Get InformedVagus Nerve Eye Gaze Exercise

Vagus Nerve: Eye Gaze Exercise

26 June 2024

This exercise was developed by Stanley Rosenberg. It is believed that it stimulates the vagus nerve which in turn, can initiate a relaxation/parasympathetic response.

Catherine Wells

Catherine Wells

Occupational Therapist

The vagus nerve is a really important part of signalling to your brain and body that you are safe and that you are not in a dangerous situation.

Once this safety is communicated, the brain can make a cascade of changes in the body, putting the brake on the stress response and allowing us to feel less overwhelm and more calm, centred and grounded.

You’ll probably also notice that your breathing is slower and your heart rate has slowed down a little.

This exercise can be done laying down or sitting. You may want to try it laying down at the beginning as the effect can be greater.

The more you practice this exercise, the quicker and stronger the effects will be. Like anything - with practice our body learns!

How to: Vagus Nerve Eye Gaze Exercise

  1. While seated, turn your head to the left and right - notice any tension, stiffness and current comfortable range of motion. You can compare this after the exercise is completed as tension may be reduced in this area.
  2. Interlock your fingers. 
  3. Put your hands behind your head so that your thumbs touch the base of your neck. Imaging you are cradling your head in your palms. If you are lying down - notice the support for your head and notice the weight through the hands.
  4. Look toward one of your elbows (without moving your head) for 1 minute or until your feel your mouth watering, or the need to sigh, yawn, or take a deep breath. To layer on another beneficial activity - try breathing into your belly while engaging on this practice.
  5. Come back to the centre and rest. You may need a minute to get your bearings.
  6. Repeat for the other elbow. 
  7. Come back to the centre and rest.


Bonus - Add on some Butterfly Breathing

Similar to the Butterfly Hug, this bilateral stimulation and regulation of breath can be helpful in signalling safety to the body.

  • Hook thumbs and tap one side at a time near collarbone.
  • Sync your taps with your breathing - I like inhale for four, exhale for four.
  • Allow the timing of the taps to work for you. 



Get Inspired Further

Vagus Nerve Daily Toning Activities

Try these Vagal Nerve toning activities that you can easily fit into your daily routine. Strengthening your vagal nerve has many benefits including better stress management, emotional regulation, and overall well-being

Spotlight Network Personnel

Network Personnel deliver training and employment initiatives throughout Northern Ireland, Cavan and Monaghan.

Lets talk about the Vagus Nerve

Let's dive into the fascinating world of the vagus nerve. Ever heard of it? If not, you're in for a treat because it's a big player in taking us from the stress response, back into the relaxation response.


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