Triangle Breathing: 5 Easy Steps to Soothe Anxiety

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Meditative breathing is an excellent way to soothe anxiety and reduce stress. Sometimes, just focusing on your breathing and being conscious of the air going in and out of your lungs can have a calming effect on your nerves. 

Studies show that deep breathing exercises can help reduce anxiety and depression in people with a clinical diagnosis and the general population. 

There are several forms of meditative, deep breathing, with Triangle breathing being one of the most popular. This article will explore everything about Triangle breathing as a way to soothe anxiety. It will highlight the following;

  • What Triangle Breathing technique is
  • Research-backed benefits of Triangle Breathing
  • How to perform Triangle Breathing to soothe your anxiety
a woman meditating eyes closed in her room

What Is Triangle Breathing?

Triangle breathing is a deep breathing exercise that involves:

  • breathing in for three seconds
  • holding your breath for three seconds
  • breathing out for another three seconds.

How Triangle Breathing Affects Your Body

The human nervous system is divided into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic system controls how our bodies respond to stress, i.e., the fight or flight responses, while the parasympathetic system controls how our bodies respond to stress by relaxing and resting. 

Deep breathing exercises like Triangle breathing help put the body in a state of calm and relaxation by activating your parasympathetic nervous system.

When you perform Triangle breathing, your body’s natural relaxation response is triggered, suppressing the sympathetic nervous system and ultimately reducing stress and anxiety. 

a woman sitting cross legged on a ourple yoga mat in a living room

5 Benefits Of Triangle Breathing

Regular practice of deep breathing techniques like Triangle breathing has many benefits, from reducing depression and anxiety to improving overall well-being. 

1. Reduces Stress And High Blood Pressure

Deep breathing exercises like triangle breathing help reduce stress and heart rate in hypertensive patients. This 2019 study showed how effective diaphragmatic breathing techniques are in helping reduce physiological and psychological stress.

The results showed an improvement in stress levels, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, and cortisol levels. 

2. Reduces Anxiety And Depression

Studies show a deep connection between human emotions and respiration. Triangle breathing and other deep breathing techniques have been shown to counteract anxiety and depression, even in individuals with a clinical diagnosis.

Today, deep breathing techniques are often used as supplemental or first-line treatments for anxiety and depression. 

3. Keeps The Nervous System Regulated

Triangle breathing and other deep breathing techniques help regulate the nervous system. When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system is activated, and cortisol is released.

Slow and controlled deep breathing grounds you and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress responses and helping you relax. 

a man sitting cross legged and meditating on a carpet in a living room

4. Improves Respiratory Performance

When you perform triangle breathing, you regulate the volume, pace, and intensity of your breathing which engages the diaphragmatic muscle more than usual. Studies show that repeated practice of this technique will boost respiratory performance and efficiency.

Triangle breathing also helps treat respiratory ailments like asthma and congestion and even helps with cigarette withdrawal. 

5. Improves Vitality

Repeated deep breathing exercises like Triangle breathing have been shown to improve brain activity. Studies show that these exercises boost alpha and theta waves in the brain, thereby improving overall vitality and emotional and psychological control in healthy humans. 

Triangle Breathing Vs. 4 Other Deep Breathing Techniques

Most deep breathing exercises achieve the same goals – calming your nerves and reducing anxiety. However, the techniques differ, with some being more intense than others. 

Some other deep breathing techniques are rectangular breathing, sky breathing, star breathing, square breathing, lazy 8 breathing, etc.

These techniques are similar in that they involve deep, conscious breathing; however, they differ based on the inhale-hold-exhale duration.  

a man in a whiten t shirt lying down practicing a breathwork exercise

1. Box Breathing

Triangle breathing is often used as a starting point to progress towards box breathing, another deep, meditative breathing technique; however, the techniques differ. Box breathing, or Sama Vritti, involves:

  • Inhaling for five seconds.
  • Holding your breath for the next five seconds.
  • Exhaling for another five seconds, and, lastly.
  • Holding your breath for another five seconds.

You picture a box in this technique, hence its name. 

2. Rectangular Breathing

Rectangular breathing is one of the easiest diaphragmatic breathing exercises. Instead of picturing a triangle like in Triangle Breathing, you picture a rectangle. 

How to Perform: 

  • Picture a rectangle. 
  • Starting at the bottom left corner, breathe in counts of three as you go up. 
  • Slowly exhale as you move across the top of the rectangle. 
  • Inhale again as you go down the right side of the rectangle
  • Exhale at the bottom until you’re right back at the starting point. 
  • Repeat for about three cycles until you feel calm. 

Rectangular breathing is a great calming technique during breathlessness or panic attacks.

a man practicing triangle breathing in a park

3. 4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 breathing is more intense than Triangle breathing. This technique involves inhaling for four counts, holding your breath for seven counts, and exhaling for 8 counts. Repeat the cycle as necessary until you feel less anxious. 

If you’re battling insomnia or wake up multiple times during the night, this breathing exercise works great at putting you back to sleep. 4-7-8 breathing is a common calming technique for anxiety and panic attacks. 

4. Lazy 8 Breathing

Lazy 8 breathing is very easy to perform. This technique involves picturing or tracing an ‘8’ and using the pattern to guide your breathing. 

How to perform:

  • Write out the number ‘8’ on paper and draw a star at the center.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply as you trace your finger from the star toward the left side.
  • Exhale slowly as you trace your finger back toward the star.
  • Repeat for as many cycles as necessary until you feel calm. 

Focusing on the ‘8’ in this technique distracts you from whatever is causing your anxiety or stress. The deep breathing calms your nerves and relieves anxiety. 

three people meditating outside

5 steps to Practice Triangle Breathing

Follow these 5 simple steps to practice triangle breathing:

Step 1: Find a quiet and comfortable spot where you can be alone without distractions and sit in a comfortable position, such as Easy pose, Hero pose or Lotus pose.

Relax your shoulders, relax your jaw, and root your feet tp the ground. This will release some physical tension and help you relax during the exercise. Now take a few natural breaths (as a warm-up) and get ready to begin. 

Step 2: Visualize an upside-down triangle (horizontal base on top). Hold on to this picture, as it will help guide you through the exercise.

Step 3: Take a deep breath in for three seconds. Imagine yourself going up one side of the triangle as you count up to three. 

Step 4: Hold your breath for three seconds. Imagine yourself on the flat upper end of the inverted triangle and count up to three. 

Step 5: Breathe out or exhale for three seconds. Now, picture going down the other side of the triangle as you count up to three. 

That’s it! Continue tracing your triangle with your breath for at least 7-8 more rounds to fully ground and center yourself, or until you notice you’re feeling more calm.

For beginners, the 3:3:3 inhale-hold-exhale ratio works well. However, as you keep practicing, you can increase to a 4:4:4 ratio or higher. You may wish to practice Triangle Breathing for 5-15 minutes, slowly lengthening the duration of your practice.

a woman sitting cross legged on a yoga mat with a hand on her belly and one on her chest

6 Best Practices / Tips For Practicing Triangle Breathing

Triangle breathing is one of the easiest diaphragmatic breathing exercises out there. However, if you have never tried it, here are some tips to help you get the best results. 

  1. Be comfortable: try to wear comfortable clothes and sit comfortably. This means having a tight belt on is probably not the best attire for Triangle breathing. Ensure you’re in a position you can maintain until the end of the exercise, as switching positions in-between cycles may make you lose your flow.  
  2. Practice before meals: sometimes, food can exert some pressure on your diaphragm and lungs. It can be difficult to breathe deeply, especially after heavy meals. For best results, practice Triangle breathing before meals. 
  3. Breathe through the nose: Triangle breathing works best when you inhale and exhale through the nose. However, if you have any sort of blockage in your nose, you can open your mouth slightly for better ventilation. 
  4. Practice consistently at the same time: You can set a regular time when you can practice Triangle breathing without distractions. This exercise works best when you’re 100% focused. 
  5. Be careful: Don’t practice Triangle breathing if you feel bad. If you’re sick, just recovering, or feel discomfort during the exercise, stop immediately and try again when you feel better. 
  6. Seek expert advice: Be sure to talk to your health expert before practicing Triangle breathing if you have any medical conditions. Conditions could range from pregnancy to chest or cardiac issues. 

Lastly, you may experience sensations such as feet tingling, itchiness, heaviness, or cold during Triangle breathing. These sensations are normal, and there’s no need to worry.


Triangle Breathing is a simple, and beginner-friendly breathing technique that can effectively reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, which you can easily perform anywhere without instruments or tools.

If you’re having a stressful day in the office or at home, try some Triangle breathing to ground yourself and see how it can calm your nerves and improve productivity for the rest of the day. 

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Wenlin is a Women’s Well-being Coach, Qigong and Yoga specialist for women and Red School Menstruality Mentor who is passionate about empowering working women to overcome overwhelm to find flow, ease and joy in their life. Wenlin brings with her over 15 years experience working at the intersection of mindfulness, creativity, psychology and wellness, with over 3,000 hours of training and 8 years of experience supporting women across Asia, Europe and the USA. If you want to learn how to find more flow and ease in your life, Wenlin is here to support you.

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