Share Pin Email
feature image
Live Fit

The Vagus Nerve and Why It Matters

Vagus what? Yeah, we hadn't heard of it either until wellness experts and scientists began discussing its incredible significance, especially pertaining to inner peace.

0 510
Author Image
Contributing Writer
SHARE:

It’s not news that holistic health practices, such as yoga, pranayama, and meditation play a huge role in easing stress and anxiety and reducing inflammation—an underlying cause of most illnesses, including heart and autoimmune diseases as well as cancer, explains Sonima mediation advisor Deepak Chopra, MD in a Facebook Live video, filmed in September (see below). Even the smallest behavior modifications, such as adopting these practices, can help optimize health.

Researchers, who have been studying the powerful mind-body effects of these holistic practices, found that a key factor may be the vagus nerve, the largest cranial nerve that relays messages between the brain and the respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems. Your breathing, digestion, and heart rate are all directly connected to the vagus nerve. This neural pathway facilitates your ability to find calm. How does it work? It activates the “relaxation response” of the parasympathetic nervous system, which, in turn, decreases anxiety, stress, and inflammation.

“The vagus nerve is called the nerve of emotion,” says renowned Ashtanga teacher and scholar Eddie Stern, who appears with Chopra in the Facebook Live. “It impacts whether you feel safe and protected in a secure, grounded place,” he says. This is why practices that tap into this nerve can improve one’s state of mind and overall sense of comfort while reducing stress and inflammation.

Low vagal tone indicates stress and is characterized by anxiety, negativity, weak digestion, depression, and inflammation. Optimal vagal tone is illustrated by one’s ability to manage stress, denoted by a balanced disposition and psychological well-being. Thus, it is vital to do what you can to elevate vagal tone. Several practices can enable you to accomplish this.

Yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and breath work have a strong impact on vagal tone. In a 2016 study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) published in Biological Psychiatry, 35 test subjects practiced mindfulness meditation as a means to handle life’s stressors, specifically unemployment. After four months, subjects showed higher levels of brain connectivity and lowered inflammation, indicating healthy vagal tone.

“We think that these brain changes provide a neurobiological marker for improved executive control and stress resilience. These changes improve a broad range of stress-related health outcomes, such as your inflammatory health,” says J. David Creswell, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor of psychology at CMU.

This resilience and adaptability is what allows you to minimize anxiety and enhance ease. “The more flexible you are, the more adaptable you are. You must stimulate the vagus nerve to do this,” says Chopra, who adds, “Breathing is one of the fastest and easiest ways to activate the vagus nerve. When you apply yogic practices, you are able to utilize the body and mind to experience pure consciousness also known as a sense of oneness.”

“Practicing loving-kindness and gratitude both tone the vagus nerve. For example, if you breathe with kindness, then you are doubling the effect on this part of your physiology,” says Stern. Science supports this, too: A 2015 meta-analysis published in Frontiers in Psychology found that those who engaged in loving-kindness meditation showed decreased stress responses.


Related: 10-Minute Loving-Kindness Meditation


Try this simple practice to nurture your vagus nerve. It is based on the idea of resonance breathing, which is when your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems come into harmonic balance. It’s important to note that “resonance” is the scientific word for when your heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, and brainwave function come into a coherent frequency.

According to a new app called The Breathing App, created by Chopra and Stern, this resonance breath frequency is established when you breathe at a rate of six breaths per minute rather than the usual 15 to 18. Resonance breathing has been found to regulate depression, ameliorate symptoms of pain, and boost mood and resilience. It is the approximate rate of breathing that Buddhist monks and yogis enter while meditating. As a guide, you can use The Breathing App or count the seconds.

Resonance Breath Practice

1. Simply notice the breath.
2. Start to slow the inhales and elongate the exhales.
3. Choose the length of time that works best for you:

*Inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6
*Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds
*Inhale for 6 seconds, exhale for 6 seconds (true resonance)
*Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 7 seconds

Notice how you feel after just a few minutes. What is the state of your mind? Allow the calm to permeate your being. Your vagus nerve will reward you.

By

SHARE:

Comments (0)

U.S. TOUR 2019

PARAMAGURU
SHARATH JOIS

Don’t miss your chance to attend class with the Ashtanga yoga master when he visits the U.S. Spring 2019!

Registration Now Open

Load More

Find us on Instagram

@LIVESONIMA
  • Paramaguru Sharath Jois’ new book, Ageless: A Yogi's Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life, is now available for shipping to the U.S.!
.
.
The teachings in this book are centered on creating healthy lifestyle habits and ways we can prevent sickness to live long, peaceful lives. Sharath includes great yogi wisdom from his grandfather, Guruji, along with pranayama and asana practices.
.
.
You can download the book on Google play or order it on Amazon! Visit the link in our bio to purchase. This book was co-written with his student, Isha Singh Sawhney.
  • “The Primary Series in Aṣṭāṅga yoga is called Yoga Chikitsa, which means yoga therapy. It is designed to bring stability within us.” – Sharath Jois
.
.
Come practice Primary Series with Paramguru Sharath Jois when he visits the U.S. this year.
.
.
Registration is now open!
.
.
Stanford, California,  April 22 – 27
Miami, Florida,  May 1 – 7
New York, New York,  May 11 -16
.
.
Follow the link in our bio to join in this incredible experience of learning yoga right from the source. #SharathJoisUSA2019 #LiveSonima (photo by: @ilfilmyoga) .
.
.
.
#SharathJois #Sharath #SharathTour #AshtangaYoga #AshtangaCommunity #Astanga #AshtangaPrimarySeries #YogaLife #YogaLiving #ParamaguruSharathJois #YogaDiaries #YogaTour #YogaTherapy #YogaHealing #LiveWell #LiveBetter #BalancedLifestyle #YogiLife
  • Did you catch our Instagram or Facebook LIVE yesterday? Deepak Chopra, MD, gave a profound keynote speech on the neuroscience of self-awareness and higher consciousness at the 2019 Yoga and Science Conference in NYC. Visit the link on our page to hear it and check out or Instagram highlights for a recap of the conference. #YogaAndScience2019 #LiveSonima
  • Day 2 of the 2019 Yoga and Science Conference began with a restorative yoga session led by Gail Parker, PhD. Participants welcomed one another through partnered listening exercises followed by a brief meditation and restorative postures. ❤️🙏 #YogaAndScience2019 #LiveSonima
  • We’re at the Yoga and Science Conference this weekend in NYC! Head over to our Instagram and Facebook Stories for our coverage on the research behind mindfulness-based practices. And be sure to tune today on Instagram or Facebook at 2:30PM for a LIVE video of Deepak Chopra, MD, exploring the reality of science and yoga. ❤️🙏
#YogaAndScience2019 #LiveSonima
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
#yoga #science #mindfulness #mindfulpractice #deepakchopra #yogaandscience #yogaheals #healthylifestyle #yogahealing #yogaresearch
  • We are so excited to announce that registration is now open to all! Join Paramaguru Sharath Jois in the U.S. this Spring. Spaces will fill up quickly, so be sure to reserve your spot on one or more of his teaching weeks:
.
.
* Stanford, California,  April 22 – 27
* Miami, Florida,  May 1 – 7
* New York, New York,  May 11 -16
.
.
Follow the link in our bio to sign up! And once you do, we’d love to see how you’re preparing for it. Share your practice and plans with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter by tagging @LiveSonima and #SharathJoisUSA2019 ❤️🙏 We’ll see you there!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
 #sharath #sharathustour #sharath2019 #sharathjois #yogawisdom #livesonima #ashtanga #ashtangacommunity #asana #yogaliving #yogaeveryday #mindfulliving #livewell #livefree #balance #yogilife #yogamaster #ashtangafamily #practiceisprayer #miamilifecenter #stanforduniversity #sharath #sharathjoistour #astangalove #ashtangalove #ashtangapractice #ashtangayogalove
Receive fresh content delivered to your inbox every week!