The vagusnerve – How it benefits from breathwork and why this nerve is so important
„Vagus“ is a latin word, meaning „wanderer“ or „traveler“. Both terms describe the nerve’s character perfectly as the vagusnerve wanders from the brain through our neck and the upper torso through most of our organs, down to the genitals. On it’s way through the torso this travelling nerve passes such organs as the heart, the liver, the lungs, the spleen and the kidneys and the stomach and instestines just to name a few.
So the vagusnerve regulates the functions of these organs and also passes information from the organs to the brain. This fact influences our behaviour, our cognitive performance and emotions. Through the emotions our brain produces and distributes messenger substances like dopamin, adrenalin and serotonin. By connecting our intestine and the brain, the vagusnerve has a great impact on our health and wellbeing.
You surely know that our nervous-system is divided into the parasymapthetic and the sympathetic nervous-system. The vagus is a part of the parasympathetic system, which is the calming part of our nervous-system. The sympathetic system is the opposite part and it’s function is to set the body and mind into the fight-and-flight-mode, if necessary. If this is the case the vagusnerve plays a huge role when it comes to calming body and mind again. So you come into rest and digest and also find your balance again. In some other blogposts and vlogs I was talking about why it is so important to balance out body and mind and why sustained stress is making us sick and also leads to severe ailments.
It should be obvious why you should keep an eye on your vagusnerve. A weakened vagus results in:
- digestion problems
- chronic inflamation
- dizzyness ….
This is how you can train and keep your vagusnerve fit:
Slow breathing stimulates the vagus. Most efficiently this is done by Ujjayi-breathing. By narrowing the glottis, you produce a little resistance with exhalation and the inhalation. This pressure trains your vagusnerve.
Doing Brahmari Pranayama (bee’s humming), the brain and the skull are stimulated by the vibration caused by humming. These vibration also stimulate the vagus.
Applying abdominal breathing, the strong movement of the diaphragm gives your stomach and intestines a beautiful massage, stimulating the vagusnerve, which affects your digestion in a very positive way.
The third exercise I want to promote here is the so-called 1:2:2-ratio-breathing. You breathe very slowly and also retain the air. Being a part of the parasympathetic nervous-system, the vagusnerve gets a very effective impulse by calm breathing.
It should be obvious that by these simple yet effective exercises, the vagusnerve impacts your health and wellbeing in a great way. Not only do you prevent ailments by doing breathwork. You can do it everywhere, anytime. This is another wonderful effect controlled and slow breathing has on our life!
Let’s practise breathwork!