Calm the mind through the practice of restorative yoga and conscious breathing.

Every single restorative yoga pose is like a little boat floating on calm waters. 

We live in a world of constant stimulation. Our senses are repeatedly bombarded with information, noise, lights, opinions. Just by opening our phone we suddenly have the whole world in front of us pushing its news, facts, and so-called truths into our awareness. Our mind immediately starts to process all this data and create its own stories and beliefs. We can easily lose ourselves in the flood of information without knowing anymore what thoughts are truly ours and what thoughts have been implanted into our minds by others. This creates confusion and separates us from our true selves.

In order not to become externally referential and lose ourselves, it is important to learn how to attain an internal frame of reference so that we can let our true nature blossom. If we live only from the mind, our true self will wither. But if we let our inner wisdom blossom, we can train the mind to be a loyal servant.

Take a habit of practicing meditation, conscious breathing, and restorative yoga poses daily so that you can shift from living from the mind to living from the heart.

“We are not our thoughts, but the thinker having the thoughts.”

Aadil Palkhivala

Oftentimes it’s in the evenings right before going to bed when all these thoughts start running through our minds making it difficult for us to fall asleep. We might experience our minds being more active and we can feel that it’s difficult to switch off the thoughts. Taking a habit of dedicating 15-30 minutes each evening before going to bed to practice restorative yoga and breathing is a great way to quiet the mind and soothe the nervous system. It will not only help you to fall asleep faster and sleep better but also strengthen the connection to your intuition. It’s a way to become more of who you truly are.

My favorite evening routine is to practice Viparita Karani, Balasana, and 1:2 breath. This little routine takes me about 20 minutes and it gently carries me into the lalaland in no time! Read until the end where I share how to practice the 1:2 breath.

Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall pose)

Nothing prepares the body & mind better for a good night’s sleep than a few restorative yoga poses right before going to bed. Viparita Karani is definitely one of the best ones to calm the nerves and set you off for a peaceful night.

It removes tension in the brain,
relaxes the eyes,
releases tension in the diaphragm,
and frees the legs.

After resting and breathing deeply in this pose for 5-10 minutes (or more) one can truly feel the quietness in the mind, freedom of the breath, and deep relaxation in the whole body.

The supported version of Balasana (the child’s pose) is done by lying on a bolster (belly and chest supported by the bolster) and with a pad under the forehead.

Balasana is a great pose for introspection because it calms the frontal brain, the part where our thinking mind is located. Releasing the frontal brain downwards quiets the mind, allowing you to go inside. Inhale to connect with your heart center and exhale to consciously let go of your thoughts.


The purpose of this kind of breathing is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system with the help of a long exhalation. The longer the exhalation the calmer you will become and the calmer you are the easier it is for you to fall asleep. The most simple way to bring yourself into a state of calmness is to lengthen the exhalation. It’s so very simple.

It’s a bit like counting the sheeps but more effective. Instead of just counting the sheeps, you count the length of your in -and exhalation with an aim to make the exhalation longer. The counting keeps the mind focused on the breath and the long exhalation activates the parasympathetic nervous system which brings your whole being into a state of relaxation.

Take a comfortable supine (lying on your back) position in your bed, close your eyes, and allow your whole body to sink down. First, just feel your breath flowing in and out through the nostrils and allow the breath to be smooth to increase the sympathetic response. Now, inhale counting until two and exhale counting until four. You can increase or decrease the number of the counts depending on your individual length of breath. Important is that you count the breaths and that the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation. Continue breathing in this way until you feel tired and ready to sleep. You might also fall asleep without even realizing it 😉

Enjoy a peaceful sleep until the sun rises again the next day.

If at any point the breath becomes harsh or just simply uncomfortable then please get back to your normal breathing. There should never be any force and the breath should flow smoothly and easily in and out through the nostrils.

To learn, experience, and better understand these and many other yoga poses join one of my group yoga classes in the Thalwil area or book a 1:1 session (in person or online) where we can dive deeper into your specific needs. Let’s get you on the mat!


Is an overactive mind, stress, or aches in the body preventing you to have a good quality sleep?

Mental centring meditation technique from Heartfull Meditation created by Savitri is the most powerful technique I know to calm and center the mind.

I’m a mother of two young children, a yoga teacher, an entrepreneur, and a wife who’s daily life oftentimes is rather busy and hectic. I used to sleep very badly mostly because of stress and constant thoughts and worries running through my mind day in day out. It was only until I started to intensively study and practice yoga asana, meditation, and breathing that I managed to calm my brain and my nervous system before going to bed. This made a huge difference in my sleep quality! 

A few years ago, I decided to make a change in my evening routine. I promised myself to put sleep at the top of my priority list simply because I was tired of feeling tired and needing caffeine to keep me going through the day. The biggest and most powerful change was to make the last hour before going to bed as peaceful and pleasant as possible (with small kids this is sometimes easier said than done but we do our best and accept the rest).

Rest and sleep is underrated in our modern society that idolises multitasking, being productive 24/7, and working long hours.

This meant ditching all the distracting things (like browsing the internet, snacking, tv, etc.) and switching them into calming things like a warm shower, oil massage, restorative yoga & stretching, breathing exercises, meditation, and reading a book.

Most of our waking hours we spend by living from the mind. We think, analyze, calculate, communicate, and do most of our daily tasks using the power of the mind. Our minds are constantly active and working towards something or are clinging to something belonging in the past. If we don’t give our minds the chance to rest and recharge we get into trouble. If we let our mind keep running an eternal marathon, it will eventually burn out leaving us lying scattered, paralyzed, and breathless along our journey of life.

When bedtime’s approaching we should avoid strong stimulation and instead, support our nervous system to switch from the fight or flight mode (sympathetic mode) into the rest & digest mode (parasympathetic mode). And here’s where yoga, meditation, and breathing become very helpful tools. In yoga, we have something that will create a response of calmness.

“Every sunset is an opportunity to reset.” –Richie Norton

For us to sleep better, our bodies need to settle into a parasympathetic mode where rest and healing can happen. Oftentimes, especially after a busy day, our minds are racing, our breath is fast and shallow, and we might experience aches and pains in the body which can all disturb our sleep.

We need to free our minds from the constant chatter so that we can easily fall asleep and our brain can reset itself during the night. Releasing physical tension, calming the mind, and freeing the breath brings our whole being in a parasympathetic mode and prepares us for a restful night. 

I have created an ONLINE class called ‘Yoga for a good night’s sleep’ that is designed specifically to wind down after an active day. During this 45 minutes class, we will meditate to bring calmness to the mind, learn to breathe fully and deeply, and release bodily tension through specific yoga poses. Especial attention is given to the hips, legs, and spine. This class is suitable for all levels of yogis from complete beginners to more advanced students. The first class is on the 21st of December and as a Christmas present to You, I offer the first class for FREE! Just send me a message if you would like to join and I will send you a Zoom link to join the class. You will learn a powerful yet simple and easy meditation technique to calm your mind, one breathing technique that has the power to take you into the lalaland in no time, and simple stretches and restorative yoga poses to free the body from physical discomfort.

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
― Mahatma Gandhi


Pranayama is an essential part of yoga and there are probably as many pranayama techniques as there are different styles of yoga. What we have to remember in pregnancy is that not all breathing techniques are suitable for expectant mothers. Any pranayama that includes forced exhalation, or controlled retentions beyond the natural rhythm of the breath, are not suitable practices in pregnancy or the postnatal period. These techniques lock the pelvic diaphragm, making the pelvic floor muscles tense. This is counterproductive when it comes to childbirth. In labour, the mother needs to be able to relax the pelvic floor muscles, so that she could deliver the baby to this world by using a minimal amount of pushing and shoving.

Adopting the full and deep breath

Feeling the breath at the back of the lungs.

The most important advice regarding breathing is to “go with the flow”. Whatever the pranayama technique is being used, the most important thing she should feel is the easy flow of her breath. There should be no holding or gasping of the breath. A pregnant woman who has no previous experience on pranayama should start the practice from the basics. Good practices for a pranayama novice involve the simple observation of the natural rhythmic cycle of the breath, and becoming aware of how the breath flows in and out through the nostrils.

It is Important to familiarize yourself with your own breath, and learn to feel when the breath is full and when it is not, and the effects of full and not full breath on your body and mind. After becoming aware of the natural rhythmic cycle of the breath, its focus can be directed to the location within the body where it is felt. This helps to notice whether the breath is superficial or deep. In superficial breathing, the breath stays in the upper lungs and chest whereas deep breath is created by using the whole breathing capacity, expanding the entire rib cage. Only after reaching this state of awareness of the breath, can a person start deepening and lengthening the breath. In the first and second trimesters of pregnancies, the focus of the breath can be the use of diaphragm. Later in the pregnancy, the breath awareness should be directed into breathing at the back of the lungs, ribcage, and belly. It is also good to learn how to notice the small pauses after each inhalation, before the exhalation begins, and after each exhalation before the next inhalation starts again. It is Important that the breath is not being held during these small natural pauses, but just to make a mental note that the pauses exist. This makes the pranayama practice more profound, and takes the breather deeper into their own inner world. This way the breathing becomes very meditative and relaxing. In a hectic life it is very calming to notice the absolute silence that each of these pauses contain. It is mentally important to realise that even if the outerworld is sometimes loud and chaotic, you can just close your eyes, consciously breath, and find your own inner peace and silence.

The Golden Thread Breath

Golden thread breathing to gain a deep relaxation in Shavasana.

The Golden Thread breath is considered to be the most valuable pranayama tool for pregnant women, due to its focus on the exhalation to ease the body into deep rest. This is a way of practising the kind of breath women usually adopt in the first stage of labour. The Golden Thread breathing can be practiced either sitting or lying down. When practiced lying down, you are more likely to fall asleep. In this breathing technique, the inhalations travel through the nostrils and the exhalations through the very small gap between the lips. The gap should be so small that it is barely visible. As the gap between the lips is so small, it takes longer to fully exhale. Should the breather feel that her breath is becoming harsh and difficult, she can make the gap between the lips a little larger, so that the air may travel out faster. The long exhalation, the soft cool breeze of air on the lips, and the image of the golden thread exiting through the lips makes this breathing technique very calming and soothing. Every exhalation takes the mental attention farther and farther away, making it travel completely out of the body. Being able to deliver the mental attention away from the body helps deal with the strong first-stage contractions.


Getting familiar with the Ujjayi breathing in a comfortable and supported seated position.

Maybe one of the most used and known pranayama practices is called the Ujjayi breathing. In this breathing technique, the breath flows through a narrowed glottis, making a soft and audible sound. Ujjayi effectively slows the breath by helping make the inhalations and exhalations longer. When practiced regularly, these lengthened inhalations and exhalations help reduce high blood pressure. Ujjayi also reduces feelings of anxiety and panic, making it an effective breathing technique also in labour. Ujjayi offers a fast ticket back to tranquillity when fear or anxiety set in during the birthing process. The long and deep Ujjayi breath is also very calming and relaxing not only for the expectant mother, but for the baby in the womb as well. The Ujjayi breath has a calming and quieting effect upon the movements of a restless baby inside the womb. Some women find this breathing technique so enjoyable, that they use it throughout their pregnancies and labours, whereas others find Ujjayi discomfortable. Listening to the audible sound of Ujjayi breathing helps stay more focused on the breath, because the mind has something more concrete on which to focus. The sound makes it more difficult to forget the breath, preventing the mind from wandering. Ujjayi can also be used to help with insomnia. A few rounds of soft and long Ujjayi are already calming and restorative.


Yesterday I saw an amazing video on Facebook showing the movement of the diaphragm when breathing. This little video clip demonstrates the range of motions breathing creates, it’s amazing!

“Birthlight yoga practices aim at preserving this wonderful activation of fascia and muscles around the growing baby all the way to full term and if this is achieved postnatal recovery is greatly improved.” – Francoise Freedman from Birthlight.

Breath is the tool that holds body and mind together and brings them to life. Without this magnificent tool we would not be able to live, and yet, we usually take breathing for granted. Breathing, of course, happens even if we don’t pay any attention to it, but after we become conscious of it, and start putting an effort on making it more profound, can we greatly improve the quality of our life.

Babies are experts in the use of the diaphragm, and are known to have a very profound diaphragmatic breathing. Unfortunately, already around the age of three, children lose diaphragmatic breathing, causing their breath to become shallower. This is thought to be caused by increased stress levels associated to starting daycare. In fact, stress is one of the biggest reasons why children and adults have short and shallow breath. When somebody is stressed, their breathing becomes faster, preventing the body from receiving all the oxygen it needs to function properly. When a woman is pregnant, the ability to control her breath becomes even more important, because she is actually breathing for two and is responsible of providing enough oxygen and nutrients for the baby.

Chest and heart center opener in supported supta baddha konasana

She will face many physical and emotional changes. One of biggest physiological changes relating to breathing, during pregnancy, is a blood volume increase, up to fifty percent. This means that there is proportionately less haemoglobin, and that the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is reduced causing breathlessness. Additionally, the heart rate increases so that the body can circulate the increased blood volume. When the expectant mother becomes fully aware of her breathing, she can reverse some of these negative physiological changes in her body. Knowing how to control her breath, she can gently lengthen and deepen it. This slows the heart rate. Even though the capacity to carry oxygen in the blood is reduced, the pregnant woman can still increase the amount of oxygen available to her by practising deep breathing. This increases the gaseous exchanges with the mother’s blood, making oxygen and important nutrients more available to the foetus, which then promotes good foetal growth.

Another big change that occurs later in the pregnancy is a limited movement of the diaphragm, caused by the growing belly. Through yoga, women can learn other ways of breathing and keeping their breath long and deep. One of the best ways to achieve that is to expand the movements of respiration into the sides of the ribcage, and the upper back. To do this, women need first to become conscious of their breathing, so that they may explore the different ways of having a full breath.

Many pregnant women suffer from constipation. This is partly caused by the growing uterus that creates pressure on the digestive organs. Deep breathing gives a nice massage to the digestive organs, helping them function better. Not only does this make the mothers digestion function better, but it also promotes foetal growth.

When women become pregnant, they usually face a wide range of feelings and emotions. They go through feelings from joy to sadness, and from trust to fear. They need to face many physical changes that can cause them discomfort, pain, and uncertainty regarding their pregnancy and the well-being of their baby. They experience hormonal changes which have a direct effect on their mood. It is important to understand that our emotions have a direct effect on our physical well-being. Many of our emotions are being stored in different parts of our body and, if we do not deal with the negative ones early enough, they start manifesting in our body. This is where conscious breathing becomes very important, because it helps us to tackle some of the emotions before they become too big and start causing physical problems as well.

Practicing the birthing breath and preparing the pelvic floor for birth.

Someone has once said:“When you own your breath nobody can steal your peace”. This person has managed to capture one of the most powerful effects of breath control in one phrase. When you breath consciously and deeply, you can reduce the feelings of stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and turn your senses inwards. Nowadays, stress is a big factor in decreasing the quality of life, and pregnant women are affected by this as well. When you are stressed, your sympathetic nervous system is turned on, telling your body that your are in danger. This, for example, increases the heart rate, releases glucose from the liver, and disturbs the digestion. Stress can also lead to depression, hypertension, and insomnia. If you learn to control your breath, you can tackle the stress in its early state, and prevent many of its negative side effects. Deep breathing inhibits the sympathetic nervous system greatly, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system that promotes healing. Conscious deep breathing slows your heartbeat, lowers your blood pressure, makes your blood flow return to the digestive organs, and relaxes you.

Prenatal shavasana at NiLU Yoga Thalwil.

If you would like to learn how to breath properly during pregnancy and birth, experience the effects breathing has on the baby, and feel the amazing benefits of deep breathing in your own body then I warmly welcome you to my prenatal classes at the beautiful NiLU Yoga in Thalwil. Classes start on the 26th of February and run weekly every Tuesday evening at 18:30-19:45. Get in touch to reserve your spot!

I’m a certified Birthlight prenatal yoga teacher and my pregnancy yoga classes draw from the Birthlight practices, methods, knowledge, and deep understanding of the physiological and psychological challenges expectant mother’s go through during the pregnancy. I include dynamic meditation, guided relaxation, and careful alignment of the asanas that I have embodied during my alignment based yoga teacher training organized by the Purna Yoga College.

Stay tuned for my next post about different breathing methods during pregnancy, how to incorporate breathing in the physical practice of yoga, and what breathing exercises are best for deep relaxation and birth.