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Lymphatic System, Immune System and Creativity


Backbends expose lymphatic creativityHealing the Total Body: Where Western Anatomy Meets Eastern Spiritual Science

Healing Series, part 7 

Table of Contents:

Lymphatic system

Lymph nodes and vessels

Pumping lymphatic fluid

Creativity and intuition

TCM and Qi

(back to the Healing Series)


Lymphatic System

If my Lymphatic System is off balance, that's when I feel the effects of it (when it's not working). My lymph nodes swell up and are painful when the system is not working adequately. Yoga breathing, physical movement and a stress-free lifestyle are proactive toward lymphatic imbalance.

Protection against infection and disease

The Lymphatic System is the body’s drainage, composed of lymph nodes and ducts that transport watery fluid called lymph. Its purpose is to protect me against infection and disease as it operates as part of the Immune System. I seldom get sick so I must be doing something right. I give my lifestyle, that is induced by Ashtanga yoga, credit.

From a nutritional standpoint, drinking warm water and lemon first thing in morning balances pH, detoxifies and hydrates the Lymphatic System as it helps rid the system of toxins. I do this before my morning coffee without thinking, while I'm half asleep. It's my balance.

Working together with the Cardiovascular System, the Lymphatic System delivers nutrients to cells and removes metabolic waste. A one-way system, it brings lymphatic fluid from the tissues and brings it to circulation in the blood for use. The Immune System is closely related, specifically responsible for the body’s response to foreign microorganisms and molecules. The Immune System operates through cells of the Lymphatic System.


Lymph nodes and vessels

Why do lymph nodes swell when I’m off balance? The Lymphatic System is meant to drain toxins (a filtration mechanism) from the tissues through thin-walled tubes called lymphatic vessels which are distributed throughout the body, numerous in the skin.

Keep lymph flowing by moving your body

Lymphatic fluid traveling through the vessels passes through lymph nodes before entering the blood, and when it can’t do its job—when the fluid isn’t pumped sufficiently or the concentration is too high—the nodes become inflamed and blocked.

Lymph nodes reside in the neck, groin, bend of elbow, bend of knee and armpits. They are closer to the surface of the skin as are the lymphatic vessels. (Tonsils are lymph nodes too and get inflamed when the Immune System brings on a sore throat.)

Since the lymph vessels are so close to the surface of the skin, sweating helps to clean the system. Contrast showers (hot water, cold water, hot water, cold water, etc.) improve circulation and lymph drainage as does dry body brushing.


Pumping lymphatic fluid

What toxins are filtered out in the Lymphatic System? The lymph fluid, derived from blood, exerted by the heart, is unable to pass proteins and microorganisms (fats digested in the Digestive System) directly into blood capillaries, so they remain in high concentration in the lymph. Edema (accumulation of fluid) can occur if lymphatic vessels are blocked as in the case with an infection, a delay in blood movement through the veins or during inflammation. Protein present draws water out to contribute to swelling. The answer is to get the fluids moving again…

Toxins and inflammation

The Thymus lymphoid organ, located in the throat region, contains the supportive T-lymphocytes (basic Immune System cells that migrate to the lymph nodes, responsible for the lymph’s filtration before entering bloodstream). The Thymus is also considered a gland since it produces and secretes hormones which help to mature the T-lymphocytes.

Yoga asanas, vinyasas and breathing help to pump this precious fluid. It's a healthy system for people who exercise. Stopping the body’s movement causes some stagnancy in the system. The Lymphatic System doesn’t have an organ to pump the lymph flow.

Pump your own lymphatic fluid

Lymphatic massage is a method employed to help get the lymph fluid to pump more easily throughout the body, and afterwards, drinking water is important to flush out all of the toxins which were massaged out. The Lymphatic vessels are mostly on the front side of the body. A lymphatic massage is a slow, light-pressured gentle massage on these vessels and nodes, which not only keeps the lymph moving but also opens up a sensual, creative power in me.


Creativity and intuition

Where the subtle body is concerned, I feel intuitive and creative while in tune with this system. The Lymphatic System has a watery nature, which relates to intuition (and I’m a Pisces). The sixth chakra (Third Eye Chakra) is known to reside in the Lympathic System.

Stay intuitive and real

Third Eye Chakra is intuition. When this chakra is out of balance, my intuition is off; if it’s blocked, my intuition won’t work, but if too dominant, my intuition will be in the forefront not allowing me to be considerate to life’s realities and universe’s intentions for my life.

When I am emotionally imbalanced, it’s because I do not trust—cannot see with my inner eye (location of sixth chakra). If I cannot trust my intuition, I cannot clear out the mind toxins with my yoga practice.

Trust yourself and your healing powers

If I cannot get past the first yoga sutra, complete cessation of the mind, I cannot find my true self (Sattva). If I cannot find my spirit and am not present, I’m not able to experience all of the benefits of my yoga practice. As a result I cannot see with my intuition. A full circle. The sixth chakra is known to be circularly connected to the second chakra which is creativity. (Source: Wheels of Life, Anodea Judith)

Now it is obvious why I intuitively pair creativity with the Lymphatic System. Connected to my intuition through the subtle body, I'm indirectly connected to my energy center of creativity. Activating the lymph system, to send toxins through to filtration and then to my bloodstream, is a lot of work. Some of the toxins being filtrated are the inaccurate emotional stories and mental patterns (i.e., Samskaras).

It's the work I do in yoga—pure focus with long even breaths to calm me and ignite my intuition and clarity—setting my creative heart up for magic. Backbends in yoga are not just about the back, but about the front opening up, enlivening a somatic sensation. It's when this subtle channel is thriving that I feel the best about myself. It's different than the heart feeling open with love. It's a personal power and beauty, an asset to cherish. It's my life force.

There is a reason for the specific Ashtanga sequences in Mysore-style yoga. The ability to follow the sequence shows discipline which is important on the yogic path (and any goal in life). Its effect on the Lymphatic System are a good example, as it keeps getting better and better.


TCM and Qi

The Spleen lymphoid organ is a reservoir of lymphocytes for the body. It filters blood and is important in red blood cell and iron metabolism, destructing and recycling before routing to the liver. The Spleen is a storage depot for blood.


In TCM, where balance is key, Qi is transformed. The stomach and spleen act as a crucial central axis for many physiological processes. It is the center for Qi and Blood, and therefore all organs depend on them for nourishment. As the Middle Burner, the stomach and spleen optimal functioning affect the movement of Qi directly. Spleen-Qi ascends (when it’s healthy) to send the essences extracted from food up to the Lungs and Heart where they are transformed into Qi and Blood. (Source: The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalists, Maciocia)