What is Box Breathing?
Box breathing is a deep breathing technique that can be used to heighten concentration, performance and reduce stress. The box breathing technique is sometimes referred to as square breathing or four-square breathing, but they all refer to the same deep breathing practice.
Who can benefit from box breathing?
Box breathing is beneficial for people of all ages and abilities but this deep breathing technique is particularly beneficial if you’re looking to develop your meditation practice or you want to reduce your stress levels.
The box breathing technique is also particularly useful for people who have lung diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
You can learn more about the benefits of deep breathing for the lungs in our Do Breathing Exercises Work? blog.
How do I use the box breathing technique?
It’s important that you’re in the correct environment before you begin the box breathing technique. It’s useful to find a quiet location with minimal distractions, such as a bedroom or in the garden, to ensure that you are able to focus all of your attention on your breath.
Once you’ve found the best environment, take the time to sit yourself in a comfortable chair that allows you to sit upright whilst your feet are flat on the floor. Sitting up straight is integral because this will support your ability to inhale deeply. You’re now ready to begin.
Step One: Begin with an exhale
To begin your box breathing, slowly exhale through your mouth in order to push oxygen out of your lungs. This allows you to reset your breathing pattern in advance of the box breathing technique.
In this first step, it’s integral that you focus your mind as well as your breath, so focus on your intention of pushing oxygen out of your body.
Step Two: Time to inhale
Next, take a slow, deep breath but this time ensure you’re breathing in through your nose for a count of four. During this box breathing step you should feel your lungs filling with so much air that your lungs become full.
This should lead to air expanding into your stomach too, so it can be useful to hold your hands over your stomach to feel it rising as you inhale.
Step Three: Hold it!
This step is easy. All you have to do is hold your breath whilst you slowly count to four.
During this step of the box breathing technique, allow your mind to clear and focus solely on counting to four and holding all of the air in your lungs and your abdomen.
Step Four: Let it go
Allow the breath to escape slowly through your lips. Don’t breathe out dramatically – your exhalation should be controlled. Exhale slowly to the count of four once more, pushing the air from your lungs and stomach.
Once again, this box breathing step should encourage you to focus only on your breathing action, clearing your mind of additional distractions.
With these four simple steps you’ll quickly become a box breathing expert. These four steps should be repeated for approximately five minutes to ensure you reap all the benefits of the box breathing technique. If you’re looking for someone to guide you through the technique, visit our box breathing video delivered by Dr Les Aria.
Box breathing is an excellent example of harnessing controlled breathing, making it the perfect introduction to The Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof is internationally acclaimed for his deep breathing technique and his processes have allowed him to break over 20 world records. If you’re hoping to advance to The Wim Hof method, try box breathing first.
You can hear from Wim Hof and a selection of other breathing experts and global figures in our seventh digital classroom, Deep Breath.
If you’re looking to learn more about the benefits of deep breathing techniques like box breathing, visit our Deep Breath Hub for additional articles and resources.