On Wednesday,  I talked about how we can be free from chronic discomfort caused by bad postural habits. Posture is not static, it’s always moving, adjusting, shifting. Given that the body is also constantly renewing itself, we are gifted countless opportunities in each moment to choose the future state of our posture and our health.

In the video below, Yoga Tune Up® founder Jill Miller instructs the Contract and Relax breathing technique. This breathing technique stabilizes your spine from all directions: from front to back and side to side, and can even provide some relief for lower back pain. Give it a go, and when you feel comfortable take it on the road! The Contract and Relax breath is safe to do regardless of the direction your spine is moving. That means when you’re folding forwards, bending backwards, or flexing/extending side to side, you can stabilize your spine with your breath.


Enjoyed this article? Read Good Posture: Do You Have It?

Dawn Mauricio

Dawn is a yoga and meditation teacher with a playful, dynamic, and centered approach. She is known for her effective balance of clear, precise instruction and mental reflection. She first began practicing yoga in 2000 as a purely physical discipline. After she completed her first silent meditation retreat at a Thai monastery, her interest in the mind and body deepened. She began to experience how yoga and meditation mutually support each other, leading her to approach the world with awareness and kindness as a gateway to wisdom. Since 2006, Dawn has received teaching certifications from Spirit Rock Meditation Centre, True North Insight, Naada Yoga, and in the Yoga Tune Up method. She also continues to attend silent meditation retreats in Burma, Thailand, Canada and the US, and to study with senior teachers in both yoga and meditation. Dawn firmly believes that how we offer ourselves in practice reflects how we offer ourselves in life, inspiring her to find new ways to extend her practice beyond the yoga mat and meditation cushion - and encourages her students to do the same.

Leave a Reply

16 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
15 Comment authors
Marta Hanrahan

Thank you I just tried this! Love it!

Leanne W.

Being aware of your breath – paying attention to the inhales and exhales – allows us to turn off autopilot and become present. The Contract and Relax breathing technique is a great tool to bring me into the present moment!

Catherine RL

I love the power of the breath. So many underestimate its ability to heal, reduce stress and strain. I learned the importance when I first became diagnosed with Asthma and was taught to control my attacks with my breath (never seem to have a puffer on me). To this day I encourage others to focus on their breath.
I really enjoyed your video – something new to try.

Brittany Brie

In Pilates, I teach breathing where the belly and ribs expand on the inhale and then the muscles contract on the exhale. I prepare the abdominals to contract for movement. 

I’ve never heard of this technique where you inhale: contract and hold, then RELEASE on the exhale. Maybe this is something I should be playing around with when teaching.

Sophie Desmarais

Very beautiful statement on how our body is constantly renewing itself and how we are gifted countless opportunities to choose the future state of our posture and our health. This definitely puts perspective on health and gives hope for those who may feel as though they are “stuck” in their bad postural habits.

Karen Stillman

How wonderful to see more discussion on the breath. It is vital to our existence. It is tragic how many take it for granted. And another tool for the box! Thanks.


If only people knew the power we have to heal our own bodies. Learning new ways to connect with ourselves through merely breath work can definitely lead to miracles. “It is a matter of choosing our future state of our health.” I love this exercise because of its simplicity and results. Thank you Dawn for sharing 😉

Beth Giorgi

I am so amazed that our body is so connected on the inside that our breathing quality can actually create or diffuse back pain!

Beth Giorgi

I find it amazing to think of how incredibly connected we are inside of our bodies that our breathing quality can create or diffuse back pain!


two things i LOVE about this: learning something new about breathing and this line in the post: we are gifted countless opportunities in each moment to choose the future state of our posture and our health.

Annaliese Godderz

“How you do one thing is how you do everything.” I love the concept of taking yoga out of the classroom and brining it into everyday life. Try holding tubular core all day, try maintaining your posture, think about how you hold your body all day everyday. It makes a huge difference. Thank you!


Thanks Dawn this is a great explanation of the contract and relax breathing technique.I love using this with my roll routine, but given I have a lot of sensitivity in my back from a car accident I like to take it to the wall and still get all the same benefits but decrease the pressure so I’m getting “good pain”

Johanne Leroux

J’ajouterais que depuis que j’applique cette technique (Coregous ball + contract & relax breathing) à la pratique d’un de mes hobbies, le chant. En plus, comme vous le dites si bien, de stabiliser la colonne vertébrale dans toutes les directions, cette pratique m’a permis de développer un plus grand potentiel respiratoire et une plus grande proprioception du mouvement du diaphragme.

Megan Wylde

Would this be “technically” a contractive kumbaca? And could it be used the same way sans air (end of exhale)? I suppose one version of a contractive or even expansive kumbaca would be uddihyana!

Any thoughts?


Thanks for sharing this great break down of the contract and relax breathing technique. This technique is so helpful for me when using the ball(s) on neglected or over used muscles. Initially I tend to brace the muscle as a protective response, but this breathing technique allows me to fully relax the muscle into the ball, enabling me to fully embrace the benefit of the ball work.

James Chritton

This is awesome, I going to start incorporating this into my roll out routine. Thank you