Using Gravity to Address Lymphedema

By Jennifer Brilliant, y4c Certified Teacher

The accumulation of fluid associated with Lymphedema occurs when lymphatic fluid cannot return from the limbs to the thoracic region of the body.  This issue is a common side effect of many surgeries and cancer treatments. Any yoga pose that uses gravity to assist in correcting the proper flow will be beneficial to the reduction and/or prevention of lymphedema.

Arms RaisedThis uses gravity to assist flow of lymph, increase body awareness, musculoskeletal strength. Arms up position also challenges cardiovascular system.

To Do:

Dandasana – Staff pose (Seated on a blanket with legs straight out in front of you. Spine is upright) Inhale your right arm up, exhale and lower. Inhale left arm up, exhale and lower. Repeat 3 times.

Sukhasana – Easy Crossed Legs with arms lifted, palms facing each other. Inhale your arms up, exhale and bring your arms down. Repeat 3 times.

Tadasana – Mountain Pose. Inhale your arms up, exhale your arms down. Repeat 3 times.

Elbow Pump– Increases flexibility in your shoulders. As arms raise, gravity is used to increase lymph drainage.

To do: Grasp opposite elbows. Keep your torso stationary and facing forward.  Alternate movement of elbows side to side.  Continue with this repetition gradually raising arms higher and higher to your comfort level. You may be able to grasp elbows and move arms side to side with arms overhead. If you have a more limited range of movement, raise arms to your comfort level.

Viparita Karani – Legs Up Wall– Uses gravity to aid lymph drainage, rests your body and mind

To do: Place your buttocks up on a blanket and rest your legs up on the wall and relax for several minutes.  This allows lymph fluid to drain towards your thoracic duct.