The lymphatic system is crucial to our health; its a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body.
Made up of proteins, water, glucose, electrolytes, enzymes, and hormones, lymph fluid travels through the lymphatic vessels to various parts of the body to pick up bacteria.
Lymph fluid carries bacteria to the nearest lymph nodes where white blood cells, called lymphocytes eliminate them. The increase of white blood cells causes the lymph node to enlarge.
Swollen lymph nodes are usually an indication of the white blood cells’ ongoing battle with bacteria.
The lymphatic fluid contains message sending chemical and hormones from various lymph glands throughout your body, via the circulatory system.
Interestingly, the lymphatic system has no pump (like a heart) or peristalsis (like the muscles in our digestive tract). The only way lymphatic fluid is moved is with the contraction and stretching of skeletal muscles it relies on us to pump it by our movement & our breathing.
Yoga provides unique muscle movements that move the lymph fluid throughout the body. Our deep breathing activates a lymph node deep in the thoracic cavity – and only full breathing can reach it.
Inversions (like Downward Dog, forward bends, and bridge) shift the fluids while twists essentially wring out toxins from the spine and force the lymph fluids to the upper and lower quadrants of the body.
Symptoms of congestion in your lymphatic system
- Soreness and/or stiffness in the morning
- Feeling tired
- Bloating / Holding on to water
- Itchy skin
- Weight gain and extra belly fat
- Swollen glands
- Low immunity
- Brain fog
- Breast swelling or soreness with each cycle
- Dry skin
- Mild rash or acne
- Cold hands/feet/poor circulation
Self Drainage Massage
By manually stimulating the lymphatic system, you:
- Increase the carrying capacity of the lymph system, allowing it to process up to 10 times more fluid than normal.
- Increase the flow through the lymph nodes, filtering out waste products, dead cells, excess proteins and toxins from the tissues.
- Increase the production of lymphocytes, thereby increasing the body’s ability to fight infections.
- Activate the parasympathetic response, producing a body-wide relaxation effect.
A slow lymph system is often associated with various ailments like poor circulation, allergies, cellulite, fluid retention, puffy eyes, and weight gain. Certain essential oils can aid blood flow and reduce swelling of the lymph nodes.
These essential oils include lemon, myrrh, oregano, cypress, orange, grapefruit, frankincense oils, peppermint, ginger, and rosemary and they can be rubbed on lymph nodes under the neck and arms or combined with lymphatic massage therapies.
Steam rooms provide a moist heat, pumping warm steam into an enclosed room. Cultures from around the world, from Native American sweat lodges to Finnish steam baths, have been practicing this healing therapy for centuries.
The heat in a steam room stimulates the immune system and increases blood circulation at the surface of the skin, which can help the body release toxins stored in the skin and muscle tissue. The heat stimulates the body to sweat, which releases these toxins out of the body. As you sweat, you lessen the burden of your lymphatic system to rid itself of toxic waste, allowing it to work more efficiently. The wet steam also helps stimulate respiratory detoxification as well.