Posted on Feb 12, 2021 #fitness
The immune system is a pretty cool thing. Until it isn’t.
Your immune system can start to act up just like a toddler in a candy shop. When it does, you’re left with symptoms like joint inflammation, allergies, cold hands and feet, depression, bloating, brain fog, and chronic fatigue.
As if that’s not enough, a clogged immune system also presents as weight gain.
And, in case you didn’t know, your lymphatic system and immune system are best friends. So when one isn’t acting right, the other probably isn’t either.
Your lymphatic system is responsible for circulating lymph – aka the leftover fluids from nutrient delivery – back into the body. It maintains the fluid level in your body, absorbs fat from the digestive tract, removes germs and bacteria, and protects your body from foreign invaders.
Unlike blood, which circulates by your heart pumping, lymph circulates by muscular contraction.
It’s vital that your lymph nodes (which filter the excess fluid) drain and circulate properly. Blocked lymph nodes contribute to immune system issues and vice versa.
Yin yoga is perfect for restoring balance to your immune system and assists with lymphatic drainage.
Let’s look at 10 yin yoga poses you can use to restore lymph node health!
If you’re already familiar with yin yoga and how it helps with immunity and lymphatic drainage, check out my Yin Yoga class on myYogaTeacher for a well balanced class that ends with a Nidra meditation!
Any time your head is below your heart, lymph flows from the highest point in your body to the lowest due to gravity. When you come upright again, lymph passes through the lymph nodes and is cleansed.
Downward facing dog allows this process to happen naturally. Resting your forehead on a block and relaxing your jaw, tongue and mouth, also allows the lymph to flow freely in your nose and throat area.
Hang out in this pose for 1-3 minutes and be sure to breathe deeply and evenly!
Seems simple enough, right?
Place a rolled up blanket or towel underneath your hips and rest your legs a comfortable distance up against a wall. Be sure to keep your head and neck in a neutral position. If you can fit a small orange between your chin and neck, then you’re doing it right!
You’ll want to stay in this position for 3-5 minutes (or longer if you’re loving it) and take deep belly breaths.
Relax and know that this pose is draining the lymph from your legs and feet and into your lymph nodes for cleansing!
We’ve talked before about how twisting poses alleviate back and hip pain in previous posts. This pose is done slightly differently than static reclined twists. We’ve included it with yin yoga because it’s still important to perform this pose for 2-3 minutes.
Lying on your back, place your feet a little more than hip’s width apart. Knees facing the ceiling and feet flat on the floor.
Inhale, and as you exhale let your knees sway to the left or right like a windshield wiper. Inhale as your knees come up and exhale as you effortlessly let them fall to the other side. Go back and forth like this for 2-3 minutes.
Feel free to gain some momentum with this pose as long as it is painless and remains effortless.
Twisting poses stimulate the lymphatic system with gentle compression and help the connective tissue release lymph.
Gotta love the cat and cow pose!
The gentle contraction of muscles in the abdomen and stretching of the hips and spine not only provides an amazing stretch for your back muscles, but helps release the lymph from those areas.
The gentle head movement also helps fluid release from your neck, upper chest, and armpit areas.
Perform cat and cow pose for 2-3 minutes.
Remember! For cat, you’re not necessarily arching your back. You’re releasing your hips upward. The arch in your back should be minimal, gentle, and should not hurt!
Neck stretches are perfect for clearing head congestion and allowing tight muscles to relax enough that they let go of the lymph so it can flow and be cleansed!
Sitting cross legged on a block or blanket, relax your shoulders down and gently tilt your ear towards your shoulder.
No need to strain here! Just let your head fall and keep your chin neutral, not lifted up or down. Hold each side for 30 seconds to a minute and repeat 3 times.
You can also do some gentle head rolls here.
Get a full spinal stretch with this pose, from your Achilles tendons all the way to your neck. Just as importantly, you’ll be allowing lymph to circulate throughout your upper body and be cleansed when you stand up.
Rest your head on one or two blocks to allow your jaw, neck, tongue and face to relax.
You’ll want to rest in this position for 2-3 minutes and roll up slowly and gently, inch by inch.
There’s nothing like the sweet release that happens in your quads and hips when you do low lunge properly. It’s ahhhhhmazing! Adding a gentle twist with it creates contraction in the abdomen.
Together, the muscle release and compression of abdominal muscles allows lymph to release from the muscles and be pumped towards the lymph nodes.
There are several modifications for this pose. We have shown you one that is perfect for all body types and all skill levels.
And definitely hold this pose on each side for 2-3 minutes. Feel free to put a blanket or pad under the knee area for more support!
This one is particularly helpful if you’re feeling under the weather!
Supported bridge pose opens up your chest for easier air movement, and using a block lengthwise under your torso allows you to relax and let gravity do all the work!
It also helps rejuvenate the parts of the lymphatic systems closest to your chest!
You’re welcome to do this pose, unsupported without the block. But either way you do it, hold this pose for 3-5 minutes for optimal effect!
Speaking of poses for chest and airway health, bow pose is perfect if you’re having sinus issues or post nasal drip. Traditionally performed as an ab strengthening pose, bow pose also happens to help drain and bring to life the parts of the lymphatic system close to your chest.
It also stimulates your thymus gland, a gland in between the lungs that creates white blood cells, which are a huge part of the immune system!
If you’re unable to do bow pose, a modified version would be to use a strap to help you grab your feet or ankles. You can also skip grabbing your feet or ankles all together and simply reach backwards as if you were going to, but not. And then just lift your thighs up off the ground or mat.
Hold post for 10 seconds and repeat for 1 minute.
Child’s pose is just the pose to round out any practice. That’s why we incorporate it into our myYogaTeacher classes and our blog posts!
This pose stretches all the right places, releases all the right places, and the compression of your stomach promotes lymphatic circulation.
Plus, it’s easy! No modifications needed, but if you want to rest a block under your forehead for comfort, you can!
There you go! Yin Yoga is particularly good for cold and flu season (or pandemics). If you’re needing more yin yoga to boost your immune system and get your lymphatic system in check, click this link to check out my Yin Yoga Class on myYogaTeacher!
Not a member? That’s ok. myYogaTeacher offers a two week free trial when you sign up!
In the meantime, drink plenty of water, get outside in nature, and when you’re ready, I’ll see you on the mat!
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