Yoga can be a great way to reduce stress, support mental and emotional health, and increase overall energy. One of the most effective and beneficial types of yoga for these purposes is Vagus Nerve Yoga. This type of yoga specifically targets the body’s main nerve center, known as the Vagus Nerve. The Vagus Nerve controls the body’s involuntary and emotional responses, so connecting to it through yoga can help to relax, energize, and regulate emotional states.
The Hands-to-Thighs Position helps to bring energy up from the lower abdomen and move it higher up into the chest and neck. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your hands resting lightly on your thighs. You can also place your hands in what is called the Jnana Mudra position. Simply place your hands together as if in prayer, and tuck your index fingers into your palms while leaving your thumbs outside. Focus on your breath, and as you inhale, stretch your spine high, point your chin slightly up, and bring your shoulder blades into the upper back. As you exhale, bring your chin down and press your hands lightly into your thighs. Repeat this several times, noticing the effects of the yoga in your body, and imagine your energy flowing throughout the body.
Seated Forward-Fold Position
In the Seated Forward-Fold Position you will focus on connecting with the abdominal area. Begin by sitting cross-legged on the floor. Place your hands as in prayer, with the index fingers tucked into the palms and the thumbs outside. Lift your chest and arch your back slightly as you inhale. As you exhale, fold your torso forward and bring your forehead to the floor. Let your chest and abdomen relax. At the same time press your hands into the floor. As you inhale, lift your chest up, hold the pose for a few breaths and then exhale as you fold your torso forward. Repeat this several times.
These two poses, combined, can help to release tension in the lumbar and neck area while also assisting in the relaxation of the Vagus Nerve. Begin on your hands and knees, spreading your fingers wide. Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. As you inhale, arch your spine, tuck your chin, and draw your chest downward (Cat Position!). As you exhale, tilt your tailbone up, round your back, and let your head drop (Cow Position!). Continue back and forth for several breaths until you feel the tension and energy in the neck, back, and even from the Vagus Nerve dissipate.
Vagus Nerve Yoga can be an incredibly powerful form of self-care. While it is only a few sample poses, these exercises can be immensely beneficial for physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Adding these poses to your yoga routine can help to open up your body, increase your energy, and serve your body and mind.