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Box Breathing (Sama Vritti Pranayama) - a powerful addition to your stress and sleep management toolkit

Sama Vritti Pranayama, also known as ‘box breathing’ or ‘square breathing’, is a valuable breath awareness technique which has a calming and stabilising effect on the mind and body.  "Sama" translates to equal or balanced, "vritti" means fluctuations or movements, and "pranayama" encompasses various yogic breathing techniques.  Box breathing is a beneficial tool we can use to manage stress and anxiety, by establishing a sense of inner peace and harmony.

As the names suggest, this simple yet powerful breathing technique involves equal counts for each phase, which forms a ‘box’ pattern.   Starting in a seated upright yet relaxed and comfortable position, we move through each of the phases below: 

Phase 1: Inhale (4 counts): long, slow deep breath in through the nose, filling the lungs and belly

Phase 2: Hold (4 counts): at the top of the inhale, pause and count to 4 silently

Phase 3: Exhale (4 counts):  exhale slowly and steadily, emptying the lungs completely

Phase 4: Hold (4 counts): at the bottom of the exhale, pause and count to 4 silently

Continue with this repetition of each phase of the box breathing, whilst encouraging your awareness of each breath and the effects of it on your mind and body. 

Whilst Sama Vritti Pranayama is generally a safe and effective breathing technique, there are some things to keep in mind which may impact certain individuals.

The final stage of box breathing (Phase 4) can be challenging for some people.  The extended hold at the end of the exhale can be an uncomfortable sensation for some individuals who are unfamiliar with the practice.  Remember: listen to your body and if you feel any stress, calmly return to normal breath then segway back to Phase 1 and continue with the breathwork.

Let us know which phase you find most challenging.   How do you approach that challenge? I remember personally trying to "push through" and getting frustrated at myself - not exactly what we are trying to cultivate in our yoga practice!  

It is always important to make the necessary adjustments and modifications to meet your body where it is at. 

I'd love you to let me know what is happening with your yoga practice, when and how you are using the techniques.

Please drop a message via our Facebook page.  

Follow my YouTube channel for a demonstration of Box Breathing and other useful techniques:


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