A common misconception is that you have to be flexible to do yoga. Nothing could be further from the truth! Yoga is so much more than bending your body like a contortionist. Yoga means “yoking,” which means bringing something together. Connecting your body with your breath, your mind with your body, your spirit with your soul—yoga is yoking every system and aspect of the body together to become more harmonious. Moving your body in and out of asanas facilitates movement in cardiovascular, respiratory, and lymphatic system to help detox the body and cleanse the mind. The lymphatic system plays an integral role in the immune functions of the body and is your first line of defense. Our bodies are meant to be resilient; it is our traditional lifestyles that can get in the way. Yoga is known to prevent disease, make you more mindful, and provide you with the tools for longevity living.
Yoga and Your Lymphatic System
Yoga does everything from improving digestion and circulation, balancing neurotransmitters, lowering blood pressure and blood sugars, improving your mood, and so on. One of the most important things yoga improves is the lymphatic system, which plays a dramatic role in the immune functions of the body and is our first line of defense against disease. We have to manually pump the lymph through our system through movement,
and the flow determines our immune response. Think of the lymph as the sewage system of the body, helping to rid of toxins, pathogens, and waste from the cells. If you sit all day and get little movement, the lymph stays stagnant and collects this waste, causing a buildup and therefore lowering your immunity. Lymph not only helps kill pathogens like bacteria and viruses and create white blood cells; it helps facilitate the absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients in the digestive system as well.
What are some symptoms of an unbalanced lymphatic system? Inflammation in the joints, nutrient deficiencies, skin conditions, digestive disorders, headaches, sinus infections, excess weight, chronic fatigue, and increase risk of injuries and infections are some of the issues experienced if the lymphatic system isn’t functioning properly. The flow and movement of the outside body helps the flow of the organs and detox system inside the body. We need to adjust our thinking that yoga is only exercise, because in fact it is a healing workout that helps assist with vitality in all the organs.
Yoga and Your Diet
From mat to table, how does yoga yoke your flows to your food? Just as yoga trains the mind to be more focused and connected, it trains the body to do the same. You may find that on days you do yoga you crave healthier foods, drink more water, and make clearer eating decisions. When you do movements that help push the lymph, you ramp up your digestion and thus absorb nutrients better, push out bacteria and buildup in the digestive system to help eliminate bloat, and move fluids out of the tissue to reduce swelling.
The most important benefit of yoga, though, is what it does for the mind. It makes you calmer and more relaxed and can dramatically improve stress, anxiety, and mood disorders. You don’t necessarily have to attend a yoga class to receive any of these benefits. Yoga can be done at home, at a desk in a chair, or even deep breathing when you are in your car. Yoga can be done anywhere, at any time, and every day! Some simple stretching or movement and deep breathing are enough to help you relax the body, move the lymph, and learn to let go so your body will flow.
Betsy Opyt RD, LD/N, CDE, RYT is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator, Integrative & Functional Medicine Nutrition Therapist, and RYT200 yoga teacher. She specializes in nutrigenomics, gut health, food sensitivities, detoxing, inflammatory diseases, and longevity living. She also understands the importance of living a mindful life and incorporates her background of mindfulness and yoga teaching to her practice. Betsy is a professional speaker and advocate for healthy living and is available for individual consultations, group programs, and speaking engagements. Betsy also owns 4 Elements Yoga Naples, an outdoor balcony yoga experience.
To learn more, visit: www.healthyconceptsconsulting.com, www.yoga4elements.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 239.297.8844.