Vagus Nerve Exercise – Too Good to be True?

Your vagus nerve is arguably the most important single nerve in your body. And it’s certainly one of the most interesting.

It does so many things! In short, it helps rev you up and slow you down, depending upon what’s most appropriate. If you find yourself being chased by a grizzly bear, it’s time to run for your life! And if you find yourself feeling “food drunk” after having a delicious meal and staring at the flickering flames of your campfire, it’s time to sit back and relax completely. It also helps you feel social and also crave times of solitude.

Now if your vagus nerve gets “stuck,” you might have trouble relaxing. Or finding the motivation to do much of anything. Or feel like being social. Or never able to desire any amount of solitude. Or always needing to be engaged and stimulated by constantly being around others or constantly on a device—unable to pull away from things like social media.

So this exercise is one of my new favorites. It’s so simple. It takes only a few minutes to learn it and then 1-2 minutes (or less) to practice it. If your vagus nerve is “stuck in a rut,” this exercise can help you start to get out of that rut and feel more in the flow of your life again. It can be good for things like depression or anxiety and can help you feel more balanced on a daily basis.

Watch the video below to learn how to do it.  

8 Responses

  1. I enjoyed this exercise, as it was relaxing. As you mentioned, I did not notice the “response” first try, but I will keep trying because i know the research about Vagus nerve. I do notice feeling a shift in my body when I stood up. I find that often these sort of practices are subtle at first, and after awhile the effects are noticable. This is a new one for me, and I appreciate your generosity in sharing it!

    1. Hi Karen – noticing the shift in your body when you stood up is just as valid as noticing it during the exercise. Some people actually don’t notice much change until hours later while others will notice it immediately. I will say I was one of those who didn’t notice things right away, but with more practice over the years, I can notice these subtle changes much more readily.

      If you practice the exercise 2-4 times a week for a month, I would love to hear your feedback about what you’re noticing at that point.

  2. I like this exercise and having been doing it daily for probably a year. My “response” is an internal bodily sense of relief, maybe like an internal sigh, occasionally accompanied by an actual moan. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi Rhoda – I’m glad to hear that you’re already familiar with this exercise and have been doing it so long! And your response sounds very good. Like I said in the video (though I didn’t go into great detail), the response *could* be something like a sigh, yawn, belly gurgle or laugh. Sighing is very common, but literally any kind of spontaneous shift in your physical/mental/emotional state (that feels good or just neutral) can be the response.

  3. Hi Jason,
    I tried this exercise twice today. First time I can’t say I felt anything afterwards. But after I stood up the second time, as I was checking in with my body wondering if anything felt different, all of a sudden I felt my shoulders drop! Hahahahaha! Figures that is how I would respond! Thanks for reminding me about this exercise.

    1. Hi Patti – I’m glad you gave it a second try. The release can happen at such a deep level that it can be outside our current awareness. So that’s a good point to try the exercise again a few minutes later if the first time doesn’t seem to have any noticeable affect.

      And the effects are going to be unique to the individual, along some common themes. One of the most common is a sense of relaxation, or a body area relaxing that is usually chronically tense. If “all” you feel is more relaxed, then the exercise is working :)

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