Last weekend I trained with Eddie Stern who was an inspiration and intellectually more stimulating and enlightening in the few hours than I could have imagined anyone to be. His main lecture was on the parasympathetic nervous system, the one we indulge in during our yoga practice. 80% of this system is made up of the Vagus nerve, the oldest branch of the nervous system. This nerve is a wanderer – a vagabond - and stimulates lots of things: the bronchial, larynx, heart, lungs, diaphragm, stomach, liver, pancreas, kidney, and intestines.
Why is this related to yoga? At a very basic level, when we lengthen the exhalation, we engage the parasympathetic nervous system which is almost totally synonymous with the vagus nerve – 80%. A strong vagus nerve means a strong immune system, digestive system, blood function and heart function. It will protect us from inflammation in the body and therefore from certain diseases. It also means good emotional balance. If you have stress or anxiety, high blood pressure, back pain, diabetes, just as a few examples, these are dysfunctions of some part of the nervous system for which doctors may give pills but you can also work on bringing back balance yourself. Your Vagal Nerve might already be really strong in which case you’re a ‘vagal superstar’
Yes, Eddie’s lecture was detailed – apparently a four-day lecture in a couple of hours. The hallelujah message is that everything we do in yoga tones and strengthens the Vagus nerve: breathing with lengthened exhalation, breathing with sound, posture practice and chanting. Yoga works on treating the underlying factors to bring balance to the body. Hurray! If you want a little more on this, here is a Q&A article by Eddie on the vagus nerve which sums up his lecture. The more I find out about yoga the more I find how rich and clever it is!
There has been a lovely little flood of new yogis coming to the home studio. It’s such a joy to welcome new people here. I have had new music to play in class which includes Krishna Das Baba Hanuman and Anne Malone Aad Guraynamey Chill. Kino MacGregor will make a comeback next week. Last night we discussed doing another introduction to Mysore so let me know if that’s something you’d like to experience. For next week, see what’s available here. (I update this every Friday before posting this email.) You can book here.
Have a root around this website if you want to find out about my retreats, read previous blogs, want to introduce yoga into your workplace, or want to download an Ashtanga chart or Legs-up-the-wall sequence.
Yoga in the news
The London Marathon is next weekend so I thought this might be useful: Five Moves To Help You Recover After Long Runs from Coach Magazine. (Actually, come to a Monday or Tuesday class here instead!). The independent this week tells us that Adidas has launched a yoga clothes collection made from recycled ocean plastic. Actually, it’s ‘infused, with plastic but that might mean it lasts longer in better condition. It might be good for swimming in!