Did you know that the Navy Seals use a form of breathwork called Box Breathing to stay calm in moments of crisis? In yoga, we call breathwork pranayama. “Prana” means life force, “Yama” means control, and “Ayama” means extension or expansion. Therefore, “pranayama” means methods to extend and expand life force energy through the deliberate control of the breath.
This breathwork practice regulates our nervous system, activating the parasympathetic nervous system that takes us out of the “fight or flight” stress response (sympathetic nervous system) and into the “rest and digest” calming response. It reduces stress, focuses the mind, and improves our overall health. The beautiful part is that you feel the effects instantaneously.
The concept is simple. Close your eyes, and breathe in deeply for a count of 4. Then hold your breath for a count of 4. Next, exhale for a count of 4. Hold the breath (while empty) for a count of 4. Repeat the cycle for a few minutes. Then, if inspired, you can play around with extending the breath count to 5 or 6.
Give this Box Breathing video a try the next time you feel anxious or stressed! It’s an excellent tool for your self-care toolbox.