Your lymphatic system is like the clean-up crew of your body. It’s responsible for moving waste and toxins out of your tissues and back into your bloodstream. Helping your lymphatic fluid drain better will improve your overall health. Here are some yoga poses you can do to improve your lymph flow.
What are the functions of the lymphatic system?
Your lymphatic system has several important jobs.
- Transfers proteins and fats: Lymph fluids coming from your digestive system contain protein and fat. These get absorbed into the lymph flow and transported to your bloodstream for removal.
- Keeps up your fluid levels: Your lymphatic system collects fluids and pushes them back into your bloodstream, where it’s then circulated throughout your body.
- Protects your body: Your lymphatic system is part of your immune system. It creates lymphocytes or white blood cells to fight off bacteria, viruses, or any other dangerous antigens that might enter your body and make you sick.
- Removes waste products: Lymphatic fluid carries waste products and other abnormal cells into the bloodstream and out of your body.
- Prevents diseases: Growing evidence suggests that your lymphatic system contributes to preventing several diseases, such as cancer metastasis, inflammatory disorders, and lymphedema.
What conditions do you improve by stimulating lymphatic fluid drainage?
People who suffer from specific ailments benefit from lymph flow drainage. These conditions include
- Skin problems
- Sleep disorders
- Digestive issues
Eleven Stretches That Drain Your Lymphatic System and Improve Lymph Flow
Your heart pumps oxygenated blood around your body, but your lymphatic system relies on your muscle tissue to carry fluid to the lymph nodes in your body. That’s why stretches and yoga poses are critical for lymph flow because as your muscles flex, the lymph drains.
1 – Downward dog yoga stretch
This yoga pose allows the lymph flow to move through your lymph nodes and cleanses them. Here’s how to do the downward dog. Stand straight, then slowly bend down, reaching out with your hands and walking your hands out in front of you. You will feel the stretch in your legs, back, and arms. This pose gets the lymphatic fluids on the move down into your nose and throat area. Hold this yoga pose for one to three minutes, all the while breathing deeply. Slowly move back into a standing position. Repeat the pose five times.
2 – Cat and cow yoga pose
Get on your hands and knees. Gently contract the muscles in your stomach and arch your back upwards to stretch your hips and spine. This helps release lymph flow in those areas of your body. Move your head slowly down as you stretch. This will help release any build-up fluid in your neck, armpits, or your upper chest areas. Hold this pose for three minutes.
3 – Forward bend yoga pose
Standing straight, slowly bend down until your head is resting on your lower legs below your knees. This full spinal stretch allows the lymphatic fluid to circulate. Relax and hold this position for 3 minutes. Then slowly roll up inch by inch until you’re standing. Once you’re straight, your lymph flow gets a good cleanse when you’re standing straight again.
4 – Neck rotations
Sit crossed-legged on the floor. Take a deep breath and gently turn your head to the right. Hold this position, counting slowly to five. Exhale and bring your head back to the center. Repeat this neck stretch, turning your head to the left. Do this stretch four or five times on each side.
5 – Hip abduction stretch
Lay down on your back. Put your arms next to your body, and your legs should be straight in front of you. Slowly inhale and then slide your right leg along the floor and out to one side. Exhale and slide your leg back to where it was in front of you. Repeat this hip abduction stretch on the other leg. Do four repetitions on each side.
6 – Shoulder shrugs
Sit on the floor. Relax and inhale slowly as you pull up both of your shoulders towards your ears. Hold for one minute, then exhale as you slowly lower your shoulders back to their original position. Repeat this lymphatic drainage stretch at least ten times.
7 – Bent knees stretch
Lie on your back. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly bring your right knee to the side so that it falls to the side. Then slowly bring your leg back to the center. Repeat with your left leg. Do this stretch five times on each side. Be sure to relax and do this stretch slowly. This motion encourages the lower torso lymph flow to drain and circulate in your legs.
8 – Legs up on the wall stretch
Lay a rolled-up towel under your hips as you rest your legs up against the wall. Be sure you’re not too close to the wall, or you won’t be comfortable. Keep your head and neck in a restful position. You should be able to put a small orange under your chin if you’re doing it correctly. Stay in this position for five minutes or longer if you’re feeling comfortable. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. This pose drains the lymph flow from your legs and feet and cleanses your lymph nodes.
9 – Torso lift or bridge pose
Whatever you like to call this pose, it’s a great way to get your lymphatic system draining. It helps open up your lungs so you can breathe deeply. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent. Lift your torso off the floor and hold. Count to ten, then slowly place your torso back on the floor. Repeat this stretch five times. Be sure to do this slowly and to breathe deeply.
10 – Bow pose
The bow pose helps drain your lymph system close to your chest. Lie on your stomach. Slowly pull your arms behind you and clasp your hands together while you gently arch your back. Your legs should lift off the floor at the same time your arms do. The name of this pose is a bow because your body looks like a bow. This stretches your arms, your spine, and your neck. Hold to the count of ten, then slowly release your hands and relax with your arms out behind you on the floor. This pose stimulates your thymus gland, which is the gland between your lungs that produces white blood cells which battle infections and diseases in your body.
11 – Child’s pose
Use this pose as your last one to get that final stretch. This pose gives your entire body a good stretch and a feeling of relaxation. Bend down on your knees, resting back on your feet. Gently move your arms forward onto the floor in front of you, stretching ahead with your arms out in front of you. Relax and breathe slowly. Hold as you count to ten. Repeat this pose five times or more if you feel like it’s helping you relax. This pose compresses your stomach and enhances your lymphatic circulation. You can gently rock your forehead on the floor to help increase sinus drainage.
Other ways to encourage lymph flow
Besides stretches and yoga poses, you can do other things to promote lymph flow.
- Regular exercise: Exercise promotes good blood flow and breathing so that your lymph flow increases all over your body.
- Cold and hot showers: Taking a hot shower dilates your blood vessels while taking a cold shower constricts them. Alternating between a hot and cold shower is like a pump for your body to move the lymph through your lymphatic system.
- Dry brushing your skin: Dry brushing stimulates your body to sweat and releases harmful toxins. The brushing also opens up your pores. These things enhance your lymphatic system’s ability to cleanse.
- Drink water: When you drink water during the day, you will improve your lymph flow and reduce water retention in your body.
- Deep breathing: Deep breathing helps the flow of lymph fluid from your chest away into your bloodstream. It helps neck swelling or headaches.
- Manual lymphatic massage: This technique assists your lymphatic system to function properly and helps your body remove excess fluids back into your bloodstream.
Eat foods to help your lymph flow
According to research, your lymphatic system serves as a bridge between your metabolic function and related inflammation. So eating healthy foods to help support wellness is an essential part of living. Here are just a few foods to add to your regular diet.
- Brazil nuts
- Ground flaxseeds
- Leafy greens
- Low sugar fruits like berries
- Citrus fruits
Your lymphatic system is your body’s clean-up crew. It removes the toxins and waste that build up in your lymph nodes. Lymph fluid contains white blood cells plus other cells that help boost your immune system. Your lymphatic system needs your muscle’s movement to enhance the lymph flow out of your tissues and back into your bloodstream. This is why stretches and yoga poses are so important. A healthy lymphatic system protects you from infections, diseases, and other illnesses.