Activating the vagus nerve: 10 exercises for a better body feeling

The vagus nerve plays a huge role in the nervou

In this article you will learn:

  • How is the human nervous system structured and how does it work?
  • What is the vagus nerve and how does it affect our bodies?
  • What exercises are there to activate the vagus nerve?

Our nervous system: structure and function

So that you can understand the meaning of the vagus nerve , we will first explain what the vagus nerve actually is and what makes it up. In general it can be said that the job of nerves is to transmit impulses from the brain to the rest of the body like a data highway .

The entirety of the nervous tissue is called the nervous system . Humans have two nervous systems, the  central nervous system (CNS) with the brain and spinal cord, and the  peripheral nervous system (PNS) , which includes the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. This strict subdivision based on the location is not that easy, after all, some nerves run through different regions.

On the other hand, it becomes more understandable if one divides the nerves according to their task . This then includes the somatic nervous system on the one hand and the vegetative nervous system on the other The somatic nervous system helps humans to consciously perceive through the sensory organs and a conscious action of the muscles. The autonomic nervous system is also known as the autonomous nervous system, because it includes processes that humans cannot consciously or at most indirectly influence. These include vital functions such as heartbeat or digestion and metabolism.

There are various components in the autonomic nervous system, including the two important pathways, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. In some circles, the sympathetic nerve is referred to as the stress and performance nerve and the parasympathetic nerve as the rest and relaxation nerve.

The vagus nerve and its role in the nervous system

The vagus nerve, better known as the vagus nerve , belongs to the parasympathetic nerve and is the tenth of twelve cranial nerves. The vagus nerve begins in the nucleus of the cranial nerve in the brain, the so-called nucleus dorsalis nervi vagi, runs along the digestive system and extends into the abdomen. This wide spread makes it the largest nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system . This is what gives it its name, because the word vagus comes from the Latin word vagari , which means to wander around in German. Since the cranial nerve connects the brain with the abdomen, it plays an important role in various processes in the body. These range from digestion, the heart, gastrointestinal tract to the lungs and the nervous system.


As part of the relaxation nerve, the parasympathetic nerve, the cranial nerve itself only transmits the stimuli that the brain sends, but this can be used actively. Because by activating the vagus nerve and thus the vagus core in the brain, positive stimuli can be triggered. This activity of the vagus nerve is called vagal tone or as vagal tone called.

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The positive influence of the vagus nerve on depression and in epilepsy patients has been demonstrated in various studies and studies . There are also examinations of a patient in a vegetative state who was elicited with the help of nerve stimulation. Research is also being carried out into the influence of vagus nerve stimulation on body weight . And these are just some of the possibilities that arise from the extensive information superhighway. If you want to learn more about the vagus nerve, read our article 10 Fascinating Facts About the Vagus Nerve.

You can actively use the influence of the vagus nerve for yourself . You can use targeted measures to try to stimulate this nerve in such a way that the stimuli it transmits produce positive effects in the body’s own body. The effects can then be, for example, a smooth digestion, the alleviation of cramps in the abdominal region or targeted relaxation . We’ll show you what these measures can look like in the next section.

10 exercises to activate your vagus nerve

With the help of various exercises you can quasi activate your vagus nerve , in other words, make it send positive stimuli from the brain to the corresponding body region. If you feel insecure , suffer from the symptoms for a long time or are in pain , it is advisable to contact your family doctor and have your complaints clarified.

We are now going to show you some simple exercises that you can do without much effort or material. We also give you additional tips about activating the vagus nerve:

1. Stimulate the vagus nerve with breathing

Our breathing is much more than just taking in oxygen. Depending on your breathing, you can provoke different physical reactions. It is not for nothing that pregnant women learn breathing exercises, among other things, to literally breathe the pain during childbirth.

A simple exercise from our article Breathing exercises for the stomach: Just take a deep breath! : the belly breathing. You can use them anytime – at home, on the way to work and even in a meeting.

Place your palms on the area of ​​your stomach . Inhale and exhale deeply so you can feel your stomach rise and fall. Let your hands circle a little on your stomach with gentle pressure . Breathe in and out like this for about a minute. Take a short break and repeat this process.

2. Yoga exercises for the vagus nerve

The positive effects of yoga have been known for a long time and are proven time and again by studies. An American study suggests that yoga can also play a role in vaginal tone. If you want to test this for yourself, we have an exercise for you to relax the mind :



When meditating and practicing yoga, a person’s mind relaxes.

Lie on your back, bend your legs, feet hip-width apart. The hands lie relaxed next to the body. Now slowly raise the pelvis . The thighs are in line with the upper body. Tense your thighs, knees, calves and buttocks while keeping your abdominal muscles relaxed. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then slowly lower your hips to the floor . Repeat three times. When lifting the pelvis and while holding it, you consciously exhale calmly, as soon as you loosen the muscle tension, you inhale calmly.

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This exercise calms the mind, nerves, and body. We give you more exercises and information in our yoga section – have fun browsing.

3. Massages

You can activate the vagus nerve on different parts of the body by caressing it or by gently massaging it . One of these spots is on your neck. The vagus nerve runs near the carotid artery, i.e. on the side of your neck. Therefore, you can activate it very well with a gentle neck massage. The important keyword here is gentle, because too much pressure is rather uncomfortable.

Here you have to try out which pressure is best for you. The best way to start is by gently stroking your neck without pressure , feeling inside yourself and feeling what you like and what is good for you. Next, you can start gently stroking your neck with your fingertips and slowly working with more pressure. So you slowly move from caressing to selective massage.

Please only do as much as you feel is comfortable , if too much pressure your body reacts with tension and pain and that is exactly the opposite of what you actually want.

4. Meditation

Meditation is pure relaxation and activates your vaginal tone . You can also use the  Om singing during meditation, on the one hand to sink deeper into relaxation and on the other to activate your vagus nerve through singing.

A simple exercise is meditating with a mantra : choose a word, your mantra. It doesn’t matter what kind of word you choose. Short words such as the word “rest” are well suited. Now sit upright, for example on a chair or a meditation cushion. Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale slowly a few times. Now say your mantra a few times quietly or just in front of yourself.

Then concentrate on your word for another 15 to 20 minutes and feel its sound. Then open your eyes, loll and stretch, and come back to the here and now.

We show you more exercises in our article Finding Inner Peace – 5 meditation exercises to switch off . You can find even more inspiration in our Meditation section .

5th voice

Since the vagus nerve runs along the vocal cords and esophagus, you can activate the nerve with your voice and gurgling . Depending on your own preferences, it is enough to hum for a few minutes, or you can trill your favorite song loudly. The good thing about this is that when you sing songs that have a positive emotional impact on you, you can relax yourself even more and put a smile on your face.

Brushing your teeth should be part of your hygiene several times a day . How about adding gargling with mouthwash or water? Because with gargling you also stimulate your vagus nerve . Just give it a try!

6. Exercise to activate the vagus nerve

Doctors recommend exercising in moderation in the case of many psychological and neurological impairments . Because studies show that regular training in a sport that is fun for those affected can have a positive effect on their psyche .

Exercising not only helps to stay fit, it also makes people feel good.

Therefore, it makes sense to look for a sport that you can do with pleasure and regularly, in order to activate the vagus tone. Our contribution To Overcome Sports? It’s easier than that! Two options would be to go running or do Pilates .

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7. Sociability


You might be happy to learn now that socializing is good for your vagus nerve. Meet up with friends and family, do something together and just have a good time. These positive emotions are very good for your mental health and vagal tone , studies show. Therefore, you should enjoy this socializing with people you like as often as possible.

8. Laughing as an exercise for the vagus nerve

Laughter plays a particularly important role in positive emotions. Laughing strengthens your psyche and activates your vagus nerve , not only through the processes in the body, but also through the positive emotions that come with laughing. One possibility here is to laugh heartily on the couch in the evening while watching a comedy , instead of suffering from a drama on the TV screen.

9. Probiotics

Have you heard of so-called probiotics ? These are foods with living microorganisms that are good for your intestines. These include lactic acid bacteria or some yeasts. These are not only supposed to strengthen your intestines , but can also have an effect on the vagus nerve . After all, this connects the brain and gut, so some researchers believe that gut bacteria can affect and even improve brain function. It is worth a try, after all, probiotics definitely strengthen your intestines, your immune system and thus your health.

10. Cold & warmth

The morning shower helps you wake up, and even more if you turn the temperature a little lower. Brrr, you’re taking your breath away? After the first reflex to hold your breath in the cold, consciously pay attention to your breathing. Exhale slowly and you will find that the cold is easier to take. The cold actually helps you, because of the vagus nerve responds well to temperature stimuli . But don’t worry besides the cold, warmth will help activate your vagus nerve. Depending on what you prefer, you have the choice between cold and warm . To do this, you can try going to the sauna to see if you feel comfortable in the heat and then feel more relaxed.

How to specifically activate your vagus nerve with these exercises

The vagus nerve connects the brain with the abdomen and can thus transmit stimuli to many parts of the body. Anyone who manages to activate this widespread cranial nerve can set positive stimuli in many physical matters, such as digestion or mental health. If you have a good vaginal tone, you can relax and calm down more quickly after a stressful experience .

To do that, you need to activate your vagus nerve and train your vagus tone. You can do this with the 10 tips that include exercises and some everyday habits. Try out what is good for you and which habits can be integrated into your everyday life.

Our articles Depression and the Vagus Nerve and Vagus Nerve and Meditation offer you even more inspiration and interesting information about the vagus nerve . Have fun while reading.s system and in dealing with stress. So that this works even better, it can be activated by targeted stimuli. We’ll show you how you can do this through exercises and tips.

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