Why would working with the Vagus nerve turn on the Parasympathetic Nervous and good strong flow of tears?
In case you want to know, your parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of your heart respiration and relaxation response. It helps us to rest and digest, and to function as happy healthy, relaxed human beings when we want to and need it. Pretty nice.
Today’s lesson I had the opportunity to work with Liat focusing on her her Vagus Nerve through the whole lesson. We have been working from a few injuries in the past that whipped her neck a bit leaving her with her neck that would be much improved by stability in many healthy ways.
Our lesson today was “purely” a breathing lesson as the Feldenkrais Method® is well known for. Often, we hold our breath, therefore creating a cascade of holding throughout the whole body, and especially in hidden nooks and crannies where we might never expect, and therefore causing us angst and paining limitations. Imagine movement with holding your breath, not a good feeling, right?
I started by simply asking her to follow her breath from her chest to he upper belly. From her upper belly to her belly button area, and then to the very lowest part of her belly, right where a bathing suit line lies. While she followed her breathing, I helped guide her through the anatomy of the branches of the vagal nerve, from the base of her head to the bottom of her belly. Yes, that is how long this very amazing branching nerve travels.
She then placed one hand on the bottom of her belly and one hand on her chest to coordinate the breath connecting her breathing to both places. When this connected for her, Liat smiled and said, “Oh my goodness, my eyes are tearing a lot. Could it be from this?”
Yes, it is quite possible that this was no coincidence because we were stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. The wonderful Vagus Nerve which is intrinsically a part of the parasympathetic system wanders to many places, even into the ear area. It travels to the heart and chest area and deeply innervates the diaphragm and to the belly, its organs and all the way to the floor of the pelvis.
But, if you recall, I have talked about how all or most of our systems are all interconnected. Nothing really works alone in a vacuum. Knowing a little anatomy and some physiology helps us understand this well in this case, because it can also stimulate surrounding nerves, too. And one of them which happens to be the Trigeminal Nerve which directly innervates the eyes and their lacrimal ducts. The lacrimal ducts are in the upper lid area in charge of tear production. Sometimes it can be quite simple like stimulating this long winding Vagus Nerve just through breathing. It in turn, can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and the surrounding nerves like the Trigeminal Nerve which can activate the tear flow through the tear ducts. And voila, flowing tears just though soft connected belly and chest breathing. Don’t you just love it?
Yes, it just goes to show you what happens Vagus doesn’t stay in Vagus.
And you can bet on that!
You can also read the post on the Trigeminal Nerve and eyes here.
warmly, Elinor Silverstein