Did you know that our Vagus Nerve is the longest and most complex of the cranial nerves. It runs from brain to heart to belly and also belly to heart to brain.
The Vagus Nerve is an important and vital part of our Parasympathetic Nervous System (calm and reset). It calms down our heart rate. It is not under conscious control and is largely responsible for the regulation of several body compartments at rest.
Low Vagal Tone refers to the activity of the Vagus Nerve is when the Vagus Nerve is impaired, the Parasympathetic Nervous System is not as active as the Sympathetic Nervous System. Just like any nerve or muscle in our body we need to use it and strengthen the nerve or muscle for it to work more effectively and predominantly.
As the Vagus Nerve is a part of the Parasympathetic Nervous System it cancels our stress response of fight / flight. This stress response activates adrenaline, and progressively builds up, tightening our entire systems causing tension on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and energetic. Therefore, toning the Vagus Nerve is the ‘magic pill’ to de-activate stress in our body.
How do we do this? Simply through our breath and in particular our exhalation. When we are exhaling our Vagal Tone / activity is at its highest (when our heart rate is at its lowest).
On a physical level our exhale activates specific neurons within our bodies that detect blood pressure, these neurons then signal to our Vagus Nerve that our blood pressure is becoming too high. Which in turn our Vagus Nerve responds by lowering our heart rate to compensate for this detected increase in blood pressure.
For more information on this, please refer to Wim Hof Method who has done many experiments with Vagal Tone.
A great way to extend an out breath is through sound. Here are a few suggestions for sounds:
- A shhhhh sound
- A buzzzzzz bee sound
- Ahhhhhhh sigh sound