Square breathing is a breathing exercise, which is easy to follow and understand. Our breathing process can break it down into a number of parts/sections. Square breathing amplifies these parts or segments. The exercise allows us to slow our breathing rate. The most important part is to breathe out completely. Then take a deep breath to a count of 4, hold to a count of 4, breathe out to a count of 4 (seconds at least), then hold for a count of 4. This is how it works:
Breathe out/exhale completely and then do steps A, B, C and D.
Alternatively, you can say, “exhale and inhale” instead of breathe in, and breathe out. The focus of this exercise is the counting to 4 as this gives your breathing a specific length, which for the vast majority reduces/calms ones own breathing rate. If you can start at seconds and then try to increase the gap between the numbers as this will also reduce your breathing rate even further. However, the important element is to start at 4 seconds for each section and then slowly overtime when you become used to the exercise and it is comfortable then and only then increase the gaps.
ALTERNATE NOSE BREATHING
- Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of 4 seconds.
- Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril. Do this to the count of 8 seconds. This completes a half round.
- Inhale through the right nostril to the count of 4 seconds. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril to the count of 8 seconds. This completes one full round.
Start by doing 3 rounds, adding one per week until you are doing 7 rounds.
Abdominal breathing can be very soothing, because it slows you down. It is also efficient, bringing a good supply of oxygen to your brain. Prepare for stressful times by practicing your breathing now:
- Check your breathing pattern by putting one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. If your lower hand moves and your top hand does not, you are doing abdominal breathing. But if your top hand moves and your bottom one does not, you are doing chest breathing.
- To do abdominal breathing, get your stomach relaxed. Inhale deeply through the nose and then exhale through your mouth completely. Let your lungs fill with air again naturally, while your stomach expands. Practice this belly breathing whenever you have spare time (for example, while you are driving).
For a variation on this breathing technique, try 10-to-1 countdown breathing:
- Start with abdominal breathing, letting all the breath out through your mouth and then allowing your abdomen to expand as your lungs fill up again.
- When you exhale, say “TEN,” letting go of tension as if it is being carried out of your body with the air.
- Next time you breathe out, say “NINE” and so on, all the way down to “ONE”
- When you get to “ONE” start again.
- Each time you breathe out, tell yourself you are letting go of tension.
- Many people repeat this sequence slowly for a period of 15-20 minutes. They find that with each new countdown, they reach a deeper level of relaxation.
Slow-down breathing can help you settle down and feel in control. It starts with abdominal breathing, and uses cue words to help you focus and clear your mind. Examples of cue words are:
- As you breathe in, silently say “CALM”.
- As you breathe out, silently say “SAFE”.
- As you breathe in, say “PRESENT”.
- As you breathe out, say “NOW”.
Practice breathing techniques for 5-10 minutes until you get the feel of it, then again several times a day for a few moments. Then it will be instantly ready to use as a mini-tranquilliser whenever you notice yourself starting to feel tense or out of control.