Breathing, Form, & Posture

Never underestimate the power of intentional breath and posture.

Oxygen is fuel for the muscles. The more oxygen your muscles receive, the less fatigued they become, increasing your chances of gaining flexibility.

Oxygen is not only fuel for our muscles but also for our brains. Mental power is essential for muscle control, balance, coordination, and maintaining proper posture and form.

When I began paying attention to my habits, I often found myself taking shallow breaths or even holding my breath. These habits, at the very least, made me feel tired, gave me headaches, and hindered my performance.

Deep, intentional breathing is crucial for many reasons. One of the main goals of stretching should be to get in tune with your body. Controlling your muscles on a whole new level is possible with the right tools, and deep breathing is one of the most important tools you have. Use it.

My advice, whether you’re a beginner or advanced, is to start by focusing on your breath throughout your stretching routines. Once you master your breathing, you’ll find holding stretches much easier.

You can practice your breath while working, cooking, eating, running, walking, stretching, lying down, or when you’re stressed. Focus on your breath everywhere and make it a habit to always return to it. You’ll feel the difference.

Deep Belly Breaths

Deep Belly Breath

  1. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  2. Breath into the stomach, try to keep your chest still.

Deep 3 Second Breaths

deep 3 second breath

  1. Take a deep 3 second inhale through the nose, and extend upwards, elongating the spine.
  2. Exhale slowly through the mouth, and relax.

Short 1 Second Breaths

1 second breath exercise

  1. Take a deep 1 second inhale through the nose, and extend upwards, elongating the spine.
  2. Exhale through the mouth, and relax.

Cyclic Form/Posture Thought Patterns

Good form is key because we’re building muscle memory. You don’t want your muscles to remember bad form. Muscles hold your body in place; some will be contracted and some relaxed in all positions. Even just standing with good posture requires muscle memory.

To check if you’re using good form you’ll need any of the following:

  • A mirror
  • A video camera
  • A coach; the best option

Not many people start with amazing form; it takes time and patience to learn what good form feels like. The smallest things can be out of alignment and make a significant difference.

You’ll have to cycle through the steps below a couple of times because once you shift your attention to another area, the previous area tends to slip out of position.

Once you achieve proper position, you’ll need to learn how to hold your muscles in that position while breathing deeply and steadily.

Incorporate these activities within your stretching routine, in all movements and positions.

Simple Kneeling/Sitting Posture Check

Kneeling Posture Check

  1. Breath deep and steady.
  2. Elongate spine; neck extends upwards.
  3. Push chin back; base of head shifts back, chin slightly up.
  4. Shoulders back; engage upper back.
  5. Shoulders down.
  6. Core engaged (abs and lower back).
  7. Butt tucked under.
  8. Sitting/kneeling tall in hip flexors, hinging from the hips, not the upper back.
  9. Repeat 1-9 as needed.
  10. Once proper posture is achieved,
    1. Hold position, squeeze muscles, and take a few deep 3 second breaths.
    2. Relax major muscles on the exhale, trying to keep posture tall.

Repeat throughout your entire stretching routine.


Repeat throughout life.

No, seriously, I have to check myself constantly, or I’ll slip into poor posture. I check myself when I’m lying down, sitting up, standing up, upside down, standing in line, cooking, cleaning, driving—wherever and whenever.

I start by extending my entire body upwards, making minor adjustments from my neck and shoulders, working my way down to my toes, and then back up to my neck for about five cycles.

I have to remind myself to breathe, engage, and relax certain muscles to hold the new posture. There’s a lot to think about and feel, but the more you practice mindful breathing and alignment, the more second nature it will become!

Simple Standing Posture Check

Standing Posture Check

  1. Breath deep and steady.
  2. Stand up tall from the hips, neck extending upwards.
  3. Butt tucked under.
  4. Engage leg and core muscles; hips stacked over ankles.
  5. Shoulders back; engage upper back.
  6. Shoulders down.
  7. Repeat 1-7 as needed.
  8. Once proper posture is achieved,
    1. Hold position, squeeze muscles, and take a few deep 3 second breaths.
    2. Relax major muscles on the exhale, trying to keep posture tall.

But wait there’s more….

If I were doing splits or even just lying down, there would be more details to consider, such as legs extended and engaged, toes pointed, and avoiding sickle toes (toes pointing inward).

To maintain good natural/resting posture, you need to build your muscles with good posture. You’ll certainly gain strength from the dynamic stretching routines, so it’s crucial to cycle through good posture and form points during your stretching routine.

For the first couple of weeks, watch yourself when making these form corrections. If you don’t know what good posture feels like, you need to connect with that feeling. Once you recognize what good posture feels like, you can enter a more meditative state, sensing the corrections rather than thinking about them. I like to close my eyes to focus solely on my body.

I started with really bad posture and have had to focus a lot on correcting it. I’m still not perfect and probably never will be, but I’m putting in the effort.

Be kind to yourself and remember this is a journey. We all slip out of alignment from time to time, but as long as you know how to correct yourself, you’re on the right path!

I hope you will incorporate these exercises into all areas of your life and realize the power of breath and posture and their effects on the mind, body, and spirit.

Happy Breathing!

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7 years ago

Very Nice Amanda! Happy to see another Yogi handle the scene thoroughly. I love what u have done here deeply!

7 years ago

I love how much you’ve added to these routines since the last time I checked in. This is an amazing resource! Thank you 🙂