Our bodies have a number of nerves to relay information and control impulses back and forth from the brain to the different parts of the body. The vagus nerve is one of the big nerve systems controlling the heart, lungs, and digestive tract, serving as the major autobahn between the brain and the internal organs as well as controlling the response of the autonomic nervous system. For example, when the body is not under stress, the vagus nerve sends commands to slow heart and breathing rates and increase digestion. However, in times of stress, control shifts to the fight-or-flight (FOF) mode, which produces the opposite effect. The Vagus nerve has a two-way function of controlling and reporting back the the brain. So, there is a direct connection between the breathing and the heart rate because the vagus nerve is involved in controlling both. If we want to relax, we can use this direct connection by practicing slow breathing. The slow expansion of the lungs signals to the heart to slow down, which sends a feeling of calm throughout your entire nervous system. For this reason, relaxation practices like meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong that emphasize slow breathing helps us to relax.
Like all of our body, the Vagus nerve is a “living” system and can be damaged or have a reduced function, which is called low vagal tone. A low vagal tone means that the reactions that are controlled by the Vagus nerve are not very effective any more. Instead of having an immediate response of relaxation when practicing slow breathing it is delayed or not happening at all.
So, you want to have a high vagal tone, so that your mind and body work better together. Improving the vagal tone is called stimulating the Vagus nerve. How to stimulate the vagus nerve?
• humming, singing, drumming, listening to BNB music
• meditation (for at least 20 min)
• breathing in 4-4-4-4 box breath
• exercise, dancing
• using cold water
• doing something boring like counting sheep
• listening to something boring or relaxing
• Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong
• Massage, Reiki, and other body or energy work
• Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Probiotics (help with digestion and brain function)
• Vagus nerve Oil
(There is no order to this list).
Why would this stimulation of the Vagus nerve be important? Because the Vagus nerve is connected to several organs at the same time and, therefore, the whole body is affected by low vagal tone.
Here is a list of benefits of stimulating the vagus nerve
• reduces depression, PTSD, anxiety, panic attack
• reduce inflammation
• reduces heart rate, blood pressure
• reduces headaches
• relieves adrenal fatigue
• improve irritable bowl syndrome and such