Do you get heavy legs? You’re not the only one! Having the unpleasant sensation of heaviness and pain in your lower limbs is not uncommon even among young people.
It can actually happen during the summer, or after a hectic day at work, school, or even after a nice, but all - standing day of shopping.
An activity that can help alleviate this uncomfortable feeling is Yoga.
Let’s start better understanding what happened in your body that gave you this horrible sensation and how yoga can help.
The Lymphatic System Role & How it works
As you probably know, the Lymphatic System is a big body network, comprising of vessels and nodes, which transports the lymph through the circulatory system toward the heart.
The lymph is a clear fluid that originates as an interstitial body fluid which is a liquid that lays in the empty space between tissues structures.
One of the main functions of the lymphatic system is to drain excess interstitial fluid that accumulates. If the liquid is not well drained we start experiencing unpleasant sensations in our limbs, with the possibility of facing a dangerous medical condition called Edema, or excess fluid retention, that leads to the swelling of the area.
An interesting fact about the lymphatic system is that it lacks a central pump, like the heart in the cardio vascular system, therefore the movement of the lymph thought the vessels is mainly due to the skeletal muscle contractions situated around them, and in part to breathing movements.
Skeletal muscle contractions make tiny one - way valves of the lymph system open and close and push the fluid to the subclavian veins.
Breathing movements can be a lymphatic pump in itself and can help direct lymph upward into your body. Proper and deep breathing, in fact, is one of the most important facilitator of lymphatic function, by contrast, constant shallow breathing leads to lymphatic congestion.
Based on this is easily understandable how insufficient physical activity and/or short and unaware breathing can make it difficult to remove liquids and slag.
Here’s how Yoga could be a solution to this problem.
The term Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word meaning "union." Indeed, Yoga is a practice that combines physical exercises, and breathing techniques.
Movements and breathing are ways to help your lymphatic system do its job by reducing accumulation of interstitial fluid, and improving the immune system activity. That means less heavy sensations and less water retention.
Let’s understand this process closer by taking Vinyasa practice as an example.
Vinyasa Yoga is a super popular yoga style which is characterized by performing a dynamic sequence of poses one after the other. The key of this practice is to synchronize breathing with a continuous flow of postures.
The muscle contraction and the stretching that occurs during this practice, causes the squeezing and licking of lymph vessels increasing their tonicity and pushing the lymph up to the circulatory stream against gravity, eliminating excess fluid.
Deep and controlled breathing also helps.
I don’t know about you but when I think about yoga one of the first thing I imagine are the upside-down poses, and another example regarding how yoga can increase lymphatic return is considering what happens into your body while you are practicing these kinds of poses, called Inversions.
These positions, in which the yogi's heart is at a higher level than the head, revers the gravity effect encouraging the flow of lymph back to the heart.
By doing that any accumulation of interstitial fluid is drained and the feeling of having heavy legs could disappear.
Give it a try!
Special Thanks to Marta Milani - @Yogi Sprout