Box breathing is a specific form of cadenced breath.
It is called box breathing because each leg of the breath, inhale, hold, exhale, hold, is the same length. Thus, if you drew it out in the number of seconds for each one turning 90 degrees for each transition, it would look like a box.
Box breathing is great for relaxation too, but I’ve put it in the deep breathing section because if you expand the time in each leg it takes deeper breathing to do.
The starting point with box breathing is to do each leg for a four-count. Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and repeat. Most people are not used to holding their breath after exhaling so that can be a little tricky at first, but becomes easier with practice.
You can do this with a fairly natural inhale and exhale or you can aim to fully inhale and fully exhale within those four seconds. The former keeps it more relaxing. While the latter makes it a stronger deep breathing exercise. By fully exhaling the hold afterwards becomes tougher too.
In any of these different ways of doing box breathing, over time you can work to increase the length of each leg. Move to a six count, a ten count and beyond. The hold after the exhale will always be the limiting factor. If you’re using this more for relaxation or meditation you’ll want to keep it easily within your control. If you’re aim is deep breathing though, keep working on extending that count.
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