Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Hello and welcome to your Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation practice. The vagus nerve is known as the “wanderer.” It’s the longest cranial nerve that wanders from your brain all the way to your large intestine. This nerve reaches many areas of your body, such as your throat, lungs, heart, stomach, kidneys and more. The vagus nerve regulates vital bodily functions, such as breathing, heart rate, digesting food, muscular sensations (tension and relaxation), speech, blood pressure, mood and more. Stimulating the vagus nerve is useful for sending messages of safety to the mind and body, encouraging relaxation and restoration.
You may find that you feel the need to yawn, sigh, swallow or engage in a deeper breath throughout this practice. This is to be expected as we tap into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and digest).
You may also find that you start to feel cool throughout the practice. This can happen when we elicit a relaxation response within the body. So with this in mind, wear something warm and cozy.
I invite you to bring a blanket and a pillow to your space. Dim the lights and reduce the brightness of your screen. Practice in a quiet place (if possible). Silence notifications so that way you can fully immerse yourself in this vagus nerve stimulation practice.
The following are additional ways that you can stimulate your vagus nerve:
- Singing, chanting, humming or gargling water.
- Have a cold shower - yes, I’ve done this and it is uncomfortable at first, but there are many health benefits associated with cold showers. You can choose to start off with a warm shower and then turn the knob to cold for the last 15 to 20 seconds. Another option is to splash cold water on your face.
- Slow conscious breathing with a longer exhalation. For example, breathing in through your nose for a count of four, and then breathing out through your nose or mouth for a count of 8.
- Laughter! Do you normally feel good after experiencing a good belly laugh? Well your vagus nerve enjoys it too!
- Exercise, especially exercises that can get your heart rate up (e.g. swimming, speed walking, HIIT workouts, etc.).
- Meditation practices and yoga practices.
- Self-massage or getting a massage from a Registered Massage Therapist.
- Positive self-talk, such as loving affirmations (e.g. “I am enough.” “I love and accept all of me.” “My body is strong and capable of healing”).
- Building uplifting social connections.
- Engaging in play!
There’s so much that you can do at home to stimulate your vagus nerve every single day! This is empowering! You have the tools and strategies at your disposal to help you feel good, destress and restore.
If you would like to learn more about the vagus nerve, feel free to check out the following book:
Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: Self-help exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism, by Stanley Rosenberg.