April 28th 2009 - Introducing the Vagus Nerve
Lola M. Scarborough, February 20, 2009
Read the article and see the pictures related thereto, on-line at www.yogalola.com, March 2009 Newletter.
Do you know what the central vagus nerve (VN) is or where it’s located in your body? If the answer is no, you are in the majority.
Until I started teaching Kundalini Yoga, I’d never heard of the VN. I didn’t know what it was, what it did, or why it mattered.
So, you ask, what about it?
• It may be the most critical nerve in the body. This unseen part of ourselves controls so many of our bodily functions and responses that it is astounding that many of us have no knowledge of it!
• The VN needs to be exercised in order for us to thrive. Fortunately, there are many ways to “tighten it up” to optimize its health.
• Practicing Kundalini Yoga allows us to “work it good” through use of the lips, the breath, and mantra .
The Vagus Nerve
What it is and what it does:
The VN is either one of two cranial nerves which are extremely long, extending from the brain stem … to the viscera. [It is also called] … the Wandering Nerve.
… this nerve, which emerges at the back of the skull meanders … through the abdomen, with a number of branching nerves coming into contact with the heart, lungs, voicebox, stomach, and ears, among other body parts. It carries incoming information from the nervous system to the brain, … it … governs a range of reflexes.
It helps regulate the heart beat, control muscle movement, … breathing, and transmits a variety of chemicals...
Science and Technology
Science and technology rediscovered the VN, and now manipulate these nerves to relieve symptoms for various medical conditions. A device named the Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) is implanted in patients to shock the VN to change the body’s responses. Drawbacks are that it requires surgical implantation and has side effects .
VN stimulation helps:
• Severe depression.
Studies … indicate … [it helps] patients who haven’t had a positive long-term response to commonly available treatments.
• Cerebellar tremor and dysphagia in multiple sclerosis.
Results … [indicate that it] may represent a novel form of treatment in patients with severe MS.
… the majority of people who use VNS experience fewer seizures
Pranayama and mantra help keep the VN vital.
Most patients could be taught both of these VN-stimulating breaths and benefit from it.
• Breath of fire
• Whistle breath
Yogis understood the VN centuries ago, long before modern medicine rediscovered it. Yogis knew practicing pranayama/mantra strengthen the VN. (Yogi Bhajan discusses the VN’s role in his teachings).
Most patients could be taught simple mantras to use.
… chanting, listening and vocalizing, stimulate[s] the VN through muscle movements in the mouth …
Education about the VN and how to maintain it naturally could help break a dependency on technology. It would also put the health care back into the right hands – those of the self.
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