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Dr. Gaurang Ramesh


July 16, 2023

Effective natural ways to Activate your Vagus Nerve

There are some simple exercises and practises which can help stimulate your vagus nerve without the use of any expensive equipment. Follow these steps every day for the best results

Breathing Exercises

  • The first and most effective way to stimulate your vagus nerve is to take correct breaths.
  • Rapid and shallow breathing is a sign of sympathetic activation, which in turn is a sign of stress.
  • Slow, deep and belly breathing is a sign of parasympathetic stimulation which signifies restfulness.

Do this simple test to see if your breathing method is correct.

Paradoxical breathing test

Sit straight up in a chair or lie down with your back on the floor. Place your right hand on the centre of your chest and place your left hand on the centre of your belly. Now take a deep breath in. If your right hand is moving more than your left, then you are breathing incorrectly.

During the inhalation, our bellies should be rising and falling more than our chest is, so if we are breathing correctly, our left hand should be rising and falling more than our right hand.

Here are simple steps to practise the correct method of breathing 

  • Sit up straight without allowing your back to rest against anything
  • Exhale completely to remove all air from your lungs
  • Put your right hadn’t on your chest and your left hand on yo belly, just above your belly button.
  • Take a deep breath through your nose for five to seven seconds, allowing only your belly to rise (feeling only your left hand rising).
  • Hold that breath for two to three seconds
  • Exhale through your mouth for six to eight seconds, allowing your belly to fall (feeling only your left-hand falling)
  • Hold your breath, without any air entering your lungs, for two to three seconds
  • Repeat steps 4 through 7 as often as you feel comfortable or for a set period.

Take five minutes per day to practise deep belly breathing. For best results, perform this practice multiple times per day, especially during periods of stress.

Breathing patterns during sleep

In order to ensure correct breathing during sleep, a simple method called mouth taping can be used, which involves putting a piece of tape over your mouth to seal your lips ensuring airflow through your nasal passage.

This over time has a positive influence on the nasal microbiome and cells lining the nasal cavity.


Here are some simple tips to ensure a good night’s rest

  • Eliminate blue light exposure

Try to avoid using all electronic gadgets after sunset. If there is a need to use these devices, blue light exposure can still be reduced by using features such as enabling the night shift on apple devices or the twilight app on android devices

Download f.lux on your computer – Mac/windows

  • Don’t eat or drink too late
  • Follow good sleep hygiene – ensure your sleep environment is optimal
  • Sleep on your side

Cold Exposure

Periodic cold exposure is one of the best and easiest ways to activate and heal a lost vagus nerve.

The simplest way to incorporate this into your life is to add cold exposure to your showers

At the end of a normal shower, turn down the temperature to the minimum and let it hit your head and back of your neck. Though this might be uncomfortable, try to take deep breaths. With time you’ll be able to enjoy this with a smile on your face.

Relaxation techniques

  • Humming and chanting

Chanting of the syllable “OM” stimulates the laryngeal muscles of the throat and vocal cords allowing stimulation of motor fibres of the vagus. Other simple words such as Amin, Ameen, and Amen can also be used.

  • Meditation

This is the art of paying attention to your breath and listening to your heart.

Guided audio meditation either through YouTube or other apps like Headspace or Calm can be used.

  • Yoga and Pilates

Yoga involves maintaining a steady breathing pattern with a body held in different positions. Each of these positions engages the body with a different type of physical stressor. If we can train ourselves to maintain a slow deep belly breathing during these times of physical stress we can stimulate the vagus nerve.

  • Listening to Music

Sunlight exposure

It is recommended you get outside and get direct sunlight on your skin each day. The best time to get outside is within 30 minutes of sunrise, 2 or 3 times a day and within 30 minutes of sunset.

Laughter and social connectedness

Laughter involves using our diaphragm and steady control of our breath, hence this can be called an exercise of the vagus nerve and also it elevates our mood.

Social connectedness is directly involved with laughter as we are more likely to laugh loudly in the presence of our near and dear ones.

Gargling and Gag reflux

The best time to stimulate gag reflux is while brushing your teeth; You can use the toothbrush to touch your soft palate to cause a gag response. It can be done twice a day. This voluntary gag can stimulate the vagus nerve

Gargling involves the art of holding water at the back of your throat and swishing it around with vigour. This causes activation of three pharyngeal muscles which stimulates the vagus nerve. It has additional benefits like eliminating unwanted bacteria if done with salt water or water containing essential oils


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