Benefits of Square Breathing

There is a growing body of clear scientific evidence that intentionally slowing your breath and focusing on a deep breathing exercise can help to clear the mind and calm your Autonomic Nervous System. This is because slow, deep breathing has been shown to increase the carbon dioxide levels in your blood, which relaxes both the body and mind.

This means that box breathing benefits include an ability to:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Boost your mood
  • Decrease blood pressure and heart rate
  • Improve sleep and prevent insomnia.

How To Do Box Breathing Using a 4×4 Count

As you practice the exercise, you can imagine yourself moving through each side of the square, creating clearly defined movements to your breath.

To begin, simply exhale all of the air from your body. I like to add a couple of long, full inhalations followed by loud exhalations (a strong “sighing” feel) before beginning the exercise. This helps to clear the space and prepare you for the practice.

Then, when you are ready to begin, follow these 4 simple steps:

  1. Inhale slowly for 4 seconds.
  2. Hold the breath in for 4 seconds.
  3. Exhale slowly for 4 seconds.
  4. Rest with the breath out for 4 seconds.

Evidence

The square breathing technique has been used in psychotherapy for more than 40 years (and known for centuries in the eastern cultures).

Peterson, L.A. (2017). Decrease stress by using your breath. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/decrease-stress-by-using-your-breath/art-20267197?pg=2.