Yoga and the Vagus Nerve
The Vagus Nerve is one of the most important nerves in our body that regulates various bodily functions such as heart rate, digestion, and respiratory rate. It is the longest nerve in the body, starting from the brainstem and extending through the neck and into the abdomen. The Vagus Nerve is responsible for the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” response in the body.
Yoga has been found to have a positive effect on the Vagus Nerve. The deep breathing exercises and physical postures of yoga can stimulate and tone the Vagus Nerve. When the Vagus Nerve is stimulated, it can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Here are some ways that yoga can positively affect the Vagus Nerve:
- Deep Breathing: One of the most effective ways to stimulate the Vagus Nerve is through deep breathing exercises such as Pranayama. The Vagus Nerve is activated by the diaphragm during deep breathing exercises. When we breathe deeply, we send a signal to the brain to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Backbends: Yoga poses that involve backbends can stimulate the Vagus Nerve by opening the chest and stretching the neck. Backbends like Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Fish Pose (Matsyasana) are great poses to help stimulate the Vagus Nerve.
- Meditation: Meditation has been found to stimulate the Vagus Nerve by promoting a state of relaxation and reducing stress. A regular meditation practice can help to improve the tone of the Vagus Nerve and promote overall health and wellbeing.
- Chanting: Chanting has been found to stimulate the Vagus Nerve by activating the muscles in the back of the throat. Chanting “OM” or other mantras can help to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
Overall, yoga is a great way to improve the tone of the Vagus Nerve and promote overall health and wellbeing. By incorporating deep breathing, backbends, meditation, and chanting into your yoga practice, you can help to stimulate and tone the Vagus Nerve, which can lead to a reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression.