When oh when will she stop ranting on about yoga...? Haha, never! If you read my site you know by now that the effects of a yoga practice certainly go deep. The word yoga itself means to “yoke” or “unite”, and it illustrates this through its seamless connection to the mind, body, and spirit. What research is now showing are some promising effects on the most important nerve of the body, the vagus nerve. what?!?!
The vagus nerve begins in the brain and stretches all the way down to the belly. You know when you just have that “gut instinct” and you put your hand on your stomach? (yep that’s the gateway between mind & body calling and it’s making sure you’re paying attention). Well yogis you are in luck, because this enchanting pathway could be stimulated with a simple yoga practice!
Your internal Walkie Talkie:
The vagus nerve supplies motor and sensory parasympathetic fibers from the neck all the way down to the transverse colon, conveying sensory information about your entire body to the central nervous system. Imagine a walkie talkie inside your body spewing out important facts about your heart rate, muscles, and digestion. Kinda cool, hugh?
Often called the “love bundle” of our body, the vagus nerve is also connected to oxytocin (feel good hormone) receptors that help us achieve empathy and happiness. Some studies have even shown a connection between the immune system and the vagus nerve in addition to its role in controlling of the body’s inflammation response.
Yoga + Vegus = A “Win-Win” situation!
According to psychologists at the Greater good science center, yoga is one of the best practices for nourishing this “wandering nerve”. When we practice yoga postures, we are wringing out our muscles and increasing circulation to the entire body. It’s that great feeling in shavasana when you feel a slight twitching of the muscles. A wonderful sensation, and we owe it all to Vegus!
Pranayama & Meditation
The Vagus nerve is stimulated by pranayama, (yogic breathwork) as it awakens by the rise and fall of the diaphragm and turns on the parasympathetic nervous system. This is why yoga and meditation are known as anti-depressants. This nerve is also responsible for speech and movement of the muscles in the mouth, so it makes sense that chanting is also very stimulating.
Another reason to love the invigorating moving meditation that is yoga. Quieting the mind while stimulating the body at its deepest level. A “win-win situation” indeed!