Squared Breathing


Have you tried squared breathing?
Inhale, two, three, four, hold, two, three, four, exhale, two, three,
four, hold two, three four.

Simple, but it’ll change your life.

In the foreword to The Yoga of Breath by Richard Rosen, Rodney Yee writes that pranayama, or breath work, is the one
component of his yoga practice that he has not missed for 15 years. He says it is more precious to him than asanas or meditation.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic,
squared breathing teaches me everything I need to know about myself
each day.

Here’s how it goes:

  1. The Inhale. For some reason, I
    gulp and grasp air during the inhale, filling myself in the first
    two counts, pushing and yanking the entire universe for the last two
    counts. This improves slightly with each cycle. Perhaps not
    coincidentally, I eat the same way, talk the same way, and treat
    money and some relationships the same way. It’s possible there is
    something to learn here.

  2. The Hold. I love this part.
    Except for gagging a bit when tense, I’m most content when I’m
    full of air. Same with food, talk, money, and relationships.

  3. The Exhale. The first two counts
    of the exhalation are heaven, a release of enormous pressure.
    During the last two counts, panic begins with the realization that
    everything is leaving me, and I’ll die if this letting go
    continues. I’m once again unhappy to note an uncanny similarity
    with food, talk, money, and relationships.

  4. The Hold. This one is agony.
    It feels as though I’m six years old again and
    Larry Aitkenhead (sorry, Larry) is holding my head under the water
    in the pool. I’ll die if this goes on. I feel the same way every
    night before dinner is ready (how much longer? No, I’m not hungry,
    I just want to eat), at every social occasion (hi, how are you?
    What’s new? Can I go yet?), whenever my loved ones are unhappy
    with me, and whenever I feel short of money (which, in my
    experience, has absolutely nothing to do with how much money I
    actually have).

  5. Inhale, and begin again.

This is not as awful as it sounds.
Within 60 seconds, squared breathing hands me my life’s work on a
platter. Within five minutes, my practice softens my resistance to
every one of these issues, even to Larry Aitkenhead, who probably has
issues of his own and doesn’t need my continued judgment. By the
time I finish my pranayama for the morning, there is room for joy in
this body and mind.

I hope you’ll try this breathing, or
share your experience with it.

Thanks to breath for being there all
day long (so far) and for teaching so much. Thanks to you for the


Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the
and on
and on

This entry was posted in exhalation, inhalation, pranayama, richardrosen, rodneyyee, squaredbreathing, Yoga and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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