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Breathing Buddies – The Buddy System

Structured breath work has become very popular and we have choice when it comes to learning different techniques. For simplicity I will share with you Box Breathing. It is easy to learn while very uncomplicated to do in most situations. When you are feeling the effects from stress and anxiety, focusing on your breath will help you calm and center yourself.

In a study at Stanford University, Box Breathing was proven very effective at increasing mood and reducing anxiety as well as physical arousal (respiration rate and heart rate). It increases oxygen to the lungs and helps with blood pressure. Psychological, it helps you focus attention away from what is causing you to feel stress and anxiety and the rhythmic repetition is soothing while the physical act of holding your nose (called pranayama mudra) stimulates a relax and I am safe response in your brain. If you make it a regular practice, it will improve your mood and help you manage your emotions. It is most effective to do this breathing practice seated and preferably not while driving (pull over if you have too!). It is a down regulating breathing exercise for deep relaxation, and it will become a valuable tool in your tool kit for trigger management.

Basic instruction:

Box Breathing or 4:4:4:4 breathing.

o Inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4, hold for 4, repeat.

o Breathing in and out through your nose.

o Back straight, seated upright so you can fill your lungs from the belly up with ease.

o Chin is a right angle to the floor.

o You can close eyes or soften your gaze.o Imagine you are breathing around a box.

o Inhale for 4 counts up the left-hand side of the box.

o Hold along the top of the box for 4 counts.o Exhale 4 counts down the right side of the box.

o Hold along the bottom of the box for 4 counts.

o Start again!o Breath around the box 5 to 10 times, repeat for 3 sessions or until feeling calm.


o Use pranayama mudra to help stimulate that “I am safe and relaxed” response.

o Pranayama mudra is – holding your nostrils closed with your thumb and ring finger.

o Fold your index and middle finger down to your palm center. Place thumb and ring finger on your noseo Effectively, you are holding your nose and not your breath! This visual helps if the idea of holding your breath causes you anxiety!

Let’s begin:

1. Inhale 1,2,3,4, close both nostrils (pranayama mudra)

2. Hold 1,2,3,4, release.

3. Exhale 4,3,2,1, close both nostrils (pranayama mudra)

4. Hold 4,3,2,1, release.

5. Repeat for 5 to 10 time for 3 sessions.

Take a moment to practice this or find something online you love. If you would like proper tuition, I am a breathing coach and I do online sessions. Share which breathing technique you would like your Buddy to do with you when you call for support. Buddies that breathe together, stay together!

Blog post written for the sobriety community within Best Life - Sobriety through connection and featured in the Mindfulness and Meditation Group within the App. Download the app here: 

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