When you decide to detox your body, you must consider your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system consists of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste products, and other unwanted material. The primary role of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid substance, which carries white blood cells to fight off infection.
In Ayurveda, toxins are called ama or sticky residue. Proper exercise, nutrition, and especially water consumption can help move these toxins out of the body. There are many yoga poses that can help stimulate the lymphatic system and move lymph through the 600 to 700 lymph nodes that are in your body. Try these five yoga poses to stimulate your lymphatic system. If you’ve had any lymph nodes removed, consult your healthcare professional before trying these poses.
Krounchasana (Heron Pose)
Sit on the floor with the left leg folded in toward the inner thigh. Bend your right knee with your foot on the floor. Lift up your toes and interlace your fingers around your instep. Make sure you’re grounded on both sitting bones and lengthen through the spine. Lift your right leg straight up toward your head. Make sure you draw your lower back in and up.
Relax your shoulders as you hold your extended leg. Breathe deeply through the lower belly as you hold the pose. If it’s difficult for you to extend the leg while holding on to your instep, you can place both hands on your calf as you extend your leg upward.
For a challenge, start the pose by first rotating the left leg outward and back so your left foot is next to your hip. Hold the pose for a minute, and then take the other side.
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Gomukhasana can be quite challenging. You may want to use a yoga strap or an old necktie. Start by sitting in cross-legged pose, which is always an option if the cow face leg position is too difficult. Keep your left leg tucked in and cross your right leg all the way over the top. You can place your right foot on the floor or wrap it toward the hip completely so your knees are aligned.
Now, wrap your left arm underneath and behind you with the palm facing the back wall and the fingers pointed toward the sky. Raise your right arm above your head and bend at the elbow to join your left hand behind you. If you can’t join both hands together, use the strap in your right and catch it with your left. Sit up tall with the spine lengthened. The crown of your head should rise up toward the ceiling. Your head should be neutral to the spine. Breathe deeply through your belly and hold the pose for 1 to 2 minutes. Switch sides.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Spinal Twist Pose)
Start in a seated position with the legs extended straight outward. For a beginner, you will bend the right knee up toward the torso with your foot on the floor.
Lengthen through the spine and extend your left arm outward, to the left. Bring the left arm in front of you and wrap it around the right knee, placing the hand on the outside of your knee. Bring your right hand to the floor behind the tailbone and press down as you straighten your arm and back. Open the right shoulder behind you as you turn your gaze to the right. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 1 to 2 minutes. Switch sides.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie flat on your stomach with your forehead on the floor. Bring your feet together with the big toes touching. Place your hands on the floor with the elbows bent and the fingertips slightly behind the shoulders. Press the feet to the floor, squeeze your bottom, and press the pubic bone toward the mat. As you press your elbows in toward the torso, roll your shoulders back away from the ears, and lift your head and upper chest. You will feel cobra in the triceps and lower back. Try to hold the pose for 15 to 30 seconds. Try to do the pose three or four times over a two-minute period.
Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
Lie flat on your belly with the arms along side of you. Bend both knees so the soles of your feet are facing the ceiling. Wrap your hands around your ankles or feet. Lift your head, upper chest, and thighs off the floor. To stimulate the internal organs, breathe deeply. This will create a slight rocking motion. To modify the pose, do an alternating bow. Bring the left arm forward and hold only the right foot with the right arm. Lift the head, chest, and thigh on one side, then switch. Alternatively, you can use a yoga strap to catch the feet if your arms can’t quite reach around to hold them. Try holding bow pose for two minutes.
Remember the lymphatic system doesn’t have an automatic pump to move toxins out of the body. It’s up to you to drink plenty of water, get an adequate amount of exercise, practice diaphragmatic breathing, and insure proper elimination. If you do these things daily, you are on your way to lowering the toxins in your body.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
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