Movement is organic to our nature. The body is wise, and the practice of yoga can help us get back in touch with our unique and innate intuition. Establishing this connection is a powerful step towards finding our optimal path and choosing what will serve us most.
Ayurveda reminds us that we are all unique. Everyone has a personal constitution that will determine to what extent they are naturally motivated towards activity. Learning about ourselves without placing judgment, and having the willingness to embrace balance can be huge assets in our personal growth. For some of us, movement comes easily, while for others, it takes a little more effort to get the engine started. This can also depend on what we are currently going through, our age, environment, and so many other factors. The key is in applying what is needed and refining as we go.
The lymphatic system has two very important functions: Protect and Move. Yoga supports the system in its main function of moving lymph—which is a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells—throughout the body. The lymphatic system affects our ability to cleanse and detoxify, starting with the collection of ama, or waste material, that needs to be moved through the body and eliminated. When the lymph is functioning properly, natural toxins are easily flushed, and you are left feeling vibrant and eager to live fully.
The lymphatic system is essential to our health and crucial to our immunity and the detoxification processes of the body. This system needs support when it comes to getting the job done because it doesn’t have a pump like the heart. It requires a little extra stimulation, which can be brought about through certain movements, repetitive practices, and specific placements of pressure and stress on the body. Breaking a sweat, walking, jogging, and jumping are incredibly effective practices for the lymphatic system. Raising the arms above the level of the heart also helps tone the system and drains lymph from the upper body.
Yoga supports our lymphatic system by awakening natural movements and placing the body in poses that directly stimulate and energize the healthy movement of lymph. And we find an even deeper beauty in the practice because, beyond just the action itself, yoga leaves us with the inspiration to continue our forward momentum and do it again.
Here are some examples of yoga postures that are beneficial to the lymphatic system.
Revolved Chair (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
Leg & Arm Lifts
Half Shoulder Stand (Ardha Sarvangasana)
Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
Any kind of repetitive movement stimulates the fluids and energy flow in the body. These movements—done again and again—have the power and ability to gather and release any stagnant fluid or energy.
The practice of yoga awakens our body’s intelligence and makes our movement become second nature. Yoga also provides benefits through its more receptive and restorative styles, supporting the lymphatic system in a myriad of ways. These styles include Yin and Restorative yoga, or even adding prop-support to postures like the ones mentioned above.
Several yoga poses can be practiced together to create a routine that specifically targets the lymphatic system. For example, Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) with Leg Lifts and Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani) is a favorite combination. Lifting one leg at a time in Downward-Facing Dog is a vigorous exercise that helps stretch open the side body, moving lymph in this area while simultaneously creating an overall inversion effect in the upper body (and the lifted leg). This balances nicely with Legs Up the Wall, which moves lymph in the lower body and has the added effect of being a calming restorative posture (aaaaaahhhh).
Because yoga brings more awareness to our experience both on and off the mat, it’s a great idea to complement your daily practice with Ayurvedic personal care practices such as self-massage. This practice helps balance the lymphatic system by supporting the body in releasing tension, moving toxins, and improving the circulation of fluids—all of which are essential to a thriving immune system. You can even add aromatherapy to your experience by adding a few drops of essential oils into your massage oil. I use Coconut or Daily Massage Oil, and I add a few drops of cypress, cinnamon, or clove essential oil, depending on the day. Always be sure to select therapeutic-grade essential oils, because trust me, you'll notice the difference (supermarket oils just won’t cut it)! Daily practices like these support our physical resilience, with the added benefit of preventing future imbalances.
By implementing daily stretches, brisk walks or runs, tapping (EFT or Energy Medicine Yoga), and following the general rule of thumb of consistency, you'll be doing your daily duty to prevent imbalance, which is what Ayurveda and Holistic Medicines are all about.