Autumn – Nourish Your Lymphatic System
My interest in the lymphatic system began over 15years ago when I complained of being tired all the time and couldn’t seem to shake it. There was an intuitive sense or feeling that I wasn’t dealing well with stress, food sensitivities – well okay, modern life full stop. My main motivation was a deep felt need to really love and honour my body, my temple in a way that supported me accepting and acknowledging the changes in my body as I aged with love. And perhaps more so after conversations with women who expressed feelings of shame or disgust towards themselves after they were out of their youthful years think 20 – 30 years. Women are beautiful at any age.
I think woman really come into their own in their 40 ‘s and beyond and we should collectively stand up and take back our right to be strong, sexy, vibrant at all ages in our life cycle. The modern disease of seeing youth as something to aspire to seems to be a way to keep women down and in their box so to speak. It also seems to be a way to market a whole lot of stuff to make us think we will be or look younger after using their products when in fact ageing is a natural and beautiful part of life.
I routinely use my body brush to stimulate and exfoliate my skin and it has helped tremendously with skin tone, cellulite and makes you feel great especially if you take that extra 5 minutes and massage on some oil. While that is settling in, I eat breakfast and then shower it of all ready for my day. This makes me feel alive, vibrant and very feminine.
So let’s look at the lymphatic system …
The lymphatic system is a network of organs, lymph vessels, cells, and nodes working in conjunction with your circulation system. It acts as a system of detoxification or cleansing the body by removing waste though is often overlooked yet is an integral part of the overall immune system in the human body. Now while the body knows how to clean itself through the organs of the kidney and liver, and of course, the skin, the lymphatic system doesn’t have its own pump so it requires movement to massage and help squeeze the nodes, vessels and cells. We can give it a helping hand through movement and flow, like yoga, swimming, massage, and this is particularly important because we are living in toxic modern world flooded with chemicals and other nasties. The lymphatic system not only promotes healthy circulation, it also supports our kidney and adrenal glands and nourishes our overall nervous system.
How can you tell when your lymphatic system isn’t flowing?
You will experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Swollen glands, puffy face, bloating and water retention, fatigue, headaches, sinus infections, brain fog, dry and itchy skin, breast tenderness, cold hands and feet, food sensitivities, lowered immunity, stiffness in the body when waking up.
GOOD NEWS – the wonderful thing about your lymphatic system is that supporting it is simple, very enjoyable and effective very quickly.
Internal and external hydration is essential for a fluid moving lymphatic system. The most obvious cause of stagnant lymph is chronic dehydration. Increase your intake of filtered or spring water. Start your day with warm water with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Eat more fruits like citrus and pineapple as support lymphatic flow and lots of green juice think celery, cucumber, spinach perhaps add pineapple for some sweetness. Try to reduce or cut out caffeine and alcohol.
Move, move, move. Find what shakes your tree and do it regularly. The lymphatic system likes movement – yoga, tai chi, walking, running, dancing, swimming, gym work. This is especially important if you have a desk job so try to get up every hour, walk in your lunch break, try to move as much as possible throughout your day. Move with love and move with softness to keep the flow going.
We have all heard about how inversions are the best lymphatic yoga pose. Standing on your head, your shoulders, your forearms, but wait, what about good old viparita karani or legs up the wall. Almost everyone can do this pose. The benefit of legs up the wall is that you can stay with ease and be relaxed for 20 minutes. This restorative pose helps the body drop into the parasympathetic, otherwise known as the rest and digest state. Extra bonus it will help you find some relaxation time and thus reduce stress because there can be no flow in the body when there is chronic stress.
Dry Body Brushing
A simple practice to introduce and keep up as it honestly only takes a few minutes, think 2 – 5 minutes. A brush is inexpensive and mine is till going strong after 10 year. This brush is a great price, can be sourced in Australia and is excellent.
Brush toward the heart, rinse off in the shower and then cover yourself in almond or black sesame oil. If you’re into essential oils you could add sandalwood, lavender, bergamot, rosemary, cirus or a combination. I like these combinations cedarwood, clove and vetiver or lavender, clary sage and bergamot.
A self massage with warm oil from the Ayurvedic tradition is something I do almost every day.
I wrote a whole article on this a few years ago on abhyanga read more.
The blog covers all the important information including how to give yourself a self massage + information on choose an appropriate oil. I love these ayurvedic oils from Bio Veda an Australian based company who use sustainably sourced glass bottles to keep the oils fresh.
If you cannot smell a massage oil to see if you resonates with you then learn about your doshas. What’s a dosha? Learn more.
If you don’t have enough tome to massage your whole body then take the time to give your feet a good oiling and some tender loving care. We do this in many of my yin and restorative classes and on my retreats. I am very keen on giving my feet a massage every night before bed… drop that energy down. My favourite is organic almond oil or black sesame oil with a few drops of organic sandalwood, frankincense and lavender.
Of course, you can always book yourself a massage. I teach self massage on my retreats in Bali yet there is nothing more sublime then simply lying down and relaxing and letting someone massage you. When in Bali I have as many as I can and wow does it make a difference yet I know it is too expensive to keep it up once I am home so self massage is my favourite morning ritual.
I love salt scrubs and they really get your lymph flowing. Grab a small bowl and fill it with himalayan pink salt – use good quality salt as your skin is porous – add some almond oil until the salt is wet and if you wish a few drops of your favourite essential oils. Stand on a towel in your bathroom, or in a warm bath and scrub from from the feet up toward the heart with just enough intensity to turn your skin slightly pink. Rinse off in the shower or even better, slip into a hot bath afterwards.
Gua Sha is a chinese tradition of massaging your face and neck using a heart shaped tool made of jade or sometimes rose quartz. If you are prone to breakouts this can often be a sign of a sluggish immune system. I gua sha on my neck and face and my skin has never felt or looked better.