The Breath of Calm

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF

There are many aspects of the fertility journey that can cause feelings of anxiety. Here is a calming breathing exercise that can bring relief when your thoughts are racing and your breathing feels shallow. Through yoga and breathing practices we learn to feel without reacting. We develop some distance from our thoughts. And we discover that undoing is often more powerful than doing.

Practice it every day if needed.

1.    Lie down comfortably (you may want to use a folded blanket to support your head or place a rolled up blanket behind your knees).

2.    Notice how you feel, physically. Is there a part of your body that feels tense? How is your abdomen? Your shoulders? Your hips? Don’t try to change what you feel. Just notice.

3.    Now, observe your thoughts. Are they racing toward the future? Are they ruminating on the past? Again, don’t try to change anything. Spend a few moments simply observing.

4.    Slowly close your eyes.

5.    Bring your awareness to your breath.

6.    Breathe in and out, gently and evenly, through your nose.

7.    Observe how it feels to bring your awareness to your breath.

8.    Slowly begin to lengthen each breath.

9.    Continue breathing in and out through the nose for a minute or two, allowing the breath to become smooth, even, deep, and effortless.

10. As you breathe, begin to count the natural length of each inhalation and each exhalation.

11. Gently begin to lengthen your exhalations, at first by a count of one.

12. If possible, continue to lengthen your exhalation by one additional count, until your exhalation is twice as long as your inhalation (or as long as feels comfortable, without any forcing or straining).

13. Breathe with this new 1:2 ratio for five minutes.

14. Allow your breath to return to normal.

15. Take a few moments to observe how you feel. What is happening in your body? What is the quality of your thoughts… How have they changed?

* Adapted from: “Yoga for Emotional Balance: simple practices to help relieve anxiety and depression,” by Bo Forbes (Shambhala Publications, 2011)


Natalie Engler, RYT is a National Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher who offers private yoga and small group classes to women at all stages of the fertility process. Her approach synthesizes ongoing studies in Iyengar-influenced and Vinyasa yoga with immersion in Restorative Yoga, which she learned as part of her 200-hour yoga teacher certification with Bo Forbes, PsyD, creator of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics.

Natalie has been an avid yoga practitioner for 20 years and a yoga teacher for six years. Through a dedicated personal practice and experience teaching individuals and groups, Natalie has witnessed the potent effects of Restorative Yoga on a wide range of issues. She is honored to be able to share this practice with women at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health.

In addition teaching yoga, Natalie is a wellness coach and health writer who has written for Harvard Medical International, Reuters Health, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Harvard Health Publications. She has been quoted in the Boston Globe, Yoga Journal, Parents Magazine, and Conceive Magazine.