Our tipuna (ancestors) naturally practiced vagal toning (stress management) exercises through our Māori cultural practices.
The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in regulating the body's "rest and digest" response, which is the opposite of the "fight or flight" response triggered by the sympathetic nervous system. We become better at managing stress as we practice toning our vagus nerve.
Below you'll see a list of ways you can increase your vagal tone based on scientific research.
Here are some similar ways our tipuna would relieve stress: taonga puoro (māori instruments), haka (war dance), waiata (singing), moteatea (chant), marae (communal lifestyle - connection), mau rākau (martial arts - exercise), whakakaukau awa (river bath - cold water therapy).
Often we shrink, because we feel like we can't handle the daily stresses of life.
Having lost the ways of our tipuna, many of us aren't trained to navigate discomfort in helpful ways. This means that when we feel uncomfortable emotion, we think something is "wrong" with us. As a result, we tend to get stuck, hide, or use unhealthy coping mechanisms. I want to remind you, there is NOTHING WRONG with you.
Instead of using helpful coping mechanisms such as physical movement, shifting the enegry through the Hā, or practising other emotional release activities, a lot of us can hold onto our mamae (pain) and create unhelpful stories about our experiences.
Vagal toning (nervous system regulation) and coming to know that every experience in life is for our growth are key in moving forward so we can live expansively. When stress and trials come about, we want to learn how to rise to the situation instead of shrinking.
Our tipuna knew how to get through discomfort. We were in tune with our creator, we used te taiao (natural resouces), we connected to the Hā (breath) daily, we connected with each other, we were active people, and we lived purposefully.
Let's re-learn how to self-regulate, let's accept all uncomfortable emotion that arises instead of fighting it, and let's learn how to create stories about our experiences that are helpful!!!
Here are several techniques and practices that can help tone the vagus nerve:
1.Deep breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths, especially through the diaphragm, can stimulate the vagus nerve and activate the relaxation response. The Hā Tool is a powerful way to develop a prolonged breathing habit to shift you into a parasympathetic (calming) state.
2.Meditation: Practicing mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing on the present moment and cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and feelings, has been shown to increase vagal tone.
3.Yoga: Practicing yoga postures, particularly those that involve breathing exercises, can also stimulate the vagus nerve and increase vagal tone.
4.Cold exposure: Exposure to cold temperatures, such as taking cold showers or immersing in cold water, can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which can in turn increase vagal tone.
5.Exercise: Regular exercise has been shown to increase vagal tone and improve overall health.
6.Singing, chanting, or humming: These activities can help regulate breathing and stimulate the vagus nerve.
7.Social connection: Positive social interactions and feelings of social support can increase vagal tone and improve overall well-being.
I'm excited to announce that soon I'll be opening up some workshops & coaching sessions that are a gateway to transformation.
If your uncomfortable emotions are holding you back from fully living, I know exactly how you feel. Learning how to step into discomfort (instead of fighting fear & anxiety) has dramtically changed my life. I've learnt small daily habits that have lead to big changes and helped me to play bigger in life. Follow me over the next few weeks to learn more about my story and transformation.
Hā Habit Founder | Julia Wikeepa