Yoga exercises offer many healing properties including improved circulation of lymphatic channels. The lymphatic system is a network of channels that transport clear fluid called lymph and is highly linked to the circulatory system.
The lymphatic system includes all the structures and mechanisms responsible for the circulation and production of lymphocytes. This immune system network includes various organs like the thymus, spleen, bone marrow and the lymphoid tissue associated with the digestive system.
The lymphatic system has multiple functions:
*removal of interstitial fluid from tissues
*absorbs and transports fatty acids and fats to the circulatory system
*elimination of infections through the transport of antigen presenting cells (ie dendritic cells) to lymph nodes where an immune response is triggered
The lymphatic system follows the path of the circulatory system and consists of a similar structure including lymph capillaries and vessels. These vessels receive fluid and components from the blood vessels. Therefore, nutrients and components of blood do not directly pass into cell tissues, but first cross the lymphatic tissue. The lymphatic vessels also act as a drainage conduit for the blood vessels, transporting diffused fluids and blood components to the lymph nodes and back into the heart for circulation.
How Does the Lymphatic System Benefit From Yoga Exercises?
Lymph fluid is not pumped through the body like blood, but is moved through the channels mostly by the contraction and massage of skeletal muscles. Yoga exercises that involve muscular contraction of the legs and arms are particularly effective in aiding the transport of lymph fluid.
Also beneficial to the lymphatic system are yoga postures that invert the legs and allow gravity to act on the lymphatic channels. From gentle leg inversions like Viparita Karani (legs up the wall) to more advanced inversions like Salamba Sarvangasana (supported shoulder stand), these inverted yoga poses use gravity to their advantage by stimulating the passive flow of lymph fluid and increasing the rate of drainage.
Performing full or partial inverted yoga poses can be particularly beneficial to those who have occupations that involve prolonged sitting or standing. These work positions increase the occurrence of fluid buildup in the blood vessels and lymphatic channels of the legs. With light yoga inversions, swelling, discomfort and other chronic conditions can be alleviated. Please note that if you have high blood pressure, history of circulatory problems, eye or inner ear conditions, you should consult a health professional before performing yoga inversions.
Since lymphoid tissue works primarily in defending the body against the infections and the spread of tumors, improvement in circulation of lymph through yoga exercises presents great healing benefits and strengthening of the immune system. Regardless of experience level, anyone can engage some form of yoga exercise to nourish the lymphatic channels and stimulate lymph flow.