By Atul Vyas
Several systems of the body help to defend it against hazards like ultraviolet sunlight, harmful chemicals, microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses, etc. The immune system wards off most of the invasion largely through the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is an integral part of the immune system and plays an important role in the body’s defense mechanism against diseases. The lymphatic system is a network of nodes, vessels, and valves that lie just under the skin and transport lymph throughout the body. Lymph is one important method of body detoxification. It helps remove fluid between cells and keep white cells circulating to fight infection. It also extracts the waste products from the digestive tract and transports them to lymph nodes.
The lymph nodes are concentrated immune cells that destroy harmful agents such as viruses and bacteria and eliminate wastes by shunting them out of the bloodstream and throwing them out through the liver and kidneys.
It is basically a waste removal system that has a key role in the digestive process in the body. The lymph is not moved by heart or smooth muscle action and thus can easily become sluggish and backed up. In such an event, it cannot remove toxins from the digestive system. Sluggish lymph builds up as fluid accumulation throughout the body making one look puffy and chubby.
Since lymph has to move against gravity without any internal mechanism it needs external support for its movement. This support comes in many forms and of them is yoga.
There is a system in yoga called “Granthi” meaning a knot or a gland and lymph comes under Varun granthi, the water glands. There are many yogic techniques to strengthen Varun Granthis and one of them is “Viparita Karani Mudra”.
Any pose in which the head is below the heart is helpful in lymph movement. In Viparita Karani Mudra, the body fluid moves through by muscle activity and gravity. It is a topsy-turvy pose in which the head shoulders and upper back are on the ground and the rest of the body is up. The simpler version is the one in which one does it with support say of a wall, in which the body up to hips are on the floor while the rest is up with the support of a wall.
- Lie flat on your back with legs fully stretched and heels and toes joined together
- Lift the lower part of the body in such a way that the head, shoulders, and upper back remain on ground while the rest of the body is raised
- Legs may tilt towards the head or bent
- Support the trunk and waist with your hands, elbows on the ground
- Breathe normally
- Hold it for 5 seconds to start with and then gradually increase the duration
- Very good for people suffering from low blood pressure
- Good for people suffering from Hernia
- Cures nervous tension, vertigo, and mild depression
- Relieves constipation
- Enhances memory, and eyesight
- Reduces pain of varicose veins
- Induces ventricular relaxation, and helps in the venous blood return
Note of Caution
People suffering from cardiovascular disorders, retinal issues, or cervical spondylosis should not perform this pose.
(The author likes to be called a “Yoga Scientist.” He is a celebrity yoga trainer and has trained several top Hollywood and Bollywood stars. He has trained for years under many eminent yoga gurus including his illustrious mother Daya Vyas, the first lady yoga guru of India.)