16 seconds is all it takes to transform your life from stressful to pure bliss. No fancy equipment or expensive cost necessary. You just need you and 16 seconds of your time. So what is this miracle 16 second exercise that I’m talking about? Continue reading to find out!
Square breathing is an amazing exercise that can be done in seconds to help you decrease stress and anxiety. Deep breathing exercises, like square breathing, have been around for thousands of years but truly are not utilized enough in western society. Deep breathing has the power to heal your body. You may think I’m being dramatic, but I am completely serious and there is a ton of medical research to back this up.
Deep breathing is the act of filling your lungs to your maximum capacity and then deeply exhaling all of that air. The exercise may sound simple enough but you would be surprised how many people are doing this incorrectly.
The greatest thing is that techniques, like square breathing, have been created to teach you the proper way to deep breath to help heal your body and mind. But first let’s talk about all the amazing health benefits from square breathing.
Benefits of Deep Breathing
There are numerous benefits to deep breathing, however I will only highlight a few of the most beneficial ones here.
Reduction in stress
Deep breathing, when done properly, has a calming effect on the body. Deep breathing will lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, calm racing thoughts, and even decrease cortisol levels in the body (aka the stress hormone).
Cortisol is a hormone released from the adrenal glands in times of stress however there is also a natural continuous release of this in the body when not stressed. Your levels of cortisol are highest in the morning which is why it is beneficial to exercise and meditate first thing in the morning. Exercise and deep breathing can help lower this hormone in your body setting the tone for a more relaxed and stress free day.
Lower blood pressure
Deep breathing creates a calming sensation over the body when done correctly and can even help lower blood pressure. In time of stress and anxiety people’s blood pressure and heart rate will increase. However by starting deep breathing exercises when stress or anxious you will be able to feel your heart rate decrease and feel the tension in your body dissipate which will ultimately lower your overall blood pressure.
Helps strengthen abdominal muscles
Crazy right!? But this is 100% true. Deep breathing can in fact help strengthen your abdominal muscles. This is because deep breathing requires engagement of not just your superficial abdominal muscles but the deeper muscles as well. With proper deep breathing you should be using your abdominal muscles to fully inhale and then fully exhale. This constant engagement of muscles helps tone the train the muscles strengthening them over time.
Pain relieving effects
Deep breathing help improve overall circulation in the body and helps relieve muscle tension thereby helping relieve pain in the body. Did you know that constant stress creates tension in your neck and back muscles that can cause back pain? This is why stress relieving techniques like deep breathing and stretching are so important to pain relief.
To properly do deep breathing exercises you must sit up straight with your head in alignment with your spine. This creates the ideal posture that helps relieve muscle tension in the back and neck. Plus this posture allows full engagement of abdominal muscles so you can take a full breath. With continued practice this posture becomes more natural for you through muscle memory and helps you maintain better posture in your daily life.
Improves energy (more oxygen=more energy)
Deep breathing allows more oxygen to get into your body thereby creating a better flow of oxygen through all your organs and blood stream. In addition, deep exhaling releases carbon dioxide from our bodies. This exchange of gases helps improve energy and creates optimal functioning for your organs.
Since deep breathing helps decrease stress and improve energy, it would make sense that it boosts mood too. Deep breathing helps calm the mind in addition to the body, which helps great a greater sense of wellbeing and comfort.
So, now that we know some of the reasons deep breathing can benefit us, let’s learn how to do square breathing to reap these benefits!
How to do Square Breathing
First start by sitting in a quite space that you would feel comfortable enough to close your eyes.
You can sit in a chair or on the ground, as long as you can sit up straight with your spine and neck aligned (this means head looking straight ahead, shoulders back, and abdominal muscles engaged).
Close your eyes and take a minute to quite your thoughts.
Now inhale a deep breath for the count of 4.
Then hold that breath for the count of 4.
Now exhale that breath for the count of 4.
Then hold the exhale for the count of 4.
AND THAT IS IT!
Just 16 seconds to relaxation.
Here is an image of what the process should look like:
You can repeat this cycle of square breathing for as many times as you would like until you feel totally relaxed.
The great thing about square breathing is that 1 cycle only takes 16 seconds to complete and is normally adequate at calming stress in that one cycle.
The goal is to continue the deep breathing until you no longer feel tension in your body and you feel relaxed.
I suggest doing this exercise first thing in the morning to help set the tone on a relaxed note for the day. You’d be surprise just how important morning routines are to your overall health and wellbeing, but I’ll talk more about this soon.
Overtime, with continued practice this deep breathing technique will help you feel more centered and in control of your emotions. You will notice you are able to focus better through the day and complete tasks more efficiently. This is the true power of simple deep breathing.