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The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is associated with the circulatory and immune systems but is a separate system along with the respiratory, digestive, excretory, nervous, endocrine, integumentary (skin, hair, nails, and exocrine glands), skeletal, muscular, and reproductive.

The lymphatic system is referred to as the body's sewer system. It is made up of the spleen, thymus, tonsils, adenoids, bone marrow, Peyer's patches (in the small intestine), the appendix, the lymph vessels (transportation tubes), and lymphatic nodes (filters). Its primary function is to transport the lymph-containing lymphocytes (infection-fighting white blood cells) and to collect and filter wastes (proteins and cellular debris) and foreign agents like bacteria, viruses, and infected cells, moving them toward elimination.

Approximately twenty liters of plasma (blood) flow through your body's arteries, arteriole blood vessels, and capillaries daily in the circulatory system. After delivering nutrients to the body's cells and tissues and receiving their waste products, only two-thirds are returned to circulation through the veins (venous return system). The remaining liquid (lymph) seeps through the capillaries and into your body's tissues via the lymphatic vessels (tubes), which connect to the lymph nodes (600-700), where the lymph is filtered. It goes to the lymphatic ducts (just below the neck and above the heart), where it is dumped into the subclavian vein and finally moves back into the bloodstream.

Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system is an open network that releases and collects fluids but has no pumping system. The movement of lymph in the vessels (tubes) happens as you breathe and when you move your muscles, along with the action of the venous (veins) return system, which pulsates the lymph upwards from the lower extremities.

The movement is only upwards because of valves that do not allow backflow. As the muscles contract, these valves open, and the vessels push the fluid up. As the muscles relax, these valves close the backflow of the lymphatic fluid is prevented by this part of the skeletomuscular pump.

The most common condition associated with this system is lymphatic congestion, which occurs over time as the lymphatic system fails to drain properly, creating toxins and cellular wastes in the body. This is where The practices of Ayurveda and Yoga play an essential part in keeping the body, mind, and spirit healthy by naturally ridding this congestion.

In Ayurveda, the lymphatic system is called the river of life; the lymph fluid is the water. One of Ayurveda's foundational practices is Panchakarma, which is detoxification and rejuvenation of the body, mind, and spirit, and Abhyanga "lymphatic" massage is the fundamental therapy done which uses synchronized movements to release toxins from the tissues, ultimately towards elimination.

Although there are many differences from other forms of exercise, yoga is considered the premiere it emphasizes because it uses every part of the body, naturally contracting and relaxing the muscles, which forces the benefits of the movement of toxins towards purification and elimination.

Inverted poses drain the lymph from the lower extremities by reversing gravity, where twisting, forward bending, and backbends squeeze the muscles and organs, pushing the lymph upwards through thoracic ducts. Standing and sitting asanas are beneficial by the contraction and relaxation of leg muscles activate the skeletal-muscular pumping system. The pranayama practice contracts and relaxes the respiratory muscles directing the lymph through the lymphatic ducts.

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