Ever heard about the Vagus Nerve? It is one of the 12 most complex cranial nerves. Why must we care about it? It connects the brain to multiple vital organs of the body. Truly, it is the nerve that physically represents the mind-body connect. Its health determines your wellness quotient. Vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system. Parasympathetic nervous system is active and facilitates rest by slowing the heart rate, reducing the metabolism,among other functions. the rest mode in the body. An impaired parasympathetic system or a dysfunctional vagus nerve is a result of stress in the body. Stimulating the Vagus nerve helps treat stress related disorders like multiple sleep disorders, anxiety, obesity and clinical depression. Here are a few easy ways to activate your wellness nerve!
Though vagus nerve has, more recently, caught the attention of the researchers as holding the key to mental well being and as a treatment for various psychological as well as physiological disorders, the nerve finds mention in the ancient scriptural texts called the Vedas as certain energy channels called the Nadis. The Vagus nerve, controls critical involuntary functions like digestion, blood circulation and respiration. A poorly stimulated Vagus nerve can result into poor digestion, inflammations, fatigue, anxiety, migraine and attention deficit.
Know your Vagal Tone
Vagal tone is the indicator of how active your Vagus nerve is. An inactive vagus nerve has a lower vagal tone and vice versa. How can you improve your vagal tone?
1) Sudarshan Kriya
Practicing Sudarshan Kriya yoga, a powerful breathing technique is known to be one of the most effective tools available within one’s breath to activate the vagus nerve. Studies have concluded that regular practice of Sudarshan Kriya reduced depression in among 67% patients in the study and anxiety in about 71% study group.
2) Ideal pro-vagal tone diet
Potassium rich diet including nuts like almonds, curd, avocado, coconut water, yogurt, and sweet potato are good stimulants of the vagus nerve.
Deep breathing exercises like Nadi-Shodhan Pranayam (Alternate Nostril breathing) or Ujjayi Breathing (Diaphragmatic breathing) can instantly activate the vagus nerve, creating a feeling of happiness and contentment in you, a key indicator of wellness.
Regular Yoga practitioners of report significant improvement in their state of mind, more calmness and an experience of inner joy. This according to experts, is because Yoga and pranayamas when practiced mindfully stimulates the vagus nerve.
10 minutes of laughter everyday is all that you need to trigger activity in the vagus nerve, increasing the sense of over all physical and mental well being in you. According to scientists, the body does not differentiate between the nature of laughter, that is, if it is real or fake. Same happiness hormones are released when we laugh, whether pretentiously or in real.
One of the most useful strategies to work on a dysfunctional vagal tone is meditation. Stress and Vagal tone are inversely related to each other. Lower the stress, higher the vagal tone and vice versa. You can beat the daily stress by dipping into a reservoir of peace and stillness that a 20 minute meditation can provide you. You can end your day with a deep and restful Yoga Nidra to give some pampering to the battered Vagus nerve.