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What is the Vagus Nerve? Trauma

Resetting Your Vagus Nerve: Somatic Exercises for Health and Well-Being

The vagus nerve, also known as the “wandering nerve,” plays a crucial role in regulating many bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, and stress response. When the vagus nerve becomes dysregulated, it can lead to various physical and mental health issues. In this blog, we’ll explore somatic exercises that can help reset and tone the vagus nerve, promoting relaxation, stress relief, and overall well-being.

Understanding the Vagus Nerve:

The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body, running from the brainstem to various organs in the body, including the heart, lungs, and digestive system. It plays a vital role in the parasympathetic nervous system, often referred to as the “rest and digest” system, which helps regulate involuntary bodily functions and promotes relaxation and recovery.

Effects of a Dysregulated Vagus Nerve:

When the vagus nerve is not functioning optimally, it can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues, including:

  1. Anxiety and stress
  2. Digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux
  3. Heart rate irregularities
  4. Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  5. Inflammation and immune system dysfunction
crop unrecognizable person with bright eye and rare eyelashes
Photo by lil artsy on

Somatic Exercises for Vagus Nerve Health:

Somatic exercises focus on engaging the mind-body connection to release tension, improve movement patterns, and promote relaxation. Here are some somatic exercises that can help reset and tone the vagus nerve:

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Practice deep belly breathing to stimulate the vagus nerve and promote relaxation. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your diaphragm to expand and your belly to rise. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your belly to fall. Repeat for several breaths.
  2. Gentle Neck Stretches: Gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch along the side of your neck. Hold for a few seconds, then switch sides. This helps release tension in the neck and stimulates the vagus nerve.
  3. Humming and Chanting: Humming or chanting produces vibrations in the throat that stimulate the vagus nerve. Experiment with different sounds and pitches, and notice the calming effect it has on your body and mind.
  4. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense and release different muscle groups in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. Pay attention to any areas of tension or tightness and allow them to soften and relax. This promotes overall relaxation and helps regulate the autonomic nervous system.
  5. Mindful Eating: Practice mindful eating by paying attention to the sensory experience of eating, such as the taste, texture, and aroma of your food. Chew slowly and savor each bite, allowing yourself to fully experience the nourishment and satisfaction of eating. This can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system and support digestion.

Here are a few more exercises from our friend: Kati Morton

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Incorporating somatic exercises into your daily routine can help reset and tone the vagus nerve, promoting relaxation, stress relief, and overall well-being. By engaging in practices that stimulate the mind-body connection, you can support the health and function of your vagus nerve, leading to improved physical and mental health outcomes.

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