Style: Quick fix
Length: 30 minutes
Our Vagus Nerve is the main component of the Parasympathetic Nervous System also known as the ‘Rest & Renew Mode’. Vagus is the largest nerve in the body, starting at the top of the spine at the 10th cervical nerve connecting with the brain all the way down to the gut. Along the way the nerve branches off and connects with the throat, lungs, heart and kidney. The vagus nerve is like the button you press to reduce stress.
By stimulating the vagus nerve you can send a message to your body that its time to relax and de-stress which leads to long term improvements in mood, wellbeing and resilience. It allows people to overcome anxiety and depression, and better manage them when they arise. Having higher vagus tone leads to better immune system, improved gut health, lower inflammation, reduces the likeness of diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Toning our vagus has even been proven to help with epilepsy.
Our vagus nerve tone is measured in changes in heart rate that occur with the breath i.e. HRV(Heart Rate Variability). Healthy vagus tone has a slight increase in the heart rate of the inhale and decrease in the exhale. So we work on lengthening the exhale to decrease the heart rate compared to that of the inhale.
In this practice we increase HRV by moving through pranayama to lengthen the exhale. We awaken areas that the nerve directly connects with such as throat, heart and the gut. We move through heart opening practices one of the quick ways to tone the vagus and we close the practice with a meta meditation/love & kindness meditation.
Some of the proven ways to tone the vagus nerve in your everyday life is through conscious breathing, meditation, yoga(of course!), cold showers, smiling, laughing, intermediate fasting, eating omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics and foods rich in probiotics.