Box Breathing is a down-regulating breathing technique designed to trigger a state of calm and clarity. It is also known as Four-Square Breath, as the inhalations, exhalations and the holds at the top and bottom of each breath are equal in length. There is a 1:1 ratio between all four parts.
Box Breathing is practiced by Special Forces, Olympic athletes, first responders, surgeons and public speakers to help them deal more capably with highly stressful events. It was popularised by Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL but it has its roots in sama vritti (Equal Breathing), an ancient yogic practice designed to “calm the fluctuations of the mind”.
If you are new to conscious, diaphragmatic breathing, you can drop the breath retentions and begin by equalising your inhalations and exhalations. When you are more advanced, you can increase the intensity by slowing down your count, keeping the ratio the same.
BENEFITS OF BOX BREATHING
- Calms the central nervous system.
- Triggers a state of calm and clarity.
- Reduces agitation and anxiety.
- Quiets mental chatter.
- Reduces heart rate.
- Improves your ability to concentrate.
- Block (optional)
TIPS AND MODIFICATIONS
- Sitting cross-legged is optional. You can kneel or sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground and your back straight if that is more comfortable.
- Expand your belly on the inhalation, to trigger the parasympathetic “rest and digest” response.
- Keep your jaw, neck and shoulders relaxed throughout the exercise.
- Your breath should never be forced or strained. If necessary, you can change the pace.