How to “Wake Up” Your Vagus Nerve for Whole-Body Health
Wake up your vagus nerve and enjoy all the positive benefits. Learn this special breathing technique to reactivate many of your vital bodily functions and leave you feeling renewed.
Human beings have twelve pairs of nerves that begin in the brain. Among these nerves, the tenth is definitely the most interesting and powerful: the vagus nerve.
It makes up a part of the parasympathetic nervous system and it has a very interesting job.
It is the one that helps you relax, achieve a state of tranquility to fight stress and anxiety, and enjoy a feeling of wellbeing which is essential to a better quality of life.
Not everyone is aware of how important this nerve is in your body.
It’s easy to see why: people are more focused on external stimuli than on patiently and intuitively listening to their own bodies.
Below we’ll suggest that you take a half hour for yourself. Shortly, you’ll learn how to “wake up” your vagus nerve and get a better quality of life.
If you put this into practice in your daily life, you’ll see changes. Are you ready?
Where the vagus nerve is located
The vagus nerve, previously called the pneumogastric nerve, starts in the medulla oblongata and then begins its long and fascinating journey through the:
- Bronchial tubes
It also makes its way through different arteries and motor fibers.
You could call it a long-distance highway that crosses over the front of your body while doing the following jobs:
- Gives you sensitivity.
- Stimulates your vocal cavity muscles and helps with communication.
- Regulates your breathing.
- Stimulates the production of oxytocin (the love or maternal bonding hormone).
- Regulates liver and pancreas function.
- Here’s a funny fact: it also stops your hiccups.
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The vagus nerve, a structure associated with whole-body health
Here’s something we all experience on a daily basis: you finish eating a big meal and feel a creeping tiredness, like a sleepiness that makes you want to lay on the couch or take a little nap.
- This feeling is regulated by the vagus nerve. After eating, your body uses a lot of energy to digest your food.
This nerve prompts you with a series of stimuli to encourage relaxation, resulting in this classic drowsiness.
- The vagus nerve, along with regulating digestion, watches out for your heart to make sure it doesn’t get too excited.
- Some people have a condition called “vasovagal syndrome.”
What happens is that when they get too excited, whether from fright or affection, the vagus nerve causes them to lose consciousness: they faint. This, of course, is an extreme case.
- It also regulates your immune system and cellular regeneration.
- Another function of this fascinating nerve is that it makes you feel satiated.
- Since it’s intimately related to the digestive system, it also acts as a regulator. The vagus nerve is what tells you that you’ve had enough and controls your appetite when you’re stressed.
As you can see, it helps in a lot of areas: relaxation, satiety, your weight, your anxiety or lack of it… Certainly a very interesting structure.
Technique for “waking up” your vagus nerve
This is a simple technique and won’t take up much more than a half hour of your time. However, it must be practiced daily and always at the same time of day.
You’ll see that it looks a lot like any other mindfulness technique for relaxation, where the key is always some type of controlled breathing.
Let’s see what we have to do:
- Put on comfortable, loose clothing.
- Lay down on an inclined surface with your head lower than your feet (Trendelenburg position).
- Put a cool, moist cloth on your forehead.
- Breathe in through your nose for 6 seconds, filling the lower part of your belly with air (abdominal breathing).
- Hold the air in for 6 seconds while you contract your abdomen as if someone were about to hit you.
- Now exhale deeply for 7 seconds, inflating your belly while at the same time pursing your lips as if you were blowing out a candle (this is the best way to oxygenate and activate your vagus nerve).
- Repeat the exercise 7 times.
- To end, very gradually sit up and wait 5 minutes before you stand up. Relax. Once you’re up, it’s a good idea to have a glass of cool water.
To conclude, as you’ve just seen, it’s a simple exercise to wake up the vagus nerve. It really is just about breathing in a way that will reactivate a vital bodily function.
Principal image courtesy of wikiHow.com