This centering, calming and healing breath exercise is practiced during Awaken with Meditation and Rahini Yoga®. It's one of the pranayamas, or breath exercises, included in the "Rahini Yoga®" teacher training programs. "Square Breathing," also known as Box Breathing, incorporates breath work, focus and counting; mental concentration; visualization; and during some variations, sound healing. It's also a very effective form of breath focused meditation or mindfulness breathing. When creating Kind Karma®, we say this breath is an effective way to heal your mind and body, bring balance to your emotions and align your internal energies.
This Awaken with Meditation and Rahini Yoga® breathing exercise is part of Kind Karma's Mission Initiative called, "TALK": Teach All Loving Kindness. TALK is about teaching others how to connect with their own innate kindness and building a global community of Kind Karma Creators. TALK is a call-to-action and its aim is to teach people specific methods of how to choose kindness, self-healing and holistic harmony in their lives, and to spread this Kind Karma® to those with whom they share the world.
What is Square Breathing?
Square Breathing (or, Box Breathing) is a powerful, yet simple, breath-focused meditation technique that aims to clear, calm and refocus the mind and relax and-de-stress the body. It's very easy to do, quick to learn, and can be a highly effective technique for people in stressful or anxious situations.
The practice is simply: inhaling for a count of 4, holding or pausing the breath for a count of 4, exhaling for a count of 4 and holding the breath after the exhale for a count of 4.
While breathing and counting, imagine a square. If you’re using a visual aid, follow the four sides of a square. Each step is a corner of the square; as you count to four, move along one side of the square at a time.
Posture for Beginning the Practice of Square Breathing
Sit in a cross-legged position or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. The four corners of the feet are: the ball of the foot/the base mound of the big toe; the outer ball of the foot/the base mound of the little toe; inner heel; and outer heel.
Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones.
Align your head, neck, and spine. Feel tall. Feel expanded. Feel Light.
As you lengthen your spine, soften your face and neck, and lower and relax your shoulders.
Spend some time softening your your hips (feel your hip creases relax), thighs and feet (if you need to, spread your toes out and release them several times until you feel your feet soften and relax).
Gently close your eyes to help you to visualize the square shape.
Keep your hands relaxed in your lap with your palms facing up or in your favorite hand mudra.
Awaken with Meditation Tip: Make whatever modifications you need to feel steady, comfortable and supported in your seated posture.
Preparation: Exhale and Release your Breath with Intention
Slowly exhale through your mouth, getting all the oxygen or stagnant energy, out of your lungs.
Awaken with Meditation Tip: Focus on this intention and be mindful of what you’re doing.
Step #1: Slowly Inhale
Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. In this step, count to four very slowly in your head.
Feel the air fill your lungs, until your lungs are full and the air moves into your belly.
Awaken with Meditation Tip: Concentrate on your belly and notice how it also moves when you inhale deeply.
Step #2: Softly Hold or Pause your Breath
Softly hold your breath for another slow count of four.
Awaken with Meditation Tip: Do not force your breath.
Step #3: Exhale Slowly
Exhale through your mouth for the same slow count of four, expelling the air from your lungs and belly.
Awaken with Meditation Tip: Be conscious of the feeling of the air leaving your lungs.
Step #4: Softly Hold or Pause your Breath
After the exhalation, softly hold your breath for another slow count of four.
Awaken with Meditation Tip: Do not force your breath.
Repeat Steps #1-4
Ideally, breathe in and out through the nose - nasal breathing.
Repeat for four to six square breath cycles (one square = one breath cycle) or 3-5 minutes.
When you become familiar and comfortable with this breathing technique, repeat as long as you feel you need to do so.
At first try nasal breathing, however, if it better serves you to breath in through your nose and then out your mouth, that's fine.
Additional "Awaken with Meditation" Tips
If you’re new to Square Breathing it may be difficult to get the hang of it. You may get dizzy or feel slightly anxious after a few rounds. This is normal. With regular practice, you’ll be able to go longer without the dizziness or discomfort. If you do get dizzy, remain sitting for a minute or so, resuming normal breathing.
If needed, practice Square Breathing several times a day to calm your nerves and relieve stress.
Benefits of Square Breathing
Calms and clear the mind, relaxes body and relieves stress.
Help the mind to refocus.
Restores balance to your moods and control your emotions.
A first aid breath when you feel stressed, anxiousness or nervous.
Helpful for conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression.
Helps to lower blood pressure.
Is useful for pain control or management.
Helps with insomnia.
Increasing brain fitness and elasticity through enhanced blood flow and reduced mental stimulation.
Slowing down the breath allows CO2 to build up in the blood, which stimulates the response of the vagus nerve to produce feelings of calmness throughout the body.
Awaken Qigong: We practice Square Breathing to increase energy - chi - awareness.
Ayurveda Holistic Health & Healing (AHHH!): We practice Square Breathing for all body and mind types, particularly Vata Mind Types.
Rahini Yoga®: Used at various times during our yoga classes, depending on sequencing. We also practice Square Breathing during meditation, savasana, seniors yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, therapeutic yoga and kid's yoga classes.
"Awaken with Meditation" and "Rahini Yoga®" Variations
COLOR: Instead of counting to four, another variation is to visualize four sides of a box changing to a new color, one after the other, or in a line as though the box is being traced by a colored pen you hold with your mind, making this into a visualization exercise.
Awaken with Meditation Tip: Visualize healing colors or colors that you find peaceful and soothing.
HIGH VIBRATIONAL HEALING SOUNDS: Instead of a counting to four, recite - mentally or aloud - four sounds, such as: "Sa Ta Na Ma" or "Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung."
HEALING SOUNDS + COUNTING: Such as, "AH, Two, Three, Four" or "OM, Two, Three, Four".
POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: Substitute fours words instead of counting. Some examples we use are: "Peace begins with me", "Kindness begins with me", "Compassion begins with me" or "Happiness begins with me."
POSITIVE AFFIRMING PHRASE + COUNTING: Such as, "BEAUTIFUL, Two, Three, Four" or "EMPOWERED, Two, Three, Four.
This blog post is not a substitute for conventional medical diagnosis or treatment for any medical or psychological condition. It is not intended as a replacement or substitute for medical treatment from a health care provider for any medical or psychological condition, nor should it be used as such. For such issues, you should seek the proper treatment from a licensed physician or healthcare professional. Be sure to consult your physician before starting this or any other exercise program.
© 2019. All Rights Reserved. Dean Telano.