The Vital Role of the Vagus Nerve
Your vagus nerve plays a crucial role in regulating and controlling the function of many of your vital organs, your digestion, immunity and your rest and digest nervous system. As the longest and most complex cranial nerve ( connecting your lungs, heart, gut and other organs to your central nervous system) it truly stands as a cornerstone of our well being. It branches out to these organs and relays messages back and forth from the brain to regulate and control their function by signalling the production of neurotransmitters and hormones.
The more stimulation your vagus nerve receives, the faster your body can recover and adapt to stress, anxiety as well as improve your gut health, immune system defence and reduce inflammation within your body. When regularly stimulated, it remains active in it’s communication and parasympathetic response to stress by slowing down your breath, heart rate and blood pressure.
Research suggests that your vagal tone (level of vagus nerve activity) can even be passed on to your children. Mothers that carry low
moods and energies such as depression, anxiety and anger during pregnancy have lower vagal activity, lower serotonin and dopamine levels
which can then be expressed in their newborn.
Now that you know how important it is, how can you incorporate vagal-tone-loving activities in your life?
Here are 8 ways to naturally stimulate the vagus nerve with Ayurveda:
Meditation can help calm the mind and body, reducing stress levels and move your body from ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and digest’ mode. It can also improve brain connectivity which can help you increase awareness, decision-making skills and improve concentration. If you’re a first timer - try starting out with 10 minutes a day, then slowly increase.
2. Pranayama (breathing)
Taking slow, deep breaths can help activate the vagus nerve, as it is responsible for controlling the respiratory system. Practicing deep breathing exercises for a few minutes every day can help calm the body and improve overall well-being.
3. Humming and singing
Just a few minutes a day can stimulate the vagus nerve and improve your mood and stress levels.
Remember the feeling you have after a relaxing massage? That’s you in rest and digest mode and it can help you increase your vagal tone. Try incorporating a daily Abhyanga self-massage or keep up with your regular massage visits.
5. Yoga & Exercise
Find a form of exercise you enjoy and stick to a consistent routine. There are so many benefits to yoga and exercise beyond increasing your vagal tone, it can also improve your mental health and reduce cognitive decline.
6. Gut-friendly foods
Many are increasingly recognising the importance of gut health for your overall well-being and research shows that gut bacteria can also affect your vagal tone. Try to include more warm, easily-digestible meals such as Kitchari and probiotics in your daily life to see and feel the results.
Gargling works similar to humming by helping to activate the muscles at the back of your throat. Try gargling warm water for 30 seconds to help stimulate the vagus nerve and improve throat and vocal cord health.
8. Carotid sinus massage
The carotid sinus is located on either side of the neck, between the trachea (windpipe) and the large sternocleidomastoid muscle. Gently
massaging this area with circular motions can stimulate the baro receptors located there, which can help activate the vagus nerve.
Some additional words of wisdom from our Ayurvedic specialist, Dr. Ajit:
Every day, take a moment to process your thoughts, gently reviewing the day's experiences.
Consider the significance of nasal drops; they hold a key to your wellbeing and flow of prana that links to your breathing, mental clarity, pituitary and pineal glands. Choose foods that align with your unique dosha body type, nourishing it harmoniously. Remember, breathing is your most vital companion on this journey. And as you consume your nourishment, do so with deep focus and gratitude.
These natural methods can help stimulate your vagus nerve and improve overall physical and mental well-being. Incorporating these
techniques into your daily routine can help promote relaxation and reduce stress levels, leading to a healthier and happier life. Try them
out for yourself and let us know if you feel a difference!
Struggling with recurring health issues?
This is a sign that you need to target the root cause of the issue at hand.
To discover what may be causing your health issues, guidance regarding your doshic constitution and to discover the dietary and lifestyle adjustments that resonate most with your unique needs, consider scheduling a consultation with Dr. Ajit. Boasting 47 years of experience, he has assisted numerous clients in their healing journeys and encouraged the adoption of a proactive stance towards various health concerns.