The Key to Yoga Bliss: A Little Vagal Stimulation. ~ Paula Grace Watkins

Via on Mar 8, 2013

vagus

Is happiness as simple (and as complicated) as stimulating your vagus?

Possibly.

And it turns out us yogins might be particularly good at it.

Though still a young field of research, several scientific articles on the effects of yoga on psychological wellbeing point toward the vagus nerve as a key player underlying the mood enhancing effects of yoga.

The vagus nerve is critical to the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxing one). This nerve (vagus means wander-ing in Latin) literally wanders from your brainstem all the way down through your neck and into your chest and abdomen – one on each side of your body. It connects pretty much everything including your tongue, heart, lungs and intestines.

How do you stimulate it?

Pretty easily actually.

Brief kumbhaka (breath retention) followed by a slow rechaka (exhalation) is one reliable method for vagal stimulation. Theoretically (we don’t yet have the science for the next part), asanas that release muscle tension in the neck (tension that could otherwise interfere with the vagus nerve) might do it. It’s possible that inversions, backbends, and twists also stimulate the many vagus nerve fibers in the torso and neck.

Not so sure that this little vagus nerve could be the source of your happiness? The FDA is.

A few years ago the FDA approved surgical Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) as a treatment for severe depression. The VNS device is surgically implanted into the base of the neck where it stimulates the vagus nerve—sending electrical signals to the heart, brain and other parts of the body. This intervention is now also being researched here in Australia at the Black Dog Institute.

Now that you’ve got some scientific support for your yoga practice (and particularly pranayam / breathing exercises) get thee on the mat. Stimulate your vagus and get happy.

Namaste.

 

{Editor’s note: direct compression of the vagus nerve may result in a sudden drop in blood pressure as well as fainting. Please use caution and check with your health care provider if you have any concerns. ~ KB}

 

Paula WatkinsPaula Grace Watkins lives between Sydney and Byron Bay, Australia. She’s an researcher, clinician, yoga teacher, activist, blogger and raw food fanatic. Visit her at www.thehumangarden.com.au

 

 

Like elephant health & wellness on Facebook.

 

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive. Questions? info elephantjournal com

2,712 views

Appreciate this article? Support indie media!

(We use PayPal but you don't need an account with PayPal.)

Elephriends - Mindful Affiliates

One Response to “The Key to Yoga Bliss: A Little Vagal Stimulation. ~ Paula Grace Watkins”

  1. bikram das says:

    ADB Consulting is prepared to make your simulation environment as close to the real world as possible. Using an HLA wrapper paired with a 3-D game engine, simulations can become virtual reality all the while featuring a familiar and friendly interface. For the right projects, such a set up can save lots of money by allowing users to train in a very realistic simulation.

Leave a Reply