You’re wondering: how does Yoga impact the lymphatic system?! But first… let’s ask: what even is the lymphatic system?!
The lymphatic system is a network in your body created from tissues and organs that help the body eliminate toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. Many people are more than familiar with the lymph nodes in the lymphatic system, but they are not familiar with the fact that your lymphatic system travels through your body from your adenoids and tonsils all the way to your spleen.
Unlike your blood circulatory system which has a big heart to pump and circulate the blood around the body, the lymphatic system relies on manual movement to move (are you already starting to understand the link with Yoga?!).
Why Is the Lymphatic System So Important?
The lymphatic system is a vital component of our immune system because it helps eliminate waste and toxins from the body. Your lymphatic system is like your clean-up crew, it regulates the immune response and helps to remove toxins from the body, such as carbon dioxide and sodium. The system removes these toxins and rids them via perspiration, bowel movements, urine and your breath.
The lymphatic system in your body creates a link that allows the immune cells to monitor and respond to signals in order to increase or decrease immune and inflammatory responses. This approach balances the fluid levels, but it also helps protect the body from threats like bacteria and infections.
How Yoga Affects Lymphatic Circulation
You may be familiar with the fact that Yoga is one of the best practices for reducing stress and physically strengthening the body. That is not, by any means, everything that Yoga has to offer; Yoga plays a vital role in increasing circulation throughout the body. Improved and increased circulation will help allow the lymphatic system to filter out the bad stuff and transport the good. This means that any type and amount of Yoga (and exercise for that matter) is going to improve your lymphatic system and circulation.
As mentioned above regarding the circulatory systems, the lymphatic system requires the body to help push the lymph along on its journey. This means compressing, stretching, reaching and jumping can all help move lymph around the body.
Learning this and more about the benefits of Yoga really creates motivation to get on your mat, perhaps for you, it’s creating motivation to learn MORE about teaching Yoga, if that’s the case, check our our upcoming 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training.
The Best Yoga Poses for the Lymphatic System
There are certain poses that are going to help detoxify and stimulate your lymphatic system, due to the way these certain poses compress and stretch areas of the body where lymph nodes are present.
Balasana (Childs Pose)
Begin kneeling, sitting on your feet, with your big toes touching while your knees are separated or together. Fold your torso forward, let your forehead rest on the Earth, or, on a support like a folded blanket, a bolster, or a block so your head and neck can rest more comfortably, and keep your eyes closed the whole time. Place your arms out long in front of you on the floor, palms facing down.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
From the previous pose, tuck your toes under, press your hands into the floor, and lift your hips up, lengthening the legs until you are in the pose Down Dog. You’re making an upside-down V shape with the body. Your hands are shoulder width apart, your feet are hip-width with a micro bend in the knees. Press your hands into the Earth and allow your elbow creases to externally rotate. Gaze toward your feet.
Krounchasana (Heron Pose)
Sitting on your booty now. Bend your left knee so the left foot is outside of the left butt cheek. Bend your right knee so your right foot is flat on the floor. Inhale through the nose and as you exhale reach behind the right thigh and hug the thigh toward the chest. Hold here, or reach for your foot and start to extend the right leg long, and continue to crunch the right thigh toward the belly. Breathe deeply through the nose into the lower belly and relax your shoulders as you are holding the leg.
Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand)
This pose is perhaps one of the most amazing postures for your lymphatic system. Lie down and bend the knees with the soles of the feet flat. Press your feet into the Earth to lift your booty and slide a bolster or two firm cushions underneath your sacrum (the lowest part of the spine). Start by cuddling your knees into your chest then extend your legs high toward the sky, finding the place where they just seem to float. For added lymph action, start to circle the ankles around and around while the feet are high in the sky.
Remember, all exercise will in fact help your lymphatic system, this is one of the reasons daily exercise and movement is SO important. It has nothing to do with what you look like and all to do with how it can make you feel, and how it can help the body function!
There are two things that we think are important when it comes to movement. 1: you need to enjoy the way you’re moving (if you don’t like running, don’t run… if you DO like dancing, dance!). And 2: it needs to be doable and easy to access with no, or limited friction (we mean, travelling an hour, finding a park, needing to fit with someone else’s schedule, all of these things will make it harder to be consistent!).
This is why we LOVE at-home workouts and we love sharing online classes inside the MerryBody App. The way we do fitness inside MerryBody is different. We don’t do before and afters, we don’t count calories, we don’t do measurements, and we don’t do weigh ins. We DO focus on joyful movement. And we DO teach you how to exercise with an intention of self-acceptance and self-confidence.
If this sounds like something you’d like to try, then sign up for this FREE yoga class, that way you can start to feel the benefits of this amazing practice. From there, we will send you a great offer on how to make MerryBody part of your life.
Emma + Carla