In the first part of this series, we explored how singing can benefit our mood and help to relieve stress. But did you know that singing can also impact our physical health by increasing vagal tone?
The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in our body, stretching from the brainstem all the way down to the colon. It plays a crucial role in regulating our body’s involuntary processes, including heart rate, digestion, and breathing. When we activate the vagus nerve, it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and helps to counteract the effects of the sympathetic nervous system (our “fight or flight” response).
Research has shown that singing can increase vagal tone and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, and an increase in feelings of calm and well-being.
So, how does singing increase vagal tone? The answer lies in vibration. When we sing, we create sound vibrations that travel through our body. These vibrations stimulate the vagus nerve, which in turn activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
One way to increase vagal tone through singing is to practice humming. Humming creates a concentrated, steady sound vibration that can be felt in the chest and throat. This vibration stimulates the vagus nerve and helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
But to truly reap the benefits of singing for vagal tone, it’s important to learn how to produce more sound vibration with less air. This is where voice lessons can come in handy. By learning proper breathing and vocal techniques, you can increase the amount of vibration created by your singing, leading to greater activation of the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system.
So, if you’re looking to improve your physical and mental health, consider incorporating singing into your life. Whether it’s through joining a choir, singing in the shower, or taking voice lessons, the benefits of singing are clear. Not only can it help to improve your mood and relieve stress, but it can also have a positive impact on your physical health by increasing vagal tone and promoting relaxation.”