We don’t hear too much about the Lymphatic System and yet it is one of the most crucial and important systems in our body.
We know our body is about 70-75% water, 20% of which is comprised of blood. What is less commonly known is that the Lymphatic System holds at least twice as much water as the bloodstream. In fact, the Lymphatic System is the body’s fundamental water reservoir. The Lymphatic System extends throughout our entire body from head to fingers to toes. All the body’s cells, tissues, and organs are bathed and nourished by lymph fluid which also functions to transport and drain debris and toxins to be filtered through lymph nodes. The Lymphatic System is vital to cell renewal, tissue repair, and cell nutrition and, when not functioning properly, can lead to a compromised immune system and debilitating health issues including Lymphedema. This is especially important for those who have experienced an injury or who have had axillary lymph nodes removed as part of a breast cancer diagnosis.
The Lymphatic System is a slow system that moves primarily by muscle movement and breathing. To activate lymph flow and prevent stagnation, it is essential that physical exercise and proper breathing are practiced regularly. A gentle Yoga practice is the ideal way to activate and renew lymph fluid.
Lymphedema Specialist, Joachim Zuther writes, “In addition to increasing flexibility, muscle strength and range of motion, Yoga beneficially impacts diaphragmatic breathing and increases venous and lymphatic circulation, both important aspects in the management of lymphedema. The downward and upward movement of the diaphragm in deep abdominal breathing is an essential component for the sufficient return of lymphatic fluid back to the bloodstream; movement of the diaphragm, combined with the outward and inward movements of the abdomen, rib cage, and lower back, also promotes general well-being, relaxation, peristalsis and return of venous blood back to the heart. The controlled yoga breathing exercises promote lymph flow by strengthening the diaphragm and its movement.”
A combination of Yogic breathing techniques and specific Yoga postures focused on the anatomy of the Lymphatic System, can help enhance proper oxygenation of the blood, drainage of accumulated toxins in lymph fluid, enhanced health of tissues and organs and strengthened immune system support. The Lymphatic System is directly related to the parasympathetic nervous system and is, therefore, impacted by stress. Yogic breathing techniques provide additional benefit by calming the nervous system and reducing the body’s stress response.
We all need a healthy Lymphatic System. This is especially important to those who have had lymph nodes removed as part of a cancer diagnosis and would like to begin a practice focused on lymphedema prevention. Always consult first with your physician or physical therapist before beginning or returning to a Yoga practice.
Contact me if you are interested in scheduling a session on Yoga for Lymphatic Health and Lymphedema prevention.
More information about Yoga and Lymphatic health can be found by following these links.