Box Breathing

Box Breathing

Yoga, Meditation & Mindful Leadership Series


Ever noticed your breath when you were stressed, feeling anxious, angry? If you did, you might have experienced it as being fast, shallow, pressed. As much as the situations and emoitions we are experiencing can influence how we breathe, the opposite is true as well. Focused awareness of breath and conscious breathing helps to calm and balance our sympathetic nervous system, that is active under stress.

You can use this excercise

  • before a speech or presentation you are nervous about, a challenging meeting, or a difficult conversation that rises your pulse and emotions even before it started.
  • in the middle of a difficult situation where you feel you need to calm down – step out for 5 minutes!
  • after a tense and stressful situation or the end of a day, where you find it difficult to let go of what you experienced, where you might feel your head keeps spinning.


  1. Find a space, where you can be undisturbed for 5 minutes. Yes, the office toilet can work.
  2. Seated: if you sit on a chair, sit upright (best to come forward on the seat a bit) and ensure both feet are grounded on the floor.
  3. Standing: Place your feet hip width apart.
  4. Curl you index and middle finger of your right hand softly on to your palm, so that you can use your thumb and ring finger to alternately close your right and left nostril
  5. Take a moment to feel your seat and/or your feet on the floor. Close your eyes if it is comfortable for you.
  6. Take a deep, cleansing breath in and lengthen through your spine. Relax your shoulders while you exhale softly, and completely.Take one more cleansing inhale and exhale.
  7. Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril on a count of 3. Keep holding your inhale (breath retention) on another count of 3. Switch your hand to close your left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right nostril on a count of 3. Keep your exhale (breath retention) on another count of 3.
  8. Repeat for at least 6 rounds. With your eyes closed, return to your normal breath and observe how you feel.


  • Box Breathing is a breathing technique to help you calm down, restore balance and to bring your attention (back) to be present in the moment.
  • It is called “box breathing” because we can imagine our breath flowing in a square box:

Add-ons / Variations:

  • Prolong the counts to 4, 5, 6 if it feels comfortable and you can do it with ease (note: each full round always has the same count for all steps).
  • If you can not breathe freely through alternating nostrils, simply visualize breathing in through your left and right nostril, without actually closing them.
  • Once advancing in the technique: Turn your closed eyes softly up towards the space space between/slightly above your eyebrows. Consciously relax your jaw and place the tip of your tongue on your gum right behind your front teeth.
  • Consciously expand your inhale and exhale into the space of your lower belly, your lower chest and all the way up into upper chest and shoulder region

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