The Science and Practice of Polyvagal Theory and Somatic Literacy for Healing and Growth

Polyvagal theory and somatic literacy are two frameworks that can help you understand and regulate your nervous system responses to trauma and dysfunction. Polyvagal theory explains how your nervous system switches between three modes: ventral vagal (social engagement and safety), sympathetic (fight or flight and stress), and dorsal vagal (freeze or collapse and numbness). Somatic literacy is the ability to access and make meaning from the knowledge encoded in your body, such as emotions, sensations, impulses, and needs. By using polyvagal theory and somatic literacy, you can learn to notice and regulate your nervous system responses, and use somatic practices such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or dance to heal yourself. You can also seek professional guidance from somatic therapists, counselors, coaches, or educators who can help you explore your body’s wisdom and healing potential. Polyvagal theory and somatic literacy are not for everyone, but they may offer a unique opportunity to heal from trauma and dysfunction by enhancing your body’s ability to change and learn.