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VAGUS NERVE AND BELLY BREATHING

The VAGUS NERVE is part of our Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is the nerve system responsible for the body's rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed, resting, or feeding. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases respiration and heart rate and increases digestion.


The vagus nerve is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system and extends from the brainstem into our stomach and intestines, our heart and lungs and connects our throat and facial muscles.


It is one of the most important nerves of our body, often called "the communication highway", because it is a nerve running through the whole body connecting organs and regulating many functions in the body.


The vagus nerve is responsible for the regulation of internal organ functions, such as digestion, heart rate, and respiratory rate, as well as vasomotor activity, and certain reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting.


By stimulating the vagus nerve, you can send a message to your body that it's time to relax and de-stress, which can lead to long-term improvements emotionally in mood, wellbeing and resilience.


There are many ways of toning the vagus nerve to create balance in body and mind. Mindfulness, conscious breathing and physical posture are all ways to stimulate.


BELLY BREATHING

..is one of the best ways to soothe our vagus nerve and activate our Parasympathetic Nervous System.


Diaphragmatic, or belly breathing, is natural to all mammals (including humans). It’s a state of deep breathing that’s controlled by a large muscle in our abdomen called the diaphragm.

When you take air in through your nose, it travels into your lungs. If you take a shallow breath, only the chest cavity expands.


Breathing deeply involves more of your body — the diaphragm contracts and both the belly and chest cavity expand. Belly breathing and the “fight or flight” response to stress or anxiety (two feelings we all experience) can’t occur at the same time. When our bodies switch into “fight or flight” mode, we engage in shallow breathing. We’re ready for battle. On the other hand, belly breathing reduces our heart rate and triggers a relaxation response.

It slows us down!


How to:




  • Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. imagine your belly is a balloon that you need to inflate with deep breaths in, and deflate with every exhale.

  • Breathe in through your nose to the count of 3, noticing the hand on your belly rise, and the hand on your chest staying still. Hold for a moment.

  • Breathe out through your mouth to the count of 3, feeling the hand on your belly sink down. the hand on your chest remains still.

You can invite your child (and yourself!) to do this type of belly breathing any time of the day, if they feel stressed or anxious.

Breathing with your belly will relax the body after just a few breaths, you can do 5-10 breaths or as many as you feel like. Belly breathing can be done sitting, lying, standing, walking; anywhere and anytime!


ADD A FUN VERSION TO BETTER FEEL THE EFFECT OF BELLY BREATING:


For fun and easy understanding of why belly breathing is good you could invite the child to place a paper or toy boat on their belly.

  1. First invite them to breath fast and shallow and watch how the boat is being tossed around, it might even tip over.

  2. Then do the deep, slow belly breathing, and watch how the boat goes up and down, steady and calm.

  3. Now you can talk about which boat you prefer to be sailing on?....




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