How's your vagus nerve doing today? Not sure? You can use heart rate variability testing to determine one's vagal tone and it's also used as an an indicator of general health. A high HRV correlates to better health and longevity while a lower HRV indicates being in a stress state and overall poorer health.
But you may not have access to HRV testing equipment. So here's a simple test you can do yourself at home to indicate how your vagus nerve is functioning! Grab a flashlight and stand in front of a mirror. Open your mouth wide and say 'ah,ah,ah,ah' in short bursts. See that thing hanging down at the back of your throat? It's called an uvula and if you have good vagal tone at the moment, it will lift up evenly when you say ah, ah, ah. (You may need to use your finger to press your tongue down so you can see your uvula.) If it doesn't raise up or leans to one side or the other, your vagus nerve is exhibiting some dsyfunction and it's time to slow down, breathe deep and maybe set up an appointment with me!
This simple technique is from the wonderful book Accessing the Healing Powder of the Vagus Nerve by Stanley Rosenberg.
And the discussion about the VAGUS NERVE continues...Did you know there are 2 branches to the vagus nerve with different functions?
The older, mammalian branch is called the dorsal branch. Its function is to keep us frozen as an adaptive mechanism to help us survive to either fight or flight again. Unfortunately, one can also get stuck in this mode if you've experienced trauma or your body is continually in overdrive.
The newer myleninated ventral branch is responsible for 'the good life' where your body's immune response is healthy, you are engaged with others and you feel calm and grounded.
Activating your vagus nerve using bodywork such as massage or reflexology are great yet a daily routine of deep and slow breathing, humming or chanting, laughter yoga, meditation or splashing cold water on your face can keep your vagus nerve in good shape!
And here's another tidbit about our lovely vagus nerve...
One of the most important neurotransmitters to support brain function is acetylcholine. It is released by the VAGUS NERVE to help support your heart rate, breathing, digestion, detoxification, brain function and movement.
Stimulating the VAGUS NERVE with natural, non-invasive methods can support the release of acetylcholine, and with it, optimal function of your brain, including clear focus, strong memory and enhanced decision making.
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