The following is a synopsis of the Relax Go to Sleep program I’ve crafted for “the dude,” a successful artist and Type A personality with some habits I think we can all identify with. After assessing his needs, and teaching him some valuable lessons, we started a routine together to down-regulate and relax.

First, I suggested he take into account things that induce relaxation, not only for our session together but especially during his home program. I advised him to get comfortable, stay warm, find stillness, recline, surround himself with quiet,  darkness, and swaddle as much of his body as possible.

We started the “exercise” program standing at a wall, using the original Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball, we proceeded with “Erector Eraser,” manipulating the ball in a zig-zag motion up and down one side of the spine at a time. This mildly active movement proved to be a great warm up for his body and psychology and we added gentle humming as a way to further stimulate the vagus nerve.

Spinal erectors travel the length of the spine

The next lesson was to massage areas of his body which are innervated by the vagus nerve and in turn provide a relaxation response.  I use the Coregeous® ball for this sequence to create roominess, freedom, and a pliable belly.  I learned during evaluation that his abdominal muscles are quite strong like steel, but not functional as they never seem to change their tone.  I have him lie prone, ball at navel center, and instruct tubular core with subsequent exhale to allow the ball to penetrate into the layers of abdominal fasciae.

Then, using the same ball, trace the colon by the ball rolling up the ascending colon (on right side of tummy), across the transverse colon going toward the left, and down the left side of belly (descending colon). I encouraged him to roll smoothly and slowly creating compression on the viscera.  Next is to place the ball at sternum and roll it side to side across his chest and upper ribcage, even out to his armpit area. This creates a slight rocking which also induces a relaxation response.

I taught him the neck release from The Roll Model® including neck release on block which gently oscillates the head, masseter release, and the temple tamer.


At the end of our sessions, I could see that I had lost him into a gently snoring slumber. It was heartening and reassuring for me to see that my assessment and program had helped him relax and go to sleep!

Shari Williams

Shari is a Yogi and a Scientist. It's her passion for the practice of yoga which fuels her desire to teach. She has direct experience of healing and the significant transformation yoga offers & specifically the increase in strength and joint mobility Yoga Tune Up(R) provides. You will be presented with instruction firmly rooted through her education in kinesiology. The study of human movement. as well as her vast athletic, energetic and Yogic understanding. She has 30 years of teachng and practice experience, Shari knows yoga! She has a developed "eye" to see nd enlighten you to your body's blind spots. Being a lover of the human form and compassionate about the nuance of human condition you will find her warm and accessible. she is hands on (yet respectful if this is not your choice) assisting you develop healthful alignment, the foundation to build your postures. She loves life and enjoys being in nature, hiking in the woods, or biking through the forest. Yoga practice with Shari will enhance your life, give you more time in the day through enhanced energy, self esteem and well-being. She is available for private sessions, workshops, and teaches weekly classes at the Golden Mandala Collective in Nevada City, California.

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I was almost feeling the sensation of the corgeous ball massaging my abdominal. The sequence that you made him practice seems so logic. I like your idea of making him humming while he’s rolling! I will keep this one!

Kelly Cameron

Thank-you Shari! This is a great article! When we listen to our clients needs and apply our training in creative ways the results are powerful. Thank-you for reminding me that listening to our clients is the first step. I love your creativity in how and why you came up with this sequence focusing on the vagus nerve. Well done! =:0)

Saori Soga

Thank you Shari for this helpful article! I had no idea that rolling the front of the body helps too. I’m definitely going to try that neck sequence with the block shown in the video, as I e been having trouble sleeping & didn’t want to go to sleeping aid route. Thank you again for sharing! 🙂


Massaging the suboccipital muscles like Jill is doing is probably one of my favorite thing to do to calm down and ensure my chances of a restful sleep!


Thanks for the abdominal series to stimulate the vagus nerve


What an an amazing integration of modalities. Of course the Vagus nerve stimulates so why not give it some attention and work with it rather than… I will give this a try as I struggle with getting enough restorative sleep.

Christopher Malabanan

I would have never have thought to use the yoga tune-up balls and coregeous ball to activate the vagus nerve. It makes sense though to massage/outline the parts of the body where the nerve travels. In doing so, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated and the heart rate is lowered. Of interest to me is the use of tubular core to facilitate this process. For some people, like me, it’s still quite the learning process to keep the core engaged while breathing and being effortless. I can imagine that once the incorporation of tubular core with breath comes with ease… Read more »


Thank you for this! I’ve heard of gut smashing to innervate the vagus nerve and have tried using the coregeous ball for this purpose, but your explicit directions and sequencing are much more thoughtful than what I had been doing. Can’t wait to try! I also enjoy some of the systematic contraction and relaxation techniques used in Qigong. Have you ever tried Qigong for down regulation? If not, something new to consider! Thanks again -Harriet


The Vagus Nerve is such a wild one. Humming is a great way to stimulate where VN innervates the trachea. For, as you describe a “successful artist and Type A personality,” how profoundly illuminating it can be for him to feel what rest, digest, and heal feels like so that, in time, he can work toward better digestion, less inflammation, less propensity toward injury or disease, more creativity, sleep better, and also possibly bypass a heart attack in twenty years. HUGE!


I love that you set the tone and space for relaxation, before going into the work and that you cue him to set the tone for himself in his home routine. Again, I love the attention I find given to the vagal nerve scattered throughout these blogs!


Wow..that is so cool! That is an interesting way to really dive in and connect with your breath to the neck and to the belly! Great work!

Tessa Watson

I am glad to have read your series, it has been useful in hearing about your progression with this client. I hope to read something in the future of his continued experience with the instruction and guidance. Thank you for sharing of yourself so much. Namaste

Anne Ondrey

LOVE adding the humming to the erector eraser!

Dejia B.

It was really interesting to read about the combination of adding a humming to the rolling to help further stimulate the vagus nerve and then to help further connect breath and belly together to reach ultimate relaxation (sleep). I’m really curious about the sound aspect in combination with rolling – is this something you learned in the bliss immersion? I haven’t come across that yet in my YTU materials, but I’m only about 1/2 through my Level 1 training. 🙂 Thanks!

Wendy Hensley

If I only have a few minutes I like to down regulate doing the suboccipitals muscles, upper erectors, and mastoid process. Then I melt into the mat in total relaxation.

Peggy Stevens

One of my issues is going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting a full night’s sleep. Generally, I find that as I get to that reasonable hour I am wide awake and not ready to go to sleep. By the time 2:00 or 3:00 AM roll around I am finally feeling tired enough to go to bed. I often times get there and don’t seem to be able to fall asleep right away. I have found concentrating on my breath helps. Also mentally listing the people and things that I am grateful for in my life. I am… Read more »

Rebecca Tamm

Love these tips, I’ve been having trouble falling (and staying) asleep lately. Definitely going to start adding a sequence at bed time with the balls.


Thank you for posting about some different techniquesto use the yoga therapy balls to induce relaxation in preparation for SLEEP!-very helpful!

Melissa J

I was excited to see part 3. How amazing it is to see the progression of your client. I have been learning so much from you and him its awesome. I really did not think of humming of buzzing up at the same time as rolling to excite the vagus nerve how genius. It sounds like he finally relaxed and softened up a bit. Thanks so much for sharing.

Jasmine Ellemo

What an interesting way to connect the breath to the neck to the belly and the vagus nerve. I am learning so much from reading these blogs and will be trying your techniques to see how they feel. Your client must be so happy that you have given him simple tools that will help him relax and calm down.