Over the past few weeks, I keep seeing it: The Vagus Nerve. And Vagal Breathing. Given my training in hypnosis and years of meditation, it seems odd to me now that have not heard these terms before, but I’ll admit: it is the first time I’ve her these terms. Or at least it’s the first time I’ve been consciously aware of them. And so, I’ve been doing some research and thought I’d share my findings!
I have been practicing vagal breathing for years, as it turns out, without knowing its official name. It is the style of breathing where you breathe in deeply, hold, then exhale slowly and completely for about twice as long as your inhale. Most commonly, it is in for 4 or 5 and out for 8 or 10 seconds. Regardless of the amount of time, the focus is on the exhale.
So why am I suddenly so into this? Because of the science behind it!
The Science of the Vagus Nerve
I’ve been practicing it for a few years now, since I first learned about 4-7-8 breathing. Yet I now understand why it is so effective.
The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves. It communicates motor and sensory impulses to every organ in our bodies. It is essentially responsible for the mind-body connection.
When the vagus nerve is not working properly, it can lead to many problems, including obesity, anxiety, chronic inflammation, just to name a few.
Research shows that deep breathing (vagal breathing) activates the vagus nerve in a number of ways to improve body function. It can also reduce or diminish the fight or flight response that is the root of anxiety.
How does the vagus nerve relate to hypnosis?
Vagal breathing is often used in hypnosis. In fact, as I lead my clients into a hypnotic state, I guide them through vagal breathing. It is a natural stress reliever, like hypnosis itself, so it makes sense that they go hand in hand.
It can also be used as a form of self-hypnosis to easily help you out in stressful situations. Practicing this breathing can help in the moment and can be done anywhere. It can also improve your overall health when used regularly.