The Benefits of Box Breathing

What is Box Breathing?

How do you describe box breathing?
Box breathing is a very simple exercise to calm the nervous system and stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the nerve directly from the brain that stimulates relaxation in the body and increases digestive function and repair and recovery of tissues. It’s the “rest and digest” nerve. If a T-rex suddenly comes running after us, our bodies have a built-in “fight or flight” response for survival. We either run from it or stand and fight it. This response can save our lives! It pumps more blood to the muscles, produces cortisol to release needed blood sugar for energy, increases blood clotting, and many other “survive at all cost” responses. Essential if we’re in battle. But deadly if we maintain it long term when there’s no threat. Over time it destroys our mental and physical health. Prolonged stress kills! The first thing our fight or flight response does when it encounters a threat is speeds up breathing. This is one of the primary ways it stimulates the body to begin the cascade of events for short-term survival at the cost of long-term health. If the T-rex eats you, it doesn’t matter that you have too much cortisol for long-term health! So the way we’re going to improve that long-term health is by putting our body in that vagus-nerve-dominated, relaxed state. The best news is that the solution is literally right under (and inside) our noses!!! Box breathing is a very simple technique to put our body in that R-E-L-A-X-E-D state!
How often should you do Box breathing?
Ideally, box breathing should be done on a regular basis. Programming it into your daily routine 2-3 times per day for even just a couple of minutes can make a huge difference in your health and in the way you feel! Also, whenever you feel stressed, do just a couple of rounds of box breathing and watch a lot of tension melt away. Like is often said about prayer, it won’t always change things for you but it will change YOU for THINGS! You may still be facing that deadline, or traffic, or worrying about what someone said about you, but you can face it with a relaxed nervous system!
Is Box breathing good for anxiety?
Box breathing is one of the best tools for anxiety there is! And it’s so simple to do, takes very little time, and it’s free!
Can box breathing strengthen my lungs?
Box breathing does strengthen your lungs, improve general breathing, and is healthy for your spine as well.
Why is Box breathing called Box breathing?
It’s called box breathing because the inhalation—hold—exhalation—hold pattern is illustrated in the form of a square, or box. Inhalation is drawn as a vertical line, holding the breath in is a horizontal line to the right, exhalation vertical back down, then holding the breath out is horizontal back to the left, making a square!


Hey guys, welcome to my Secret Volcano Lair, to quote Austin Powers. Actually, that's not Austin Powers, that's Dr. Evil, but that is Austin Powers talking about Dr. Evil in his Secret Volcano Lair. But I have now made myself confused and talked too much about a movie that's really irrelevant to what we're talking about, except this is relaxation week. And one great way to relax is by watching hilarious movies, like all three Austin Powers movies. I recommend you watch those again because they are brilliant, and you don't have to worry and stress so much about the plot because they're actually very simple. But this is relaxation week, so I'm gonna teach you the most valuable relaxation tool that I know.

And it is entirely free. You can do it any time, it takes very, very little time out of your day, and it is extraordinarily powerful. The trouble is just getting people to do it. So it's like in Shrek where... What is it? I'm rehearsing in my mind. I wasn't... Didn't think I was going to talk about Shrek, but where... Oh yeah, Shrek says, "Oh, they say the donkey can talk." And Shrek goes that, "Yes, he can talk. It's getting him to shut up. That's the trick." So that's like me. It's getting me to shut up. That's the trick. But I digress because we're here to talk about the most powerful technique you can use today during relaxation week on any day, and I hope for the rest of your life, it's getting you to do it. That's the trick. And the simple technique is breathing.

The way you breathe is incredibly powerful and influences your mood and your stress level extraordinarily. Think about it for a moment. Let's talk about the physiology of breathing. If a T-rex crashed through that wall right now and is intent on eating Christine and me, Christine's filming right now, intended on eating us, we're... Our nervous system is going to change instantaneously to be able to... It's what we call fight or flight. As you may know, the sympathetic nervous system, we're either going to stand and fight or, more likely, Christine's going to get up and fight the thing. Well, I run away. But anyway, so we're going to prepare to fight it or run away from it, so our first response when something like that happens is a quick breath followed by, we're going to speed up our breathing rate because that's going to increase our adrenaline, it's going to increase our cortisol, which helps mobilize blood sugars, all the things that are geared toward fighting or running away, an incredibly important creation by God to help us survive.

It's also, by the way, going to help us if I do get a cut or a bite or something. It's going to help my blood clot faster, all these things that are absolutely essential for survival in an emergency. When is that a problem? Well, it's a problem when we act like there's a T-rex there, but there's no T-rex there, so remember that the first physiologic adaptation to any fear, it can be a perceived fear or... Think about something totally different. You're driving along in your car, and you might be going over the speed, but maybe you're not paying much attention, and all of a sudden in your rearview mirror, you see, you see, and you hear a siren, and it's a cop, and they're right behind you immediately.

And your breathing rate starts to increase, and you're stressed out, you're in fear because you think you're going to get a ticket, and you probably deserve it, let's face it. You were going like 80. I was in the back seat. But in any case, you bring fear and your breathing is going to change very rapidly, or what about just you feel overwhelmed, you have too many tasks, you have more to do in a day, then you feel like your kids need this or your parents need this, or your teammates need this or whatever. You're stressed out, we're often so stressed out that modern demands or TikTok, you gotta watch 60 TikToks before you can... I don't know, go swimming or do whatever you're going to do, but think about it, we put too much pressure on ourselves, there's too much in a day. So how can we... We're not going to be able to necessarily change our day. Like it's been said that you can't necessarily change the direction of the wind, but you can change the direction of your sails, so you really should change the direction of your own internal sails in your nervous system to respond to these same stresses, one person has the same levels of stress and tasks and everything... Is massively stressed out and on their last nerve, and the other person gets twice as much done, maybe, but they're relaxed.

So the most powerful way that I know, and over the last 27 years of coaching, actually more like 31 years of coaching people on health of some sort, breathing is incredibly powerful. So in one hand, if we're totally stressed out, we have to live, we have to fight or run away from this thing, quick breathing, so that's an adaptative response, a life-saving response, but on the other hand, we can actually do the exact opposite. So when we feel that stress and our... We're breathing steadily quickly, even though there's no immediate threat, it feels like a threat that we have more to do than we think we can do, we can change our physiology by implementing a breathing technique. I said a lot about that.

But it's hard to get people to actually implement this until they kind of understand why, so we're going to do a very, very simple breathing technique now, normal, healthy day-to-day breathing when there isn't a T-rex about to eat us, is very, very slow. Very, very deep. It's through the nose and is diaphragmatic. What I mean is this, we use our diaphragm, our main breathing muscle sits right beneath our lungs, and when we breathe in, the diaphragm should come down, when we breathe out, the diaphragm should come up and expel all that air, the deeper we breathe, the more we get oxygen into our capillary-rich beds of blood vessels down to the base of our lungs, the oxygen should reach all the way down there, that really oxygenates and brings life to our body when we breathe in deep.

So when that happens, my stomach should pop out as I breathe in and pop back in as I breathe out, if we're just chest-breathing, the oxygen does not reach our blood-rich, our capillary rich bottom part of our lungs, and we're gonna create more fight or flight. See, even as I'm talking on this video, it's a little nerve-wracking to do a video, but even as just as I'm implementing that breathing, I'm becoming more and more relaxed, it is so powerful and there's one... There's a million breath exercises, my personal favorite is called box breathing, and all you have to do is breathe in to the count of five seconds, hold your breath in for the count of five seconds, breathe out for a count of five seconds and hold out for a count of five seconds. Now, some, when they're first doing this, they can't do a whole five seconds, it's no big deal, so go three or four seconds, but try to increase it over time, so we're all gonna do this for a few rounds, so we're gonna sit up real straight, have our posture good. That allows our nervous system be in a relaxed state, allows our maximum expansion of our lungs, we're gonna breathe in for a count of five seconds, hold in for a count of five seconds, breathe out for a count of five seconds and hold out for a count of five seconds.

Sit up real straight, shoulders back and down. Christine participates with us. Breathe all the way out. So breathe in. Hold in for a count of five seconds. Breathe out. Hold out a count of five seconds. Breathe in, and let that stomach expand. Hold in for five seconds. Breathe out, hold out, breathe in. And as you keep going in that pattern, you may notice that you actually hear my breath, that's what in yoga they call Ujjayi breathing, which stands for means victory in Sanskrit, and it means that we're slightly constricting the back of our throat so that we actually hear our breath like you'd fog a mirror, so try that slight throat constriction hold in. Breathe out. It really is as simple as that. And if you did that with me, you already feel more relaxed as I do even in the making of this video. Do that three, four, five times a day. We have these smartphones that we go to to look at our social media and all these things that drive us further up that stress ladder, have it remind you three, four, five times a day to do two or three minutes of box breathing. I promise it will do more for you during relaxation week than 20 trips to Hawaii, and I recommend that you go to Hawaii, but take a vacation, a staycation while you're at home, every day with your own breath and your own nervous system, so I hope that helps.

God bless you. Have an amazing day.

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