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Welcome to

Tuning Into Your Nervous System and Trusting Its Goodness!

Below you'll find all the materials you need to get started this week.


Inside the program I’ll show you how to trust signals that are coming from inside, from your own nervous system

It’s transformational to step back and gain new insight into your own system and needs so you can build a stronger foundation in supporting yourself and others.

Remember, I created this course for anyone that is dedicated to personal self exploration through building their inner strengths of self-awareness, self-acceptance and kindness. And it’s also for professionals that integrate Mindfulness into their work with others.

You'll also have an opportunity to book a 1:1 chat with me to make sure we've covered everything.

How This Program Works

I designed this program with you in mind. I meet with you live to make sure you get all your questions answered, and to help you get as much support as you need.

While the core curriculum is the same in each program, our time together, is unique to you, and your community of peers for this round.

Okay. Let's get into it. Here's how the program works:

How to Contact Me

Reach out anytime if you have a question. The best way to contact me is by e-mail. You'll generally get a reply within 24 hours.

My email address is:

The Schedule

Here are the dates for our course, Tuning Into Your Nervous System and Trusting Its Goodness. Be sure to add them to your calendar.

Live Course Sessions via Zoom: Mondays, 12:30 - 2:30 pm (plus 15-minutes at end for any questions) EXCEPT for Sessions 5 & 6.

  • January 22 - Introduction
  • January 29 - Session One ** 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
  • February 5 - Session Two ** 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
  • February 12 - Session Three ** 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
  • February 19 - Integration Week: We won't meet on February 19.
  • February 26 - Session Four ** 12:30 pm - 2:30 pm
  • March 5 - Session Five: Live Interview ** 1:00 - 2:30 pm
  • March 12 - Session Six ** 1:00 - 2:30 pm

Please note there is a 15 minute buffer for all course calls. That means we have 15 minutes of time after our course call time to wrap up.

I also like to be available in case a question comes up. Drop by, check in, say hello! These are simply office hours where I answer any questions you have.

Live Office Hours via Zoom: Thursdays, 3:30 - 4:30 pm

  • January 25 - Charlotte's Office Hour
  • February 1 - Charlotte's Office Hour
  • February 8 - Charlotte's Office Hour
  • February 15 - Charlotte's Office Hour
  • February 22 - Integration Week: No office hour on February 22
  • March 1 - Charlotte's Office Hour
  • March 8 - No office hour on March 8
  • March 15 - Charlotte's Office Hour

Our One on One Call Time

Near the end of the course you'll get a link to schedule your one-on-one session with me to continue your learning in daily life.

Prep Your Tech

(1.) Right now, download and login to Zoom. (It's free.)

(2). Use this quick guide to make sure you've got the right tech setup.

Don't ever hesitate to ask me a question or share your candid thoughts. Simply reply to this email, or any email I send during the program.

Where We'll Meet for The Live Program

We'll use Zoom to connect via live video. You'll be able to see me. I'll be able to see you. I'll be able to share my screen, and you'll be able to share yours. Keep in mind, the program also comes with a recording of everything we do. (Important Note: I recommend you use the video option, but you can also call into Zoom using any phone line. (That's one of the reasons I picked Zoom. It's been reliable for me, and I like to use tools my clients can easily use too!)

How To Connect For Our Live Calls

  1. Zoom Video. This is how you join all calls:
  2. (If you have issues with video, call in. +1-783-134-7398, PIN:7831347398#)

How To Prep For The Program

  1. Be sure to add our sessions to your calendar, including live office hours. 
  2. There is also a great recorded interview with Deb Dana. You can watch it here. You can find the transcript here.

Program Recordings

Inside the portal, I'll include a recording of the entire program (video, audio and transcription); any materials and resources we reviewed + any bonus materials - specific to this round.

An Overview of How We'll Move Through the Program

The Course Flow

You'll find a recorded interview with Deb Dana, LCSW, a guest expert, to help you gain clarity. She trains clinicians in how to regulate themselves. Deb co-authored a book with Stephen Porges, PhD., Clinical Applications of The Polyvagal Theory: The Emergence of Polyvagal-Informed Therapies (forthcoming from W.W. Norton).

Then, in each session there will be live integration experiences to bring the learning home. These may include tools of yoga such as breathing and meditation exercises; gentle movement; self-reflection; journaling and sharing.

Each week, you’ll have a recorded practice/s to explore.

Our first group meeting, Jan. 22nd, will be an orientation process. During the week of March 12th, we’ll meet 1:1, to support you in taking the next step.

In addition, we’ll meet together live for 6 sessions.

A quick overview on how each week works: We’ll meet for an orientation, then have the first 3 sessions, followed by a week “off” to implement. Then, we'll resume meeting for the remaining 3 session, then meet 1 to 1 during our last week.

The week off is important time. It allows time for learning to digest, to apply new understandings and to have some breathing time to come back refreshed.

I’ll have a regular office hour if you have a question or want to connect.

There will be also be a live Q&A with Deb Dana during the course.

Things To Consider When Building Your Personal Practice

Follow a practice that you enjoy about 4 times a week to let the experience land. This supports you in building a personal practice.

Think about when you'll want to do practices, 15 - 20 minutes or so. Is it easier to set aside time when you start the day or before a meal? Find a time to be consistent. It helps you follow through.

I'll give you practices inside the program to try, so you can see what works for you.

Live Session Best Practices

Set aside 30 minutes before our live sessions to get familiar with specific content for the session.

Journal to keep notes and record your insights and questions. Journaling helps the brain integrate what you're taking in. You'll use your journal in our live sessions too.

Hours You Should Reserve Each Week To Complete The Program

To make this investment meaningful, you’ll want to dedicate 2 to 3 hours per week. If you are unable to make this commitment then you’d be better served to participate another time.

How long does it take to see a difference? If you apply yourself to daily practice, meet with your Practice Partner weekly, and attend the live sessions, you should start to see a difference within a month or less.

Items You'll Receive in The Mail

If you don't already have a yoga block, you'll receive one in the mail.

You'll also receive:

  • a small gift that we'll use in the course, a wooden mannequin.
  • a journal you can use during the program.

Practice Partner

You'll connect with a practice partner each week for about an hour. You'll be assigned a practice partner at the Introduction. Figure out a time to connect with your partner, either live, by phone or Zoom. Really rich time to share. The Reflections are listed in the file, Preparation and Reflection, each week.

I will assign practice partners. Here's how to connect:

Rainy Olsen

Phone: 541-482-8155


Sue Bettinger

Phone: 541-708-0625


Jackie Rosen

Phone: 831-596-4500


Lauri Ann Galindez

Phone: 808-542-1926


Jan-Joy Sax

Phone: 808-371-2597


Karen Grove

Phone: 415-254-8360


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Download the Bonuses for Tuning In

Watch this intro video to get started.


Use each section below to download the bonus videos as you need to.

Each section is password protected. The password is: downloadbonuses


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Intro Week Recordings

Live Course Sessions via Zoom

Monday, Jan 22, 1 - 2:30pm:

Live Office Hours via Zoom

 Thursday Jan 25, 3:30 - 4:30 pm:

Audio Recording: click here for audio.   


Audio Recording: click here for audio.   

Interview With Guest Expert, Deb Dana, LCSW



Click here for the Transcript.

Below you'll find a table of contents arranged by content and time. 


What are the States of Our Autonomic Nervous System?

States of our Autonomic Nervous System 9:18

How each state has something to offer 8:04, 40:26

Autonomic Nervous System Hierarchy 8:04, 12:08, 19:52, 38:55

Dorsal Vagal System 8:28, 40:54

Sympathetic Nervous System 9:55

Ventral Vagal System 10:45

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS): Anatomical Perspective

ANS: Anatomical Perspective 20:32

Understanding new research re: PVT in light of previous understanding 24:44

Social Engagement System

Basics of Social Engagement System 26:58

Tone of Voice 1:00:30, Chanting Om 1:19:15, Music and States/Shifts 1:20:15

Neutral Face 1:01:00

Social Engagement as doorway to Ventral Vagal 1:15:02

Touch 1:35:30

Neuroception and Becoming More Self-Aware

What is neuroception? 30:22

Why do we need to bring awareness to neuroception? 33:04, 50:02

What are the messages we’re getting? 34:11

Top down 35:30

Bi-directional 35:56

Ancient Ways of Knowing 55:25

Common experiences of dys-regulation 1:00:50

ANS State comes first; then Story  17:12, 18:33, 33:42, 35:38, 39:18, 1:12:39


What is regulation?  1:22:33



Sensations of co-regulation; beliefs about being independent 28:00 

How our system was shaped 43:06, 59:54, 1:01:42

What our society values 1:04:15

Understanding co-regulation and self-regulation 1:04:15

Each of us has different needs for co-regulation 1:05:00, 1:10:00

Beyond right and wrong 1:25:15

Other ways to co-regulate 1:26:00

Rupture and Repair 1:24:15

In Death and Dying 1:33:10


How to Re-pattern NS  37:25

Context: Shifts in ANS - up and down the ANS hierarchy 13:22

Notice and Name  16:23

Self-awareness: What does my system need right now 1:10:00, 1:12:52

Rewiring with Remembered/Imagined Reciprocity 1:13:24

Be with Difficulties while Safely Regulated 50:33

Moving through States with Social Engagement System 1:16:15

Repairs Create Resilience 1:24:40

Deb’s mannequin exercises 1:30:45

Self-care: each of us will respond differently 1:38:40

Deb’s Guided Meditation, Feeling Face Heart Connection 1:41:47

Into our Day  1:28:00

How We Shift States in our Nervous System

Vagal brake 46:45

Toning/exercising the vagal brake 1:21:04

Shifts toward Ventral Vagal work while in other States 39:28, 40:30, 48:56

As we relate to and are impacted by our culture 51:42

NS Flexibility and Reactivity 1:22:00

Reflection Questions

1. How do you experience a sense of grounding, of settling in?

  • Describe what you experience, what you notice in your body, in your breath, in your mind, in your emotions.
  • Journaling for a few minutes helps to track your experience. You’re free to include drawing, painting, color, words, images, memories, sound/songs, inspiration...

2. What are 2 - 3 favorite ways to ground and settle yourself? “On” or “off” your yoga mat or meditation cushion…..

Share about these with your practice partner.

Yoga Means To Join

Having easy, practical tools to stay connected with what’s happening inside, are gentle ways to care for ourselves. Understanding how to connect with our own needs with more and more kindness, opens the door to feeling more safely connected with others.

I’ve consulted a great deal with seniors and elders, and those on healing journeys.

One obstacle to caring for ourselves is that we’ve been taught that we are somehow separate from our body. We may think about our body unkindly, resenting its persistent need for care.  For all of us there are unconscious, habitual attitudes and beliefs that shape our choices and actions toward our bodies all day long.

A basic teaching of the yoga tradition is that we each have a capacity to join with something that’s favorable, but seems like it is separate from us in some way. Often when we begin a yoga practice tapping into our breath seems foreign or unfamiliar.

In yoga we emphasize learning through experience, becoming self-aware and grounded in practices to help us know ourselves. An aim is to alleviate unnecessary suffering for ourselves and live and contribute more fully.

Our breath is a true guide that leads us to experience our inner world. Our breath gives direct access to shifting our nervous system. It is a great tool to practice joining with our inner experience.

The breath reflects our physiological state - how our heart is beating, how our oxygen is circulating, whether there are difficulties in breathing relaxed and full. Breath mirrors our mental state - when we are worried or upset we breathe quite differently (and may not be aware of our breath) than times when we are relaxed or enjoying ourselves. When our physical body experiences pain our breath is very different from when we feel whole and hearty.

Our breath shows us where we can get stronger at directing our attention where we want it to go, instead of where it goes habitually. For example, when we sit for a short meditation practice and settle in, we can become aware of the countless ways our attention gets pulled this way and that. Thoughts arise like: the car needs snow tires; I wonder how my family is doing; or how will I manage my health care insurance in 2018?

No problem, this is everyone’s experience. It reminds us that we can continue to strengthen our mental muscles to be present.

Our breath is involved in anything we practice since it’s always present. Every experience we have is reflected in our breath. When we get interested in our breath we start to sense how changing our moment to moment experiences are.

There’s a subtle gift to this kind of awareness. Paying attention to our own nervous system is even subtler than tuning into our breath. This is partly because we don’t catch onto shifts in the nervous system in the present moment, instead we notice what’s happened after it’s shifted. Training in practices of tuning in - like breathing and other awareness exercises - help us cultivate a steadiness of mind that we need to attend to subtler levels of our nervous system.

We’ve generally been guided to think about our body as though it is separate from us.

Our body holds our story and it speaks our story through the nervous system. It’s really different to hold our experience from this inside out perspective.


@2018, Charlotte Nuessle

Basic Nuts and Bolts of Our Autonomic Nervous System

Let’s consider our Autonomic System briefly, as we focus on making an experiential relationship with polyvagal (many vagal) theory through our own system.

Quick Review of Autonomic Nervous System

Let’s start with a basic concept of how our nervous system evolved. This is simplified for our purposes.

Our autonomic nervous system evolved to fight/flee from danger (sympathetic nervous system); to immobilize if neither of those options were successful (dorsal vagal system in its protective mode); and to restore/rejuvenate and digest when we felt safely connected (ventral vagal - safe and connected mode).

Consider the flight response, how we quickly get away - for example, when we instantly take our hand off an unexpected very hot pot handle; or stand our ground - the fight response - when we defend our point of view in a discussion. How we become invisible - the dorsal branch of the parasympathetic system - when we don’t get a response any other way; and how we soften and take in comfort - the ventral vagal branch - when we reach out to those we feel safe with.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)

Our autonomic nervous system has to do with our body functions that are primarily automatic. Imagine if you had to be conscious of your breathing at 2:00 am! That’s not gonna happen. Our autonomic nervous system is designed to keep us functioning for survival: breathing, digesting and eliminating, our heart beat and circulation. And sexual arousal since our ancestors had to pass on their genes in order for our species to continue.

Two parts of ANS: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic

Our autonomic nervous system has two parts, sympathetic and parasympathetic.

Sympathetic has one branch

The sympathetic branch of our nervous system comes off the spinal column between the upper and low back, T-1 to L-3. It’s spinal.

The sympathetic branch is related to our fight and flight responses. It automatically prepares to keep us safe when we’re facing danger or what seems like danger. Pupils dilate; circulation increases to big muscles that we need to run fast; our heart rate increases; our bronchial passages widen to help us breathe more deeply.

Our body releases the hormones of adrenaline and cortisol to help us respond to danger or when we imagine we’re in danger.

Parasympathetic has two branches: Ventral and Dorsal Vagus.

The vagus nerve originates in the lower half of the brainstem. Our brainstem is located in the area of the little indent at the base of the skull, where the spinal column holds the head. Place a  kind touch there.

The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve, originating in the cranium, the area of the skull that holds the brain. The vagus is the 10th cranial nerve. Instead of a solo nerve, it is a bundle of fibers that wander along a more or less vertical course in the body.  You might appreciate this illustration that shows its pathway and widespread influence.

You’ll see that it also runs deep internally, deep at the level of our skeleton and inner organs. When you click here, you'll get a bit more background on Vagus Nerve Anatomy. Also scroll down the page to see the images, or click on the text towards the bottom of the page, that says 'Media Gallery' if you want to see all the pictures at once.

One branch: Ventral Vagus

Ventral vagal relates to our need to feel safely connected. The ventral vagal part of the vagus nerve is associated with the quality of voice, our sense of sound, eye contact, caring touch, breath and turning the head. The way that caregivers gently coo at their baby, for example, comforts the baby. If comfort was lacking or missing in some way from our caregivers, which likely was true for most of us at some time, our nervous systems registered that.

This is a helpful image that I found online, from Netter. This is the ventral vagal branch. If it interests you, explore the drawing to find the vagus nerve and its various branches - to the ear, to sucking, to voice, swallowing, to our heart and lungs and diaphragm.

When mammals appeared we evolved to take in signs of safety and feeling safely connected to others. One attribute that distinguishes mammals from lizards, for example, is that our offspring need to be protected and nurtured - they are unable to defend or find food by themselves for several years after birth. Human young have this need the longest of any mammals.

How our Nervous System Developed in Relationship

Our nervous systems developed according to how our caregivers related to us. If the caregiver that served in the role of mother, whoever is the main caregiver when we are tiny babies, was attentive and responsive, our nervous systems developed with confidence in reaching out, because we experienced safety. When we reached out with crying, our needs were met. We were met. We felt met.

On the other hand, we might have reached out needing some soothing and our needs weren’t met. Instead of a soft voice there was a harsh voice, for example, instead of feeling met we felt that we couldn’t trust that this other was really safe. We became unsure, our nervous system registered that too.

We see those patterns continue in us in how we experience our world. We can change them when we become aware, conscious of our patterns, accept and re-pattern them through kindness.

The super good news is that we can shape our systems through our whole lives. We can give ourselves what might have been missing at an earlier time. We can rewrite our story.

Second branch: Dorsal Vagus

The vagus nerve continues from below the diaphragm to the gut. This is the dorsal vagal system. This lower part of the vagus nerve correlates with aiding digestion and other necessary functions of this region, when in its restorative state.

When we have digestive issues, the dorsal vagus is involved.

When we are not successful in using our sympathetic means of fight or flight to stay safe, it is our dorsal vagal system that immobilizes us, a shutting down as a protective mechanism.

@2018, Charlotte Nuessle

About How to Practice

The most important thing

“If you’re forcing, you’re not listening.” ~ Tom Myers

Practice tuning in and listening. It’s super helpful to notice when you’re forcing and not listening. Let go of any judgment. Just come back and give yourself a chance to begin again.

About becoming more embodied, not a “right” way

Our human experience is informed by our nervous system, by a journey of evolution that is writ large inside us and communicates extensively through the body’s signals, not only the thinking mind.

Staying open to these signals as much as possible, allows us to more fully accept and embody our experience. This helps us experience the shifts that are going on in our nervous system, all the time.

We can aim toward becoming more fluid, more spacious. We can become more and more aware and gradually accept the shifts that go on all day long in our nervous system, and point ourselves back toward safety and connection when we notice we’ve shifted away.

Why We Practice

There are different reasons why we practice. What we practice in our 20s will be different than how we practice in our 60s. Our practices need to evolve as we do.

It is helpful to reflect on why we practice now.

Here are some examples of why we might practice:

  • Some area is experiencing pain, discomfort

Ex: low back pain, neck and shoulder tightness

  • Feel more confident - develop strength, balance

  • Move to repattern injury, inherited predispositions, or to address repetitive movements

  • Engage consciously with our breath

  • Honor emotional needs like depression or anxiety and make shifts to feeling grounded

  • Steady the mind

  • Self-care

  • Develop kindness to ourselves; practice kindness

We first aim to do no harm to our own body or to anyone else.

How to Know if This Practice is a Good Fit?

This is how we can start to determine whether a practice is serving us:

  • Whether we feel lighter after doing the practice.

  • Whether our body feels more resilient, more able to come back after a challenging situation. How our energy responds, if we feel more balance inside.

  • Whether we feel more kindness toward ourselves, toward our circumstances.

  • Whether areas of distress aren’t aggravated by the practice. We may not be able to make measurable gains in the short run but we want to avoid doing any harm.

A good fit for you

Each of our bodies is unique and what’s right for me may not be right for you. What’s right for you today may not be right tomorrow. And what’s right tomorrow might surprise you! Your body might be happy in a movement that used to feel uncomfortable.

There is no right way, there’s just finding your unique way. Learn as you go.

Instead of trying hard if a certain movement or practice is uncomfortable:

  • Let go of that movement

  • Practice what does feel good

  • Do less

  • Do something else that you enjoy

  • Be kind to yourself and notice how you respond to your own kindness

  • Notice how it feels to listen to your body’s messages

Please reach out if you have any questions about any of the practices, live or recorded. I’d like to hear if something is difficult and help you find a practice that’s a good fit.

@2018, Charlotte Nuessle

Additional Resources

References and inspiration for my work has been informed by these and many others! Forgive omissions, errors.


Doug Keller,

Leslie Kaminoff,

Gary Kraftsow,

Robin Rothenberg,


Mary Gorman, 

Tom Myers,

Positive Neuroplasticity:

Rick Hanson,

Linda Graham,

Polyvagal System:

Deb Dana, 

Trauma Sensitive Yoga:

David Emerson,

Bessel van der Kolk,

Intro Bonuses


Most weeks I'll share bonuses because we all need a little support. These Intro Bonuses are all about setting the tone for your health and wellness practice. Below are a few I think you'll find useful this week. Enjoy!

Support for the Core


Integrate Exhale with Movement and Counting


Opening the Front


Warm Welcome - Open Vowel Toning