Yoga Exercises for Lymph Congestion
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The lymphatic system works with the circulatory system, carrying proteins and lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) to the tissues. Its main method of transport is fluid, much like the circulatory system. But, unlike the circulation of blood, lymphatic fluid does not have a separate organ to pump the fluid, but relies on movement of the body. Certain yoga exercises may help move lymph and cleanse the body.
Inverting the body helps to reverse the effects of gravity. The most common inversion poses are Halasana, or plow pose, Sarvangasana, or shoulder stand, and Sirsasana, or headstand. According to the "Yoga Journal," these postures can help stimulate lymphatic glands such as the thyroid, as well as relieve stress and reduce fatigue. The headstand is especially beneficial for the pituitary and pineal glands. The shoulder stand is considered beneficial for the prostate and reproductive organs. It is best to practice these poses with the support of a folded blanket, and follow step-by-step guidelines to avoid injury.
Twists can be performed while seated on the floor or in a chair. They can be simple seated twists such as Bharadvajasana or Ardha Matsyendrasana, the half Lord of the Fishes Pose, or more advanced twists such as Marichyasana, also known as the sage pose. The "Yoga Journal" explains that twists help to stimulate energy in the body and spine and massage the internal organs. They help stretch the back, hips and shoulders, and are used therapeutically to relieve stress.
Backbends, like inversions, help reverse the effects of gravity on the body. They have many of the same benefits as inversion postures. In addition, they stretch the entire spine and help to open the front of the body. Some beginners backbends include: Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose, Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or Bridge Pose, and Salambhasana, or Locust Pose. Aside from improving flexibility of the spine, the postures may help stimulate the abdominal organs, open the heart and lungs and, more importantly, relieve stress and fatigue, a major factor in lymphatic congestion.
Dynamic yoga series, such as the Suryanamaskar, or "Sun Salutation," keep the body moving. This is important to move the lymphatic fluid throughout the body. The sun salutation is actually a series of 12 postures, one flowing into the next, while moving with the breath. It begins with mountain pose and prayer position, then inhaling and reaching up overhead with the palms together, and exhaling into a standing forward bend. This is followed by two deep lunges, stepping back into plank position, then lowering slowly while exhaling and inhaling up into cobra pose. On the next exhalation, the body moves into downward-facing dog pose, inhaling into another set of deep lunges, then stepping up into a standing forward bend once more. This is followed by one final inhalation while reaching up, and exhaling back into mountain pose.
Martin Booe is a health, fitness and wellness writer who lives in Los Angeles. He is currently collaborating on a book about digital addiction to be published in the UK this December.