Taking time to slow down is so important for our health. Research shows being purposeful on taking time to relax holds so many benefits. One huge benefit is vagus nerve care!
The vagus nerve is the longest of our 12 cranial nerves. It traverses the entire body originating from the brain stem traveling down our spinal cord and then branching fingerlings throughout our body! When I think of the vagus nerve a mental picture of the box jellyfish or even the sea nettle forms in my minds eye.
The vagus nerve is a key player in the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is instrumental in helping regulate systems including the cardiovascular, respiratory, digestion, hormone expression and the immune system. It would take a book to explain how the vagus nerve works with its efferent and afferent pathways throughout our bodies relaying messages. I like how this author puts it as a summary, "The brain is reading and regulating your body through this nerve...The body won't function optimally unless it (vagus nerve) picks up cues of safety." The Polyvagal Theory by Dr. Stephen Porges.
One very effective way to help the vagus nerve pick up cues of safety And keep healthy vagal tone (optimal health of the nerves many branches so they can conduct clear travel; messages) is through a consistent yoga practice, especially yoga classes that offer slowing down such as Gentle, Yin and Restorative yoga.
With consistent practice, in time, practitioners know this is true through their own anecdotal reports including feeling calmer, quieter, increased clarity of thought, new ideas, decreased feelings of anxiety, increased energy, better sleep, etc.
Give gentle, restorative and/or Yin yoga a try. The suggested number of classes before deciding if you are for or against the practice is at least 10. Dedicate some of your self-care to a practice at least once per week for 10 weeks. Then tell me how you feel. :) See you on the mat at Let It Be!