If your body has become “stale” from winter, and your back is sore from huddling to stay warm, then it is time to open up and twist it out for spring!
Studies are beginning to show that pranayama and yoga asanas can help stimulate lymphatic flow (Aggithaya et al., 2015; Narahari et al., 2013). One function of the lymphatic system is to transport white blood cells, which helps rid our bodies of bacteria and viruses.
Yin yoga philosophy stems from the Taoist perspective. A common idea in Taoism is that the body is composed of meridians (channels) through which Qi flows. From a Taoist perspective, the lymphatic system is energetically connected to the Spleen meridian. The Spleen meridian starts at the inner big toe, travels up the inner leg, circles around the external genitalia, and moves into the armpit.
Below is a 60-minute yin sequence you can practice to get the juices flowing. Feel free to increase/decrease time spent in poses, and add counter-movements after each pose.
1. Ujjayi pranayama (five minutes): Lie in corpse pose
2. Bananasana (five minutes each side; total 10 minutes):
a. Cross the outer ankle to deep the stretch in the IT band
b. If arms tingle, draw them to hips
3. Happy baby (briefly)—rock up to sitting
4. Butterfly pose (four to five minutes)
5. Deer pose (four minutes each side; total 8 minutes)
a. Wind-shield wiper your legs
6. Heart melting pose (five minutes)
a. If you have shoulder issues, rest in child’s pose
7. Child’s pose (five minutes)
a. Here’s the breakdown:
Walk hands to right (two minutes)
Walk hands to left (two minutes)
Rest in center (one minute)
8. Supported fish pose with blocks (see photo; seven minutes)
9. Reclining twist (four minutes each side; eight minutes)
Shavasana (seven minutes)
Please note: Always watch out for tingling or numbness in the body. If it occurs, come out of the pose. If you have questions about poses, yinyoga.com and click on “asanas.”
Aggithaya, M. G., Narahari, S. R., & Ryan, T. J. (2015). Yoga for correction of
lymphedema’s impairment of gait as an adjunct to lymphatic drainage: A pilot observational study. International journal of yoga, 8(1), 54.
Narahari, S. R., Ryan, T. J., & Aggithaya, M. G. (2013). How Does Yoga Work in
Lymphedema. J Yoga Phys Ther, 3(135), 2.
Author: Caity Placek
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Josh Tremper/Flickr, Poses courtesy of author.
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