Self Care Class 4pm Sat 6 November: The Vagus Nerve and the Relaxation Response

At the Self Care Class tomorrow we will practice asana and pranayama to stimulate the vagus nerve.  This neural pathway facilitates your ability to find calm.  The asanas and pranayama we will practice tomorrow will be carefully chosen to activate the relaxation response.  It will be nurturing, relaxing and done with a view to cultivating awareness.  Here is some interesting information about the Vagus nerve to give you some context before the class.

The Vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve.  It’s known as the ‘wandering nerve’ because of it’s wide distribution within the body.   

The Vagus nerve is the largest cranial nerve that relays messages between the brain and the respiratory, digestive and nervous systems.  Your breathing, digestion and heart rate are all directly connected to the Vagus nerve.  It influences many things including facial expression, brain hormones, the gut and all the other organs in the abdomen e.g. the liver, kidney and spleen. 

This neural pathway facilitates your ability to find calm. It does this by activating the relaxation response of the para sympathetic nervous system.

The para sympathetic nervous system (PNS) is one of the two antagonistic systems making up the autonomic nervous system (ANS).  The parasympathetic nervous system promotes the ‘rest and digest’ response, and corresponds with calming the body and enhances digestion.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) promotes the ‘fight and flight’ response and corresponds with arousel and energy generation.  It alerts us to stressful situations and activates our body's response mechanisms.  

 ‘The system primes the body to deal with emergencies.  The vast majority of people are stressed and live in environments of stress.  In this state, the sympathetic nervous system is constantly switched on.  This results in increased levels of the hormone cortisol.  The consequences of this include high blood pressure, increased risk of infection, weight gain, and heart rhythm irregularities.  It also increases the sensitivity to pain, aggravates the symptoms of fibromyalgia and insomnia, and in those generally predisposed, can increase the incidence of auto immune disease.’[1]

 When we stimulate the Vagus nerve, we help the body come into it’s ‘relaxation response’, which decreases inflammation, anxiety and stress. 

The response to vagal nerve stimulation can be measure in a number of ways including an increase in lung capacity and an increase in heart rate variability.

The Vagus nerve is also called the nerve of emotion says Ashtanga teacher and scholar Eddie Stone.  “It impacts whether you feel safe and protected in a secure grounded place. This is why practices that tap into this nerve can improve one’s state of mind and overall sense of comfort while reducing stress and inflammation.”[2]

 Low ‘vagal tone’ indicates stress and is characterised by anxiety, negativity, weak digestion, depression, and inflammation.  Optimal ‘vagal tone’ is illustrated by our ability to manage stress denoted by a balanced disposition and psychological well-being.   Yoga has a lot to offer in this area.  Asana, meditation and pranayama can help build resilience and adaptability which allows you to minimise anxiety and move through daily life with ease.

The asanas we practice at the Self Care Saturday Class stimulate and tone the vagus nerve.

Breathing is one of the fastest ways to stimulate the vagus nerve.  The Pranayama we will do in the Self Care class, called Brahmari, is very specific to vagal stimulation.

I hope you will join me to devote some time for self care tomorrow.  All levels welcome in the studio, or online.  You will be very welcome.

Use this link to book: 


[1] Vegus Nerve – Dr Daniel Lewis

[2] The Vagus Nerve and Why it Matters in Yoga – Yoga for Modern Life.



Other articles:

January Intensive 2022

21-24 January

The New year provides a clean slate, which I just love, and the opportunity to start  with a fresh attitude, new goals and a clear path forward.  Each year I hold the January Intensive with the intention of offering students a format which allows us to explore and study our yoga in more depth, to create some new ways of looking at our practice and to set some goals for the coming year.  Please join me on the following dates for the 2022 January Intensive:

Friday 21 January - 6.30am-8.00am and 5.45-7.15pm
Saturday 22 January - 8.00-10.00am and 4.30-6.00pm
Sunday 23 January - 8.00am-10.00am and 4.30-6.00pm
Monday 24 January - 6.30am-8.00am and 5.45-7.15pm.

Setting Goals Workshop - Saturday 22 January 10.30-11.30am.


8 sessions - $200
6 sessions - $165
4 sessions - $120.


I'm so happy to be offering the Intensive again to push through old habits and start with a fresh and positive mindset for 2022.  I hope you will join me.

Use this link to book your pass for the 8 sessions of the Intensive.  With the pass you receive the Setting Goals Workshop free of charge.  Bookings for 4 or 6 sessions will be through the studio direct.

Pranayama Workshop 22 Sept 6.00-7.00pm and Sat 25 Sept 7.00-8.00am

Pranayama - the art of directing and channelling the breath

Pranayama is a very subtle and specific way of working in our yoga practice.  It requires that we are sensitive, observant and patient.  We may not yet have these qualities, and we may not yet fully understand the breathing exercises practised in Pranayama, but Pranayama is a great teacher.  


We grow when we learn.  During lockdown our living rooms can be transformed into areas of great learning and growth.  We don't even have to leave home to learn new things!  Things move and grow when we direct our focus and attention on them.  The Yoga Room is committed to providing opportunities for learning.  But learning also requires focus and action.  Action to step onto the mat and actually DO the practice.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't even have to be pleasant.  The effects of practising Pranayama will be there anyway.  If you wish to join Fiona's workshop, the link is below - click on the pranayama class in the schedule.  I encourage you to take that action and seep yourself in what Pranayama has to offer.



Why do Yoga?

Hi there beautiful yogis!

The school holidays are upon us and hopefully some sunny weather.  Gardens are looking wonderful and Spring gives us the flavour of fresh, new life.

Like the freshness of Spring, our external environment can change our perspective.  The only problem is that our external environment, the world around us, is always changing.  Sometimes we don't like what we see in front of us.  It's too cold, too hot, too hard, not enough ...  the list goes on.  We don't have control over our external environment.  But we do have control over our internal environment:  our thoughts, what we choose to focus on, and our internal stories.  The practice of yoga and pranayama teaches us to sit quietly and observe.  To watch our tendencies and our habits and the way we interact with the world.  By practising yoga, pranayama and meditation (3 of the 8 limbs), we build the skills to be present.  We learn to sit quietly with what goes on around us and, over time,  we are less reactive.  Our external environment no longer pulls us in so many different directions.  We are less distracted, more steady, more able to 'see' with a calm and grounded perspective.  The world will always be changing and fluctuating, but the question is how will you move through the world?  How can you sit in your 'centre' or your 'Self' rather than being pulled away?  This is a big question.

We are wired to move towards pleasure, or away from pain.  If we go with this, it may work for a short time.  There is a syndrome called 'shiny new objects'.  Most of us love a bit of this.  A new dress bought online, new tools for the shed, a better table for the kitchen, or even a new kitchen!  All of this is fine, but it's never enough.  A new dress or tools don't actually make us happy in the long term.  A new car doesn't keep us fulfilled for years on end.

So what's the answer?  We can only answer this question for ourselves.  For me the answer lies in two areas.  The first is to work on the inside - to cultivate a steady 'Self' so coping with the outside stuff is less overwhelming.  LIfe will always throw stuff at us that we don't like, usually when you least expect it.  The second is to keep learning and growing.  

Both of these take a lot of effort and we live in a society where effort is not valued.  The quick fix, the easy way, the most pleasant etc etc etc.  I had a conversation last week with my teacher Alan Goode.  He made the comment that practising Iyengar Yoga has become more at odds with the world.  Iyengar Yoga asks that you get on the mat and practice.  It's a practice-based form of learning.  When you step onto the mat, you may not like what you see.  It may be difficult emotionally, physically, and in all sorts of ways.  There is no music, no bells and whistles.  It's just you and the practice - asana, pranayama, meditation.  But if you do your class and a little regular home practice, if you sit quietly for a few mins every day, you see things about yourself that you don't see reflected back to you in a new kitchen or a new dress.  You learn things about yourself by showing up and observing.  To show up is for most of us the hardest thing of all.  To be consistent, to go against what the world values, is to tread the path of yoga in a very personal way.  To be curious enough to learn; to do your class, whether you feel like it or not, to practise pranayama, when it makes you want to scream and run out of the room, to sit and watch yourself, without reacting, is often the hardest thing you will have to work on in life.  The hint of spring, the ray of light that comes out of this consistency, is the opportunity to learn and progress and to be steady and content in yourself.  To cultivate the internal landscape is such a challenge, but its rewards are immense.  For me, the practice I have done over the years has taught me a lot about myself.  I am still very much a beginner and I am still learning.  Learning how to accept what is, learning to be grateful with what I have, letting go of what I thought would happen.  This is why I practise Yoga.  

If you wish to join me, and many other yoga practitioners, in this endeavour, jump on the mat and keep practising.  The key is consistency - a little over a long period of time.  I've never heard anyone say they regretted the time they spent on the mat.




Self Care Saturday 7 August

Class 4.00-5.30pm this Saturday

Taking time out and looking after our physical and mental health is so important at the moment.  This Saturday I will teach a steady, quiet class to calm the nervous system, allowing ourselves times to stop doing, thinking, working, reacting, and anything else that is taking up head space.  

The class is open to all levels and will support immune health as well as creating time to be still and experience a more silent internal landscape.

Book using your pass or come along as a casual and pay on the day.  Booking link below.  See you on the mat!!

Classes are back in Studio as well as Online

A quick post to confirm that all our classes are being taught in the studio, as well as online.  As students, you have great flexibility to choose how you wish to attend your classes.  Having online and studio options set up, allows us to keep classes running during lockdowns.  If you wish to attend online, please book via punchpass with the link below.  If attending in the studio, please use punchpass if possible, or email me to signal your attendance and I will reserve a place for you.

I know it's been a tough time for some of our yoga community and I know that it's tempting to let your yoga practice take a back seat.  Dust yourself off, move it to the front, and keep yourself calm and grounded as life continues to dip up and down.  

A regular class provides a stable point amongst the uncertainty we are experiencing.  Should you be experiencing hardship, please email me for assistance to attend your regular classes.

See you on the mat!


 Link to Book: