Box breathing — also known as “square breathing”, “four-square breathing”, “tactical breathing, “resetting your breath”, “sama vritti pranayama” or “the Navy SEAL breathing technique” — is a very simple, yet very powerful, deep breathing and stress management technique.
The goal of the technique is to control and slow down your breathing so to bring it back to its normal rhythm which, among other benefits, can help relieve stress, relax the body, clear your mind and allow you to better focus and concentrate.
The technique can be useful when you feel stress building up at work, when you can’t sleep and want to calm down, or when you feel overwhelmed and can’t focus. It is also particularly useful in anxiety-provoking situations, to calm a panic attack or before entering a high-pressure situation.
Simple and highly effective, the box breathing technique is used by the United States Navy SEALs and by other people with high-stress jobs such as nurses, police officers and soldiers. But it’s getting increasingly popular and is being used also in many other settings such as doctors’ and therapists’ offices, meditation centers and yoga studios, by athletes, and also at home or at the office.
Box breathing is very simple to put in practice. Find a quiet environment if possible, or put on a pair of headphones and listen to Noisli to tune out any distractions and create a calming environment, and simply follow the 4 steps below. While you perform the exercise, it’s also helpful if you visualize a box with each step representing one side.
Repeat steps 1 to 4 until you feel calm and relaxed. You might feel the benefits right away but don’t worry if you need 5-6 rounds or even more, everyone is different. Use the image below as a visual guide or visit breath.noisli.com for a fully immersive experience.
What makes the Box breathing technique so powerful and effective is that you can practice it anywhere and at any time. You can practice it whenever you need it, no matter if you’re at work, at home or somewhere in public. And, box breathing for 30 seconds will make you already feel better, more relaxed and in control of the situation.
Breathing exercises in general — including box breathing — provide several benefits, such as: