Relieve Stress with Box Breathing
Yogic breathwork (Pranayama) is deeply calming for the body and helps clear the mind. Prana is our vital life force energy, yama means control and ayama is about expansion.
In this pranayama practice, we explore the subtle pause at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale. It’s a natural part of breathing that we often miss when we’re stressed, but through a simple method called Box Breathing, we can learn to cultivate space to rest between each breath. By slowing down your energy, you'll start to relieve feelings of stress.
How to Do the Box Breathing Technique
You can do this wherever you are, seated or standing, with your eyes open or closed.
As you breathe, imagine that you’re tracing the sides of a box with your breath. With an even count, inhale up the side of the box, pause across the top with your lungs full of air, exhale down the other side of the box, and pause across the bottom with your lungs empty of air.
I invite you to relax into that still space at the top of the inhale and the bottom of the exhale.
You have nowhere to go, no one to be and nothing to do.
Keep the back of your throat often and soft.
Inhale for a count of 4. Pause at the top for a count of 4.
Exhale for a count of 4. Pause at the bottom for a count of 4.
Repeat this five times, or until you feel relief.
Whenever you feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, or your energy is scattered, you can use Box Breathing as a tool to create breath awareness - so you can breathe more fully and switch on the calming relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system.
As Thich Nhat Hanh said: "We will be more successful in all our endeavours if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and recentre ourselves. And we'll also have a lot more joy in living"
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