What is the Vagus Nerve?

The Vagus nerve comes from the Latin word “Vagus” which means wandering, and is the longest cranial nerve in the body and the main nerve of our parasympathetic nervous system. This name because it wanders throughout your body, with wide distribution connecting the brainstem to the body. The vagal nerve starts in the brainstem, just behind the ears travelling down each side of the neck, across the chest and down through the abdomen, and regulates the rest, repair and digest functions of the body. A healthy vagal nerve leads you to respond mindfully.

Breathing for the Vagus Nerve .

One of the main ways that you can stimulate the healthy function of the vagus nerve is through deep, slow belly breathing

The moment we anticipate stress in any form, most of us tend to stop breathing or default to shallow breathing high in our chest. Short, shallow breathing or breath holding overstimulates the sympathetic nervous system, activating our fight or flight response, and results in the physiological symptoms of stress and feelings of anxiety

To practice deep breathing inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth and remember to:

  • Slow the breath down
  • Breathe more deeply, from the belly, expanding your abdomen and widening your rib cage as you inhale.
  • Exhale longer than you inhale. It’s the exhale that triggers the relaxation response.

Try counting:

Inhale 4 counts

Hold 7 counts

Exhale 8 counts

Pause

With regular Vagal Breathing practice people report being calmer, more focused, healthier and happier.