Yoga for Lymphedema
Winter has finally arrived in Northern Illinois, and it may be challenging to get outside to exercise for a while. However, exercise is a vital aspect of managing lymphedema and lipedema. Therefore, it might be a good time to try something new, like yoga, to help stimulate your lymphatic system. Unlike the circulatory system, which has the heart pumping blood throughout the body, the lymphatic system needs movement to work effectively. Yoga provides numerous benefits to the body and mind, including improved flexibility, strength, balance, and mental clarity. In addition, research has shown that yoga can benefit those dealing with lymphedema. The deep diaphragmatic breathing and simple repetitive movements of the hands, arms, neck, torso, and hips involved in many forms of yoga help the lymph flow optimally. Yoga also helps to increase the range of motion and strength, which can help counter lymphedema’s impact.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is when fluid accumulates in the body, usually in the arms or legs. An obstruction or damage to the lymphatic system, which is responsible for transporting fluid throughout the body, can cause lymphedema. Lymphedema is often the result of surgery, radiation therapy, or trauma. However, it can also be a genetic defect or cancer. Symptoms of lymphedema may include swelling, a feeling of heaviness, and pain or discomfort.
Benefits of Yoga for Lymphedema
Yoga can be an excellent form of exercise for those dealing with lymphedema. It can help to reduce swelling, improve circulation, and improve range of motion and flexibility. Studies have also shown that yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, which are common in those dealing with chronic illnesses such as lymphedema or lipedema. Here are some of the specific benefits of yoga:
- Improved Lymphatic Flow: The lymphatic system needs movement in the body to move lymph. The gentle exercise of yoga helps to promote the movement of lymphatic fluid throughout the body.
- Improved Circulation: Yoga helps to promote improved circulation throughout the body, which can help to reduce swelling and discomfort associated with lymphedema.
- Improved Range of Motion: Many yoga postures require a certain amount of flexibility and range of motion, which can help to improve mobility in those dealing with lymphedema.
- Stress Reduction: Studies have shown that yoga can help to reduce stress and improve mental clarity, which can help to improve the quality of life.
- Improved Strength: Yoga can also help build strength and benefit those with lymphedema.
Tips for Getting Started
If you are new to yoga, starting slow and working your way up is essential. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Talk to your doctor or medical professional: Before starting yoga, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help you determine if yoga is an appropriate form of exercise for you and provide tips for getting started.
- Find an instructor: It is essential to find an experienced and knowledgeable instructor who understands lymphedema. An experienced teacher will ensure that you do the postures correctly and safely.
- Start slowly: Start with gentle postures and only increase your intensity when ready.
- Listen to your body: Stop and rest if you feel tired or in pain.
- Wear Your compression garments: Be sure to wear your compression garments while exercising to support your arms and legs.
- Remember to breathe: Breathing helps to strengthen the diaphragm, which promotes lymph flow.
A Good Place To Start
Yoga can be an excellent form of exercise for those dealing with lymphedema. If you cannot find an in-person class where you live, try an online course. Yoga with Shoosh is an excellent place to start. Shoosh has been teaching yoga for over 40 years and specializes in lymphatic flow yoga. You also might like to check out the website Balance With Babz. Barbara, known as Babz, is an occupational lymphedema therapist and a yoga instructor who teaches virtual yoga online.
Yoga can help to reduce swelling, improve circulation, and improve range of motion and flexibility. It can also help to reduce stress and improve mental clarity and quality of life. Start slowly and safely to incorporate yoga into your routine. Does anyone have a favorite yoga position that they would like to share? Child’s pose and downward dog are two of my favorites! Comment below and share your insights on yoga and lymphedema.
Disclaimer – This blog is for general information purposes only. Furthermore, the information in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice – always consult a licensed healthcare professional for advice on your specific condition.