How – And Why – To Tone Your Vagus Nerve With Yoga
How – and Why – to Tone Your Vagus Nerve with Yoga
The Vagus nerve is, simply, the long nerve running from your brain to your belly. You can go deep into the anatomy and theory of the vagus nerve, but even a cursory understanding will provide a multitude of benefits for your life.
A human with a well-toned vagus nerve will move more fluidly between stress and relaxation, digest better, get sick less often, and feel overall more comfortable and safe. Our vagus nerve is partly toned by our environment, especially in childhood, where secure environments and loving attachments helped us by – or hindered us from – achieving good development.
There’s little we can do about our childhood and life experiences to date. What we can do, now, is assess how we are repeatedly building and toning our vagus nerve in daily life.
One of the primary benefits of yoga is toning the vagus nerve. Here are three ways to achieve vagal tone in yoga.
Breathe with Your Throat
Yogic breath sounds funny, and it often gets a lot of funny descriptions. Your teacher may be telling you to breathe like Darth Vader or exhale like ocean waves. The breath instruction can sound bizarre, esoteric, or over-complicated.
Don’t let it be.
Just move your breath intentionally over your throat. The vagus nerve runs through your vocal chords. Letting the breath wash over this area will help you bring energetic awareness to this crucial point of contact.
Move Your Spine
Your spine moves in six different ways, but many yoga classes only focus on two of them. Make sure you get to all six. Here’s how:
- Bend your spine. Most yoga classes achieve this through poses like forward folds and child’s pose.
- Extend your spine. Most yoga classes will get to this movement through poses like cobra and upward dog, but any backbend will do.
- Twist your spine in both directions. Just lying on your back and taking your knees side to side will achieve this movement for you, or incorporate as many twists as you life. A well-balanced yoga class will have plenty of twisting, but if your class feels a little short on this category, add some in on your own.
- Lean your spine in both directions. Side leaning is the complement to twisting, but we don’t often hit this movement in a standard yoga class. Try just reaching your arms overhead and leaning side to side often every time you practice.
Slow and mindful movement will stimulate and tone the vagus nerve. Opting for slower classes, or simply moving your body slower in fast-pace classes, can be hard for our egos. Ultimately, allowing yoga to serve our souls over our egos will be the most beneficial choice we can make. No matter how you breathe or bend, just slowing down will yield the highest benefits for your life.
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