right for you, coming back to the natural easy breath.
I would recommend breathing exercises (pranayama) everyday! We live in a culture where ‘multi-tasking’ and moving ‘quickly’ through whatever we are doing has become the ‘norm’. Most of us these days breath into the upper part of our lungs, especially when we are busy. This is whats known as ‘shallow breathing’ and is another reason why our shoulders and chest can become tight. As we are not using all of our lungs capacity we are not giving the body the oxygen it needs to function properly. This is why breathing exercises are a great way to bring balance into your life. By spending a few minutes a day doing breathing exercises, not only will you lower stress levels and calm the mind, but we also oxygenate the body. This provides the brain, the blood and all the organs the nourishing oxygen it needs to function well
I do a Breathing and Mindfulness sessions on our Yoga & Cooking At Home Retreats online, also look out for dates on the Yoga Page (under Yoga Classes and Events). These are also be advertised on social media too, so be sure to follow us if not already @wildandfreeadventures and @wildandfree_yoga). Also if you don't already...sign up to our newsletter, where we share up and coming events and whats on next month - just add your email to the 'subscribe' box at the end of every page on website.