The vagus nerve is a key part of your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body's rest-and-digest functions. It influences everything from breathing and heart rate to digestion, which can significantly impact your mental health.

Our vagus nerves play a key role in our overall health and well-being. Increasing the activity of this nerve can help us return to a relaxed state after stressful experiences.

When we have a heightened vagal tone, our bodies and minds are healthier. Practicing certain activities can increase our vagal tone, such as cold exposure, meditation, deep belly breathing, exercise, and yoga.

What is Vagus Nerve?

The vagus nerve, also known as the vagal nerves, is a set of cranial nerves that serve as the main nerves of your parasympathetic nervous system. The system controls specific body functions such as digestion, heart rate, and immune system. These functions of your body happen without you thinking about them.


Does Yoga Help with the Vagus Nerve?

Yoga practices that stimulate the vagus nerve can help you regulate your body and mind. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it has a balancing effect: It either ramps you up or calms you down, depending on how you need it to function. You may be feeling anxious or shut down due to physical pain or fatigue.


A calming practice for your vagus nerve is to breathe deeply and slowly. Focus on your breath, allowing it to be full and slow, and feel free to experiment with different breathing patterns until you find one that feels best.

Six Best Yoga Poses To Activate Your Vagus Nerve and Improve Your Health

Here are some of the yoga poses you can try in your day-to-day routine:

1) Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose creates contact between your forehead and the floor (or your fists, a block, a bolster, or a blanket). The pressure stimulates a branch of the vagus nerve, lowering blood pressure and heart rate while reducing cortisol levels.


How to do it:

  • Start in a wide stance with your knees slightly bent, heels on the ground.
  • Reach your arms out long in front of you and let your chest melt toward the mat.
  • Breathe deeply and relax deeper with every exhale, holding this position for ten full breaths.

2) Forward Fold

Forward Fold is a gentle forward bend that massages the liver and kidneys, improves digestion, and calms the mind. It also helps in activating the vagus nerve hence reducing stress.


How to do it:

  • Come to stand at the top of your mat, feet hips-width distance apart.
  • Fold your upper body over your thighs and let your arms hang heavy.
  • Bend your knees slightly, resting your belly on your thighs.
  • Relax into the posture and allow the back of your neck to release.
  • Hold here for ten breaths.

3) Supported Heart Opener

The practice of heart space expansion essentially involves allowing your ribs to stretch out as you expand the chest. This can be achieved through the use of backbends in yoga and certain Pranayama breathing techniques.


How to do it:

  • To do this pose, get a rolled blanket or bolster and place it vertically in the center of your mat.
  • Put the short edge of the bolster at your tailbone, lying on your back.
  • Then spread your legs out wide for a reclined butterfly pose or bring the soles of your feet together for a twist.
  • Hold for ten breaths.

4) Waterfall

Waterfall pose is a restorative inversion that calms the mind and relieves tension in the lower abdomen. It also reverses the effects of gravity on the legs and allows your heart rate to slow down.


How to do it:

  • Lie on your mat with a block beneath your tailbone.
  • Bend your knees and bring your feet up toward the ceiling, into waterfall pose.
  • Let your muscles relax as you sink into the earth while rotating your feet in circles.
  • Hold for ten breaths.

5) Happy Baby

The Happy Baby pose is a hip opener that can help release stress and tension—particularly if you are working through trauma.


How to do it:

  • Lie down on your mat, extending your legs toward the ceiling and grabbing the outer edges of your feet.
  • Root down firmly through your spine, then breathe into your inner hips.
  • If you like, you can also extend one leg and then the other to stretch the hamstrings. Hold for ten breaths.

Wrapping Up

Taking the time to promote a healthy nervous system can make all the difference when it comes to managing your stress and anxiety levels. Yoga is an excellent way to do this, as it can activate your vagus nerve, fostering a state of calm throughout your body. Incorporating these poses into your regular yoga practice will bring you closer to achieving those long sought-after states of inner peace.

Quick Links

More from Sportskeeda

Source link