Psychology Today posted an article on May 9, 2019:
“Longer Exhalations Are an Easy Way to Hack Your Vagus Nerve” which describes in a user-friendly way why many of the practices of Riding Beyond are so beneficial, even joy-inducing.
These studies corroborate that longer exhalations are an easy way to hack the vagus nerve, combat fight-or-flight stress responses, and improve HRV.
You might be asking, “What is HRV?” Heart rate variability represents the healthy fluctuation in beat-to-beat intervals of a human or animal’s heart rate. During the inhalation phase of a breathing cycle, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) facilitates a brief acceleration of heart rate; during exhalation, the vagus nerve secretes a transmitter substance (ACh) which causes deceleration within beat-to-beat intervals via the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
HRV is used to index the robustness of someone’s vagus nerve responses and vagal tone (VT). Higher HRV is associated with stronger vagus nerve function, lower chronic stress levels, better overall health, and improved cognition.
Along with breathwork which we practice at Riding Beyond, lying on the horse’s rump stimulates the vagus nerve and encourages diaphragmatic breathing upon sitting up.