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Woman doing a breathing exercise

BOX breathing 4x4 (Sama vritti) exercise.

Sama vritti (box breathing) is a basic Pranayama exercise that, as one of the balancing breath exercises, teaches you to focus on your breath and balance your nervous system.


It is a simple exercise with a focus on making your inhalation and exhalation the same length - But you might actually find that it isn't as simple as you think. Time and again I find that clients are not able to do this exercise on a 4 x 4 count to begin with. If this is the reality for you, you might want to start using a 1 or 2 count on the holds, and then slowly work your way up to a 4 count on the holds.


The reason why it can prove difficult for some to do a 4-count hold is due to the fact that holding your breath requires you to tolerate a rising Co2 level in your body. Now this ability can be trained, but you might find that you do not have the ability - yet!


Mindfully set up the exercise.


When performing it, you can choose to do it sitting on a chair, on a cushion, on the floor, or even lying on your back.


All the instructions below assume that you are seated.


  • Find a comfortable sitting position.
  • Place your hands on your thighs, if you are sitting on a chair, move slightly away from the back of the chair, sit with a straight back, and make sure that your feet are firmly planted on the floor.
  • Sit with your chin parallel to the floor or if you are lying down with your chin at 90 degrees - the underside of your chin vertical.
  • You can choose to keep your eyes open or closed.
  • If you keep your eyes open, find a spot on the floor in front of you and slightly away from you, where you let your gaze rest softly.
  • Now relax your face and shoulders, but keep a slight arch in your lower back and keep your spine straight. Imagine a straight line running through you from the top of your head to your pelvis.
  • You will only breathe through your nose, so keep your mouth closed. If this seems difficult at first, you can start by breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, and as soon as it is possible switch to breathing only through the nose.
  • Keep a steady calm pace, you don't want to breathe too fast or too slow, but with a calm rhythm, without feeling any tension around the breath. You will have to breathe a lot slower than you think. So aim for 1 sec. counts.


How to do Box breathing.


  • Do the setup described above, and start taking a couple of normal breaths in and out.
  • When you are ready take an inhale while you count - slowly, and I mean REALLY slowly - to 4.
  • Now hold your breath, while counting to 4.
  • Exhale SLOWLY while counting to 4.
  • And hold your breath, while counting to 4.
  • And repeat doing an inhale.


Try to do around 10 rounds.



illustration box breathing



When you are done take a normal breath and release your attention to your breathing.

On the next exhale, release all tension in your face and shoulders.

If you have your eyes closed, they may stay closed a little longer.


Just sit for a while until you are ready to open your eyes and notice how your body feels right now.

If you used a shorter hold count, you can extend this over time by going from 2-3-4, so that you end up with a 4x4x4x4 count.


If you at any time feel uncomfortable, or dizzy, stop the exercise and breathe normally.

Disclaimer

The information found in this blog post is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for a health professional's advice. If you are struggling with health issues please seek professional help. The use of any information provided in this blog post is solely at your own risk.


Author Mette Rosenqvist


she/her

With 10 years of supporting women release and manage emotional and physical pain to achieve optimal health, Mette is the seasoned coach and blogger behind MeRoyoga, a Holistic Health website. Dedicated to empowering women of all ages and backgrounds, her work is based on cultivating mind-body awareness and self-regulation through compassionate inquiry. As a Multi passionate coach, Mette incorporates several healing modalities to create bespoken sessions prioritizing inclusion, meaning, and accessibility and thrives on helping women discover all the choices available to them so they can build trust and safety in themselves, and move through life present, centered, and empowered.




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