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Tongue-Wagging Yoga

Yogis, Meet Your Central Vagus Nerve

Do you know what the central vagus nerve (CVN) is or where it’s located in your body? If the answer is no, you are in the majority. Until I started teaching Kundalini Yoga, I’d never heard of the CVN. I didn’t know what it was, what it did, or why it mattered.

Here’s the scoop: the CVN may be the most critical nerve in the body. It governs heart rate, digestion, sweating, and skeletal muscles. Also called the wandering nerve, this unseen part of you controls many of your bodily functions and responses.

Medical research indicates that a strong CVN can reverse severe depression, assist weight-loss, reduce epileptic episodes and cerebellar tremor and dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) in multiple sclerosis, among others things. 

So how do you find it, exercise it and get it to improve your overall health? The CVN can be exercised to “tighten it up” thus, optimize its function. Whistling, working the tongue by flapping it back and forth, mantra and certain pranayama practices are the key. You can “work it good” through use of the lips, the breath and mantra. Singing stimulates the CVN through muscles in the mouth. Even just listening can work, since the CVN connects to vocal cords and receives some sensation from the ear as well.

Yogis understood its importance centuries ago. They developed many practices to strengthen it. Yogi Bhajan, founder of 3HO and the teacher who brought Kundalini Yoga to the West, mentions it more than once in his teachings. In one specific reference, he says, “If you cannot stimulate your CVN, you are going to go nuts …” and then recommends a whistling kriya to specifically work the nerve. 

Using yoga sets to engage the tongue, mantra and pranayama do a wandering nerve good. And students love it when sets include mantra and tongue exercises! It makes the class richer and more fun. If it staves off depression, obesity, MS and epilepsy – and is so much fun – why wouldn’t you wag your own tongue? 

Lola Scarborough
Yoga Lola Studios Yoga Teacher, Life Coach, Healer, Acupressure Mat Distributor
Recommended Reading: Praana Praanee Praanayam Exploring the Breath Technology of Kundalini Yoga As Taught By Yogi Bhajan


Siri Pritam commented on 05-Jul-2010 08:03 AM3 out of 5 stars

So good to hear about that one exercise again...must include it in my next class. Thanks for digging it up

garry baker commented on 30-May-2011 05:00 AM5 out of 5 stars

My right ear pops open and closes a lot. This is an amazing exercise.

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