Can you put your hand on a lymph node? Most of us know that we have some in our neck, because when we get sick, these back up with toxins and get tender and swollen. But beyond that, this intricate network of knotty white peas remains a mystery right under the skin. Literally.
You'd know more about lymph nodes if you've ever had cancer. Lymph nodes are commonly removed to check for microscopic cancer cells which may have escaped a tumor. Then the problem can become painfully real, since the closed system of lymph nodes does not repair itself and may need additional help draining.
Enter yoga and self-massage. The lymphatic system has no direct pump, like the circulatory system of the heart. The lymph nodes depend on our bodies moving. The skin gets moved when we do yoga poses (or any type of movement and exercise). However, yoga poses stretch the skin in such ways that the lymphatic system happily drains toxins with each move. Thus the advice to drink one or two glasses of water two hours before doing yoga.
But if you can't do all the postures you want to do, you can use a simple and effective system of self-massage.
1. Start at the collar bone and use two fingers to come from the sides and up to the middle, over the thyroid.
2. Continue flat-handed on the sides of the neck, massaging in a downward motion toward the heart.
3. The sides of the body and under the arm are especially important for breast cancer patients who have had lymph nodes removed Go from the waist to under the arm, in an upward motion.
4. Gentle squeeze the palm of the hands and move the fluid up the arms, being gentle and yet moving the skin and stretching it to its limit (without any pain).
5. You can do the same thing for the legs, up the center of the body and again toward the heart.