7 Vagus Nerve Exercises To Help Regulate Your Nervous System
I went most of my life without realizing that I had a dysregulated nervous system (including the vagus nerve), and this is why I struggled with so much anxiety. Looking back, it’s clear to me now that my nervous system was constantly in overdrive, reacting to every little stressor in my environment.
For years, I just thought this was normal. I assumed that everyone felt this way – on edge, anxious, and tense. It wasn’t until I started to experience extreme social anxiety and physical symptoms that I began to realize something was really wrong.
Eventually, I learned about the role of the vagus nerve in regulating the nervous system and how it impacts our emotional and physical wellbeing. I started to understand that my struggles with anxiety and other symptoms were all connected to my dysregulated nervous system that was largely stuck in fight and flight response.
Over the past few years, I have been working hard to learn how to regulate my nervous system and vagus nerve. I’ve tried various techniques, including meditation, breathwork, yoga, and somatic therapy. Some days are still a struggle, but I am making progress.
Learning to regulate my nervous system is helping immensely. I am now able to approach life with a greater sense of calm and ease, and most days I’m no longer held back by my anxiety. I am grateful for the knowledge and tools that have helped me along the way and am committed to continuing this journey of healing and growth.
How Is Your Nervous System Doing?
Most people go their whole life without learning about their nervous system or vagus nerve. I’m here to tell you it’s worth taking the time. If you’re looking to bring more emotional, mental, and spiritual healing into your body, then the nervous system is key! Nervous system healing can be deeply rewarding – so why not give it a try?
In this article, we’ll explore 7 vagus nerve exercises that can help you achieve powerful inner bodywork. Here are some of the benefits you’ll find:
- Clear, healthy communication between your brain and body
- Activation of your natural healing response
- Release of physical and energetic blockages
- Improved emotional regulation skills
Ready to start? Keep reading for more information on how these vagus nerve exercises can help you heal.
What is the Vagus Nerve?
The Vagus Nerve, whose name in Latin translates to ‘wandering’, is the longest cranial nerve in the human body. It runs from the brain all the way down to the stomach and plays an important role in our parasympathetic (or rest and digest) system – helping us slow down, relax, and digest food, as well as better connect with our environment and others.
Having difficulty managing stress, anxiety, chronic pain or digestive issues? It could be that your vagus nerve is underutilized – much like an inactive body. To help improve this, we can learn how to stimulate the vagus nerve in order to increase its performance and benefit from its influence over our heart and respiratory rate, as well as digestion.
This is referred to as having high vagal tone – which helps bring about feelings of calmness, resilience in the face of stress, improved sleep and better interactions with others.
To achieve this, it’s beneficial to explore different exercises that help stimulate the Vagus Nerve.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Does It Help Spiritually?
I was surprised when I learned that vagus nerve stimulation is an important part of the spiritual journey. It helps to bring us into our bodies (and out of our heads or intellect) and therefore into the present moment, which is essential for connecting with ourselves and the miracle of life. To truly make progress on our spiritual paths, it is necessary to learn how to work with our vagus nerve so that we can be relaxed, grounded, and centered.
I’m definitely an advocate of helping others learn how to walk their own paths, listen to their souls, and deeply navigate the spiritual awakening journey. As such, working with our nervous system through vagus nerve stimulation is an important component of this process as it connects everything together. Thus, it is necessary to explore this aspect of our spiritual journey in order to make real progress.
7 Vagus Nerve Exercises To Help Regulate The Nervous System
The purpose of these vagus nerve exercises is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and create a more relaxed state in the body. Studies have linked this type of stimulation to reduced inflammation (1), depression relief (2), anxiety alleviation (3), IBS relief, and many other beneficial applications.
However, it is important to note that these exercises should be done with caution and mindfulness. Before beginning any of the activities, ensure that you are feeling comfortable and safe. It is also suggested to start slowly and not exercise for longer than five or ten minutes a day, so as not to put too much strain on your body. If at any point during the exercises you begin to feel uncomfortable, take a break.
Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
Working with a somatic experiencing practitioner was a turning point in my healing journey. For years, I had relied solely on my intellect to try to understand and manage my anxiety and other symptoms. But I realized that I was missing a crucial piece of the puzzle – my body.
Through somatic experiencing, I learned how to get in touch with my body and its sensations. I discovered that by paying attention to how my body feels, I could better understand my emotions and their impact on me. I was able to identify where I hold tension and stress, and use that knowledge to release it.
Somatic experiencing also helped me regulate my intense emotions. Rather than shutting down or going numb when I felt overwhelmed, I learned how to sit with my emotions and experience them more fully. By doing this, I found that my emotions would naturally regulate themselves over time.
My somatic experiencing practitioner also introduced me to various vagus nerve exercises. I learned how to use my breath and other techniques to stimulate my vagus nerve and activate my parasympathetic nervous system. This helped me feel more calm and centered, even in stressful situations.
Overall, working with a somatic experiencing practitioner helped me learn how to feel and regulate my emotions in a more embodied way. It was a powerful reminder that our bodies and minds are deeply interconnected and that we can’t fully heal one without addressing the other. I am grateful for the tools and knowledge that somatic experiencing has given me and will continue to incorporate them into my daily life.
Now, the following are some vagus nerve exercises for nervous system healing:
1. How to Build Somatic and Nervous System Capacity by Irene Lyon
2. Vagus Nerve Exercises To Rewire Your Brain From Anxiety
3. Breathing Exercises for Vagus Nerve Stimulation
4. 7 Ways to Stimulate the Power of the Vagus Nerve
5. Turn off Anxiety in Your Nervous System: 4 Ways to Turn on the Parasympathetic Response
6. Vagus Nerve Activation | 10 Minute Daily Routines
7. Vagus Nerve Reset To Release Trauma Stored In The Body (Polyvagal Exercises)
Vagus Nerve: Further Reading
Here are two popular books on the vagus nerve, along with their links:
“The Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe” by Stephen W. Porges. This book explores the science behind the polyvagal theory, which explains how the vagus nerve impacts our emotions and behavior. The author explains how understanding the role of the vagus nerve can help us better regulate our responses to stress and trauma.
“Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: Self-Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and Autism” by Stanley Rosenberg. This book offers practical exercises and techniques for stimulating and regulating the vagus nerve, which can help improve our physical and mental health. The author provides easy-to-follow instructions for self-care practices that can be done at home.
What Is The Vagus Nerve?
The vagus nerve, often referred to as the “wandering nerve,” is the longest cranial nerve in the human body and plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including digestion, heart rate, respiration, and even emotional responses.
What Happens When The Vagus Nerve Is Triggered?
The vagus nerve is a crucial component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls a range of bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, and relaxation. When the vagus nerve is triggered, it sends signals to various organs in the body, leading to a cascade of physiological responses. For example, the vagus nerve stimulation can result in a drop in heart rate and blood pressure. Additionally, the nerve stimulates the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that slows down the firing of neurons in the brain. This, in turn, boosts feelings of relaxation, calmness and tranquility. Moreover, the vagus nerve also plays a critical role in our immune system, as it helps regulate cytokine production, which is crucial in combating inflammation. In summary, when the vagus nerve is activated, the body experiences a wide range of effects, from physical relaxation to strengthening the immune system.
What Are The Symptoms Of An Irritated Vagus Nerve?
An irritated vagus nerve can result in a range of symptoms that can pose a challenge to one’s daily routine. The nerve can become inflamed due to a variety of reasons including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), respiratory issues, damage from surgery, or even excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine. As a result of irritation, individuals may experience heart palpitations, nausea, difficulty swallowing, and a persistent cough. They may also experience difficulty in breathing, dizziness, and sweating. An irritated vagus nerve may also cause arrhythmia, low blood pressure, and fainting episodes. Individuals who suffer from diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or other conditions that result in damage to nerve fibers are at higher risk of developing vagus nerve irritation. It is essential to seek medical advice if any of the aforementioned symptoms occur, as timely intervention can prevent serious complications.
I hope you are now more familiar with the vagus nerve and will utilize the vagus nerve exercises here. The hardest part for me is to remember to do them regularly, but once you get into the habit, it’s natural and you’ll likely feel a difference.
Sending big love your way,
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