By Karolina Kozlova, PT, DPT
Have you ever noticed that therapists like to put a big emphasis on breathing patterns? Yoga instructors and exercise gurus are always talking about the importance of breathing in/out but the focus is usually to take a deep breath and SLOWLY breath out. Why do you think that is?
The answer is that it all has to do with the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in your body. The vagus nerve (translated as the “wandering nerve” in Latin) is known for connecting your brain to many important organs throughout your body. It’s one of the main keys and influencers for your breathing patterns, digestive function and heart rate, all of which impact your overall mental health.
Because the vagus nerve plays an important role in your parasympathetic nervous system which is also known as the “rest and digest” system, we need to look at the “tone” of the nerve, which is the internal biological process that represents the activity of this nerve. When the tone of the vagus nerve increases and activates your parasympathetic nervous system, this causes your body to relax faster, reducing stress in the process as well as breathing rate and heart rate variability.
One way to increase activity of your vagus nerve is by deep and slow breathing. Usually, people breath anywhere from 10-14 breaths each minute. By decreasing your breathing to 6 breaths/minute, it can help your body reach a state of relaxation and decrease your overall heart rate.
There are more ways to stimulate your wandering nerve. Stay tuned to my next column for more about the wandering nerve and how it can impact your health.
Do you or a loved one have a neurological condition and don’t know where to find expert care? Dr. Karolina Kozlova, Neurologic Clinical Specialist is accepting new patients.
Don’t waste another moment. Call 603.644.8334 and asked to be scheduled with Dr. Kozlova today, and get the expert care that you deserve.