Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Happens in Vagus...

by Lisa Beach, Ph.D.
No....Not this Vegas!

Did you know you can use your access to your own vagus nerve to stimulate a relaxation response any time you need to?
Follow these easy steps: 
1. When you breathe deeply into your belly, it stimulates the vagus nerve, which then sends a message to the brain telling it to make the body relax. Stress hormone production is reduced, and other physiological stress effects (like capillary constriction, muscle tension, decreased digestion, etc.) are improved as well. The result? In the moment, you feel better and in the long-term you help prevent disease. (You may need to practice this laying down at first)
As if you need another reason…
2. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, and the body is able to focus more on digestion, nutrients are absorbed more effectively. If we look at it in the opposite direction: when you’re stressed, your body is not absorbing nutrients properly, so you can have the healthiest diet going and be completely malnourished.  Take a few deep belly breaths before you chow down, and you set yourself up to use the nutrients you’re eating.
You can also practice soft belly breathing with a guide. Dr. James Gordon of the Center for Mind Body Medicine (CMBM) developed a soft belly guided meditation and you can find it here

Let me know if you try it out!


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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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