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Published on October 12th, 2020 | by Catherine Tingey

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Stress and The Vagus Nerve

Stress and the Vagus Nerve

What if I told you there was a feel-good switch in the body, just waiting to be activated?

I’ve said this before with regards to meditation, but vagus nerve stimulation is even easier.

If you’ve never heard of the vagus nerve, please sit down because it’s soooo fascinating.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the autonomic nervous system (the sciatic nerve is the longest in the body).

As the communication super highway of the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest), the vagus nerve connects brain to gut – it actually runs from the brain stem to the colon.

Having a high vagal tone, via stimulating the vagus nerve, is correlated to lowered blood pressure and heart rate, improved digestion, and resiliency to stress.

An improvement in these bodily functions contribute to a heightened sense of well being.

The vagus nerve is part of the adaptogenic center of the body.

Adaptogenic means your bodies ability to recover after being exposed to stress. Having high vagal tone means a strong adaptogenic response.

The same reason we might consume adaptogenic herbs like gingeng, astralagus, ashwaganda, tulsi, or rhodiola, get curious about your vagus nerve to boost your ability to return quickly to homeostasis.

Vagal tone can be measured by tracking your heartrate, breathing rate and HRV (heart rate variability).

How to stimulate your vagus nerve

There are a variety of ways the vagus nerve can be stimulated. Many of them are surprisingly simple!

Shower singer? Like to hum while you’re alone at home? You’re stimulating your vagus nerve as the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords.

Using your voice through socializing and laughing is also stimulating to the vagus nerve. However, if you find yourself frequently holding back your voice or opinions in social situations, check out my article about the Throat Chakra for tips on activating this self-expression center.

If you’re not into singing, chanting, gargling or humming, yogic breathing is one the simplest ways to stimlulate the vagus nerve. Other ways include meditation, exercise and cold exposure.

The vagus nerve can also be lightly massaged – learn how to massage your vagus nerve here.

As we enter Winter this election year, gather your tools of healthy eating, supplementation and mind-body techniques for optimal health.

Namaste,

Catherine

P.S. Want to read more?

These are some great articles with embedded video exercises one can do.

  1. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-vagus-nerve-your-superhighway-to-health
  2. https://yogauonline.com/yoga-anatomy/how-can-we-stimulate-vagus-nerve-our-yoga-practice-part-1
This blog pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about yoga, wellness, health and related sub­jects.  The words and other con­tent pro­vided in this blog, and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended and should not be con­strued as med­ical advice. If the reader or any other per­son has a med­ical con­cern, he or she should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other health care worker.
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Entrepreneur, yogini, designer, award-winning filmmaker, personal trainer and former marathon runner. She left a career in finance to start her own business and along the way, became a yoga teacher after practicing for 24 years.


About the Author

Entrepreneur, yogini, designer, award-winning filmmaker, personal trainer and former marathon runner. She left a career in finance to start her own business and along the way, became a yoga teacher after practicing for 24 years.



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