“Do you have a sensitive nervous system that adversely impacts your health? By developing an understanding of the workings of your vagus nerve you may find it possible to work with your nervous system rather than feel trapped when it works against you.” — Dr. Arielle Schwartz
The vagus (Latin for ‘wanderer’) nerve is the longest and most complex of the 12 cranial nerves. This nerve runs from the brain stem through the face, neck, thorax, heart, gastrointestinal tract, the bladder, and even branches down into the pelvis! The vagus nerve is heavily involved in the parasympathetic side of the nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases alertness, blood pressure, and heart rate, and helps with calmness, relaxation, and digestion. Vagal response also affects defecation, urination, and sexual arousal.
In people with fatigue, food sensitivities, anxiety, gut problems, brain fog, etc…the vagus nerve is almost always at play.
Research has shown that stimulating the vagus nerve can turn “off” inflammatory diseases such as epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, and IBS. Regulation of the vagus nerve also plays a significant role in mental health, allowing you to effectively respond to the emotional and physiological symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
So how do we naturally stimulate the vagus nerve? Since this nerve connects with the diaphragm, conscious deep breathing, like the full yogic breath will naturally stimulate this nerve.