Relieve Lymphedema Using Yoga

Lymphedema Relief Through Yoga

If you are feeling overwhelmed, if you are relying on drugs or alcohol to cope, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, you should get medical assistance. Your primary care physician can assist you by providing advice, giving medication, or sending you to a therapist if you require one. According to a statement from Cleveland Clinic At times, it is natural and acceptable to feel anxious. Chronic stress, on the other hand, can result in bodily symptoms, emotional problems, and bad behavior.

Consult your doctor if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Yoga and Cancer: A Sequence to Help Alleviate Lymphedema

Cheryl Fenner Brown, C-IAYT, E-RYT 500, is a certified Integrative Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist. The most recent update was made on June 20, 2019. Original publication date: May 02, 2019 In addition to lymphedema, which is swelling of the extremities caused by damage to the lymphatic system, one of the most severe side effects of cancer therapy is anemia. The lymphatic system, which is a component of the immune system, is composed of nodes, veins, and organs that carry lymph throughout the whole body.

  • Nodules in the lymphatic system house cells that aid in the fight against infection and filter lymph before it returns to the circulation.
  • During the course of breast cancer therapy, lymph nodes are frequently removed and examined for the presence of cancer cells.
  • According to one poll, between 50 and 75 percent of women who had lymph nodes removed as part of breast cancer therapy were concerned about acquiring the illness, but less than 20 percent of those women really did acquire the disease (1).
  • (2) Manual lymph draining, elevation of the afflicted limb, compression garments, breathing exercises, and mobility are all effective lymphedema therapies.

Yoga and Lymphedema

The lymphatic system, in contrast to the circulatory system, which depends on the heart’s pumping action to transport blood through the veins, is dependent on the body’s motions to circulate lymph. In various styles of yoga, deep diaphragmatic breathing and simple repeated motions of the hands, arms, neck, torso, and hips are employed, which all aid in the proper flow of lymphatic fluid. Yoga also has the added benefit of increasing range of motion and strength, which can assist to mitigate the effects of lymphedema when done slowly and carefully.

There are several poses, such as Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Sirsasana (Headstand), Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) (see photo above right), and Halasana (Plow Pose), that place excessive strain on the arms, shoulders, If the lower extremities are damaged, positions that compress the legs excessively, such as Padmasana (Lotus Pose) or Balasana (Child’s Pose) with deeply bent knees, should be avoided as well.

Yoga Practice Tips

  • Use yoga to help you heal and make yoga a part of your life after cancer by doing a little bit every day
  • This will give you the time and space you need to heal. Throughout the practice, keep your attention on your body and your breath, and only move within your comfortable range of motion. If you begin to feel uncomfortable, dizzy, nauseous, or out of breath, stop immediately and take a few seconds to relax. For lymphatic flow to be stimulated, this sequence consists of motions that manually compress and stretch the armpit, abdominal, and groin areas. It is critical to totally relax the muscles and rest in between the active phases of each movement
  • Otherwise, the exercise will not be effective. The following items will be useful for this practice: a yoga mat, a chair, and a blanket or pillow.

Repeat Intention with Anushasana Mudra

One of the instruments of yoga is the practice of mudras, which are hand gestures that connect the physical and energetic bodies. In this position, utilize Anushasana Mudra to stimulate vyana vayu, the pranic channel that flows from the center of the body to the extremities and aids in the circulation of the lymphatic system.

  1. Lie down or sit comfortably in a comfortable position to begin. Place your hands palms up on your knees and relax. Make a soft fist and extend your index fingers outward as far as possible
  2. Inhale deeply and think that your inhalations are drawing energy inward from the perimeter of your body toward the center of your body while you hold this mudra. While exhaling, see energy extending forth from the center of your body to the edges. You might use the intention “My immunity is strong.” to remind yourself of your intention and repeat it three times silently.

Reclining Floor Yoga Flow

The reclining floor flow is a simple set of motions that massages the lymphatic processes in the armpits, belly, and groins, as well as other areas of the body. Also beneficial for hip, lower spine, and shoulder discomfort are the use of ice and heat. This activity can be carried out on the floor or in a bed, as desired.

  1. Relax in a reclining position with your legs outstretched. Lift your arms over your head to a comfortable posture as you inhale
  2. Pull your right knee toward your chest as you exhale. On your next inhale, open your left arm out from your shoulder and bring your right leg out from your shoulder. As you exhale, move your knee across your body to your left hand, rotating your pelvis and lower spine to the left and turning your head to the right. Inhale and bring your right leg and body back to the center, extending your right foot upward and clasping your hands behind your right thigh
  3. Exhale and repeat on the other side. Take a deep breath and bring your knee into your chest. After exhaling, return to the beginning posture, with your arms stretched above your head and your legs extended on the floor. Take a few deep breaths and relax here.

Replace your right leg with your left and repeat the full series of motions, changing sides up to five times each. Between each set of flowing motions, take a few deep breaths and then repeat the process.

Marjarasana/Bitilasana (Cat/Cow Pose)

It is possible to perform this typical series of postures while kneeling on the floor or sitting in a chair, and it is a simple approach to transfer energy and lymph throughout the body.

  1. The kneeling variant requires you to pad your knees with a folded towel or blanket and pull your knees under your hips while keeping your hands just in front of your shoulders. If the wrists are bothering you, try pressing your fists into the floor with your thumbs facing forward. Cat Pose is performed from a neutral spinal posture by exhaling and drawing your belly button in, rounding your back, and releasing your head to look at your legs. Take a few deep breaths and notice how your spinal muscles are being stretched, as well as how your organs are being gently compressed. The Cow Pose is achieved by exhaling while lifting your heart and lengthening your pubic bone away from your navel, while maintaining a neutral spine and avoiding overarching your neck
  2. This is the position (shown). Maintain this position for a few breaths, focusing on the even extension of the spine
  3. Begin to move in sync with your breath, exhaling into Cat Pose and inhaling into Cow Pose, and then relaxing into center for a few seconds of relaxation. For the sitting variant, inhale into Cow Pose and lay your hands on your hips. Draw your tailbone and shoulder blades back, extend your abdomen forward, and elevate your heart with your eyes toward the ceiling
  4. For the standing variation, inhale into Cow Pose and place your hands on your hips. Pull your belly in and round your entire spine as you exhale into Cat Pose. As you exhale, extend out your hands to cup your knees
  5. On the inhale, draw your belly in and round your entire spine as you exhale into Cat Pose.

5 rounds of movement and breathing should be completed at this point. Between each round of flowing movement, take several deep breaths and then repeat the process.

Balasana to Utthita Virasana (Child’s Pose to Extended Hero’s Pose)

Extending the spinal column from Child’s Pose (Balasana) to an expanded spinal posture mobilizes prana (vital energy) in the body and can assist in the activation of stagnant lymph.

  1. Begin in an all-fours posture, and as you exhale, bring your hips back toward your heels, bringing you into a crouching position, also known as Child’s Pose. Only move back as far as your knees will allow you to comfortably
  2. Otherwise, stop. As you take a deep breath, elevate your head and chest while pressing your hips forward. In the Extended Hero’s Pose, bring your hands close to your heart, lay them on your head, or raise your arms aloft as indicated
  3. Finally, as you exhale, fold forward and place your hands on the floor, or return to Child’s Pose if that seems more comfortable for you. Remove your hands off the ground for a second before returning to Extended Hero’s Pose.

With each breath, perform this flowing movement five times, paying attention to how you alternately stretch and compress the groin, abdomen, and armpits in order to promote lymphatic flow.

Dirga (Three-Part Breath)

In conventional lymphedema therapy, taking deep breaths helps to stimulate the movement of your diaphragm, which in turn helps to massage the lymph nodes that are positioned deep inside your abdominal cavity. The entire yogic breath, also known as the Three-Part Breath, can be done while sitting in a chair, lying down on the floor, or lying in bed. This pranayama causes me to see the breath as an elevator vehicle travelling up and down an elevator shaft when I am practicing this technique.

  1. As you take a deep breath, you will experience a lifting and buoyant sensation in your torso. You should sense a downward flowing sensation when you exhale. Continue to follow these tiny cues as you move forward. Taking a deep breath in from your pelvic floor all the way up to your navel, and then exhaling all the way back down to your pelvic floor Then take a deep breath in from your pelvic floor all the way up to your lower ribs. Exhale the breath all the way down to your pelvic floor, starting at your ribcage. Afterwards, take a deep breath in through your pelvic floor and into your upper chest, as if your breath were being poured into your torso and filled you from your bottom to your top. Exhale and let your breath to return to your pelvic floor through your nose. For some people, softly touching the upper chest to offer a little input for the breath might be beneficial.

Repeat for a few more rounds of breaths and then stop. Then allow yourself to let go of whatever control you may have over your breathing and relax for a few seconds, taking note of the results. Keep in mind to take a break and relax if you are feeling uneasy or out of breath.

Modified Viparita Karani (Instant Maui Pose)

Elevating the legs promotes lymphatic flow back toward the body and is a simple procedure that may be performed at home. Several experts advise that the legs should be lifted above the heart for at least 30 minutes, three to four times a day, for the most effect (4). It is important to pay attention to how you position your body so that your feet are elevated above your knees, and your knees are elevated above your hips, and your hips are elevated above your heart, in order to ensure that excess fluid travels back toward the torso and can be recirculated into the bloodstream.

A gentle inversion, this position gives a shift in our point of view, as well as opportunities for more in-depth breathing, energy absorption, and relaxation. Make use of a supportive piece of furniture in your house, such as a soft chair, couch seat, or ottoman, to help you through this.

  1. Recline in front of your furniture support and place your feet on the edge of the seat
  2. This will help you relax. Lift your pelvis and lay a block, cushion, or folded blanket beneath your hips to relieve the pressure on your lower back. The prop should be placed between the waistband of your jeans and the base of your tailbone for maximum effect. The position will not be comfortable if it is too high or too low, so locate the sweet spot where your sacrum is parallel to the floor. With the palms of your hands facing up, position your arms slightly away from your sides: If the hips are lifted, it is preferable not to utilize a pillow for the head during the procedure. It is recommended that you remove the support from under your pelvis and rest with your pelvis flat on the floor if you have unmedicated high blood pressure, nausea, or if this posture causes you to feel dizzy or uncomfortable.
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Rest for 15 to 30 minutes in this position. If you are afraid that you could fall asleep while reading, feel free to set a timer. Despite the fact that lymphedema may be an unpleasant side effect of cancer therapy, these easy yoga practices can help to strengthen immunity, reduce stress, enhance lymphatic drainage, and allow the body to establish a more harmonious state of equilibrium. Namaste and good luck with your practice.

Here’s another article from Cheryl Fenner Brown’s series on Yoga for Cancer-Cancer and Insomnia: A Short, Relaxing Sequence to Put You on the Path to Sleep.

Cheryl Fenner Brown, C-IAYT, ERYT 500, is a cancer patient advocate who works with persons over the age of 50 in central North Carolina. Her 700-hour Hatha training at Piedmont Yoga Studio and 1000-hour Integrative Yoga Therapy training inspire her unique synthesis of alignment principles with subtle energy work, sound, mudra, and yoga nidra. She also has a 500-hour Hatha training at Piedmont Yoga Studio. She teaches courses, individual sessions, and self-care retreats, and she also likes teaching instructors through a 100-hour Adaptive Yoga Mentorship program.

As a result of her research, she designed a 50-hour Healing Yoga for Cancer teacher training program that is now available nationally; for more information, see

“Lymphedema,” Mayo Clinic, accessed April 19, 2019.

H., “Edema (swelling) (Beyond the Basics),” UpToDate, 2019, Zuther, J., “Yoga for Lymphedema,” Lymphedema Blog, (2017), Zuther, J., “Yoga for Lymphedema,” Lymphedema Blog,

Yoga for Lymphedema « Lymphedema Blog

A new study done by Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance, titled “Yoga in America 2016,” suggests that the number of yoga practitioners in the United States has climbed to more than 36 million, an increase from 20.4 million in 2012. With more than 5000 years of old Indian writings and traditions to draw on, yoga is continuing to gain popularity in the United States of America. Apart from that, nine out of ten Americans are familiar with the concept of yoga, one in every three Americans has tried yoga at least once, and more than 15 percent of Americans have performed yoga in the previous six months.

  1. This condition is characterized by an abnormal buildup of protein and water in the tissue, which is produced by the lymphatic system’s failure to fulfill one of its most fundamental jobs, which is the evacuation of water and protein from tissues in a specific area of one’s body.
  2. When lymphatic fluid builds up in the body, it leads in abnormal edema, which most usually affects the upper and lower extremities.
  3. The lymphatic system is comprised of lymph veins and lymph nodes (as well as other structures) that are distributed throughout the human body.
  4. It is through these channels that fluid is transported to the lymph nodes, where waste products and foreign elements are removed from the fluid.
  5. Swelling can only be reduced by rerouting lymph flow – which contains extra protein and water molecules – around the blocked area(s) and into more centrally located healthy lymph arteries.
  6. These treatments are all integral components of complete decongestive therapy (CDT), which is internationally recognized as the “gold standard” treatment system for treating the vast majority of lymphedema patients.
  7. The end of phase one is reached when the measures obtained by the therapist begin to approach a plateau in their range of values.
  8. Lymphedema is a chronic ailment for which there is presently no treatment; as a result, the affected patient must manage the condition for the remainder of his or her life.
  9. Several studies have demonstrated that a well-executed self-management program can help patients maintain and improve the therapeutic outcomes attained during the intense phase of their therapy.
  10. One of the most significant aspects of lymphedema self-management is the identification of alternative conveniently accessible activities that are useful and may be undertaken by the patient on his or her own.
  11. The practice of yoga may be readily tailored to a person’s specific health state as well as their talents and limits; as a result, it may be preferred over more intense forms of exercise for certain people.

In deep abdominal breathing, the downward and upward movement of the diaphragm is a necessary component for the adequate return of lymphatic fluid to the bloodstream; movement of the diaphragm, combined with the outward and inward movements of the abdomen, rib cage, and lower back, also promotes general well-being and relaxation, as well as the peristalsis and return of venous blood to the heart.

Resting and paying attention to the breath in between yoga positions allows the body to recover from the previous stance and prepare for the next pose without straining the joints and muscles.

The degree of intensity changes depending on the type of yoga practiced – in other words, the amount of intensity of a workout is determined by the style of yoga practiced.

More advanced poses, as well as the majority of inverted poses, should be avoided at all costs – including headstand (which places too much weight on the arms and neck), shoulder stand (which places too much weight and pressure on the neck and shoulders), and downward facing dog (which places too much weight and pressure on the neck and shoulders) (too much weight on the arms).

Yoga that is more mild in nature, along with breathing exercises, is unquestionably the better choice. The following are some examples of diverse yoga forms:

  • Hatha: This kind of yoga is the most commonly connected with it and is also one of the most popular forms
  • It includes a sequence of most of the fundamental movements (Asanas) of yoga with an emphasis on breath-controlled exercises and is one of the most widely practiced styles (Pranayama). A sequence of yoga postures are then performed, which are often held for a longer amount of time than in other yoga variants, before concluding with a period of rest. It is possible that the customary positions will need to be modified to accommodate the individual’s capabilities. Patients participating in a class setting should ask the teacher to adjust the position if required
  • Patients practicing on their own with a book or DVD may try entering the pose only halfway or skipping it entirely. Simple lateral and twisting poses, as well as fundamental forward and backward bending postures, are the positions that are most advised for lymphedema yoga practitioners to practice. There are several distinct types of Hatha yoga taught in most yoga classes taught in the Western world. To learn more about Iyengar, visit their website. It is a highly precise type of yoga, with a great deal of care dedicated to establishing the appropriate alignment in a position. Poses are held for substantially longer periods of time in an Iyengar class than they are in other kinds of yoga. The use of props, such as blocks, belts, bolsters, chairs, and blankets, to support the body in moving into appropriate alignment and accommodating any limitations, injuries, tension, or structural imbalances the participant may have is typical of this kind of yoga. Vinyasa: This is another highly popular kind of yoga practice that involves syncing the breath with a continuous execution of a sequence of postures that flow easily into one another. It is also referred to as “flowing yoga.” Known for their flowing, movement-intensive practices, vinyasa sessions are popular among yoga enthusiasts. Vinyasa instructors set up their sessions such that students may transition effortlessly from one posture to the next. They also frequently play music to keep the class moving. The intensity of the practice is comparable to that of Ashtanga yoga. A more strenuous and physically demanding version on the yoga practice, Ashtanga involves a sequence of postures that are all related to the breath and are performed in a prescribed – often fast-paced – order. Ashtanga yoga is similar to Vinyasa yoga in that each style connects every exercise to a certain breathing pattern. The distinction is that Ashtanga always does the exact same postures in the exact same order
  • In contrast, Hatha Yoga does not necessarily do so. Yoga with a lot of power: A quicker, higher-intensity practice that is more fitness-based in nature is preferred. This version of yoga, in addition to the other advantages of yoga, strengthens the muscles and develops stamina, but it is physically taxing. In addition to being known as “hot yoga,” this style of exercise consists of a patented set of 26 hard postures performed in a room heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) with a humidity of 40%. The sequencing of a Bikram class is always the same, and courses are held over the course of 90 minutes. This type of yoga is extremely difficult to do, both physically and psychologically.
  • Asanas (yogic postures) are combined into a sequence of breath-controlled exercises, which are the most commonly associated with Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga is one of the most popular types and incorporates the majority of the basic yoga postures (Asanas) (Pranayama). A sequence of yoga postures are then performed, which are often held for a longer amount of time than in other yoga variants, before concluding with a period of relaxation. Individuals’ strengths and limitations may need modifications to classic stances. In a class setting, patients should ask the teacher to adjust the posture if it is necessary
  • Patients practicing on their own with a book or DVD may try entering the pose only halfway or skipping it entirely if it is not comfortable. Simple lateral and twisting poses, as well as fundamental forward and backward bending postures, are the poses that are most advised for lymphedema yoga practitioners to try. Almost all types of yoga classes taught in the Western world are variants on the Hatha yoga practice. To learn more about Iyengar, visit their website. It is a highly precise type of yoga, with a great deal of emphasis placed on obtaining the perfect alignment in a position. As opposed to other styles of yoga, positions in an Iyengar class are held for substantially longer periods of time. Yoga props, such as blocks, belts, bolster-style chairs, and blanket-style blankets, are common in this kind of yoga to support the body in moving into appropriate alignment and accommodating any limitations, injuries, tension or structural imbalances the participant may have
  • As well as being a widely popular yoga practice method, vinyasa includes syncing the breath with a continuous performance of a sequence of postures that flow seamlessly into one another. It is also a type of dance. Known for its flowing, movement-intensive techniques, vinyasa sessions are popular among fitness enthusiasts. In order for students to move easily from posture to pose, vinyasa instructors plan their lessons so that music is played throughout the class. The practice has a similar intensity to Ashtanga yoga. When it comes to physical demands, Ashtanga yoga is the most strenuous. It is performed in a sequence of postures that are all related to the breath, and it is often done at an accelerated tempo. Because each type of yoga connects every exercise to the breath, Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga are comparable in that way. Essentially, the only distinction between Ashtanga and other styles of yoga is that Ashtanga always does the same postures in the same order
  • Strengthen your body and mind with yoga. A more fitness-based exercise that is speedier and higher-intensity. This variant of yoga, in addition to the other advantages of yoga, strengthens the muscles and promotes stamina, but it is physically demanding
  • In addition to being known as “hot yoga,” this style of exercise consists of a patented set of 26 hard postures performed in a room heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius), with a humidity of 40%. The sequencing of a Bikram class is always the same, and classes are held for 90 minutes each time. Both physically and intellectually, this kind of yoga is extremely demanding.
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When performing any activity, the common admonition “don’t strain” is critical for individuals concerned with the objective of preventing the beginning of lymphedema and for people suffering from the condition. Enhanced lymph flow through postures and breathing, stress and pain reduction, increased flexibility and strength, improved balance and overall well-being should be the primary goals of individuals considering the practice of yoga. Hatha, Iyengar, and mild versions of Vinyasa yoga are clearly the most suited types of yoga for lymphedema patients, as evidenced by the findings of this study.

They are still physically demanding, but they are not overly demanding.

Lymphedema patients should always wear their compression garments or bandages during yoga movements in order to promote and enhance lymphatic and venous return, according to the American Lung Association.

Yoga positions that are beneficial for lymphedema include: By clicking on this link, you will be able to read instructions and photographs of the first three postures on a separate webpage): Legs elevated against the wall: Laying on your back on the floor and lifting your legs up against a wall is how you conduct this exercise.

  • Raise both of your legs up the wall while lowering your upper body to the floor.
  • The half-standing forward bend: While standing with your feet hip width apart, bend your body forward to a horizontal posture while extending your arms out in front of you with your hands.
  • Hand movements that are simple: It is possible to practice this exercise while sitting in a chair or cross-legged on the floor.
  • While exhaling, the arms are dropped (or stretched behind the head) to the sides.
  • Videos: There are several yoga routines available on many platforms, such as YouTube; however, keep in mind that the positions displayed may need to be modified to fit your specific needs.
  • Arm workouts while seated on a chair Standing yoga poses that are good for the whole body This article is also available in PDF format by clicking here.
  • It takes a significant amount of effort and study to provide you the most up-to-date information possible on our website.
  • Any cash remaining after expenses are paid out will be donated to charitable organizations that support lymphedema/lipedema patients.
  • Do you require further information on any other aspects of lymphedema?
  • You may also use the “Select Category” window on the right side of this page to narrow down your search results to a certain topic of interest.
  • If you click on any of the article headlines, the complete story will load and be available for you to read.

Join Lymphedema Guru, a Facebook page dedicated completely to informing about all things relating to lymphedema – news, support groups, treatment centers, and much more – and to spreading the word about it. References:

Further Reading:

Yoga for Lymphedema

  • Further Reading:

Yoga Moves for Lymphies

These positions were adapted from “Yoga for Lymphedema,” which may be found on

  • Pose with your legs up against the wall. Bring the right side of your body as near to a wall as possible while sitting. Raise both of your legs up the wall while lowering your upper body to the floor. Lift your buttocks a few inches off the floor and tuck a blanket or bolster under your tailbone to support your back. Take five minutes to unwind here. Repeat on a daily basis
  • Half-standing forward bend with a little sway. If you’re standing, bend your knees slightly and rest your hands on a chair or a wall to support yourself. Instead of forcing your knees back, slowly attempt to straighten your legs by raising your tailbone up towards the sky, rather than pressing them back. The intensity and benefits of the position will increase as a result of this modification. This posture, which is performed as a half-standing forward bend, will help to minimize swelling
  • It is known as the Modified Cat Pose. This position will help to lessen the likelihood of edema in the arms. Come to your hands and knees, preferably with a chair nearby. Place one arm up on the chair and circle the back by tucking the tailbone in a little bit further. Then, by tilting the tailbone in the opposite direction, do the opposite. Repeat the exercise a few times, then swap arms and start over.

Yoga classes or DVDs may be purchased that can be used at home; however, keep in mind that you may need to modify some of the postures in order to do them comfortably. Don’t be scared to ask your yoga instructor how to alter the poses to make them more comfortable for you. Make sure you listen to your body and don’t push it any farther than it is comfortable. Have you ever tried yoga as a kind of treatment? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the space below. Salutations, lymphatics!

How Yoga Can Help with Lymphedema

Yoga classes or DVDs may be purchased that can be used at home; however, keep in mind that you may need to modify some of the postures in order to do them comfortably. – Don’t be hesitant to consult with your yoga instructor about how to adapt the postures to suit your specific needs. Make sure you listen to your body and don’t push it beyond what is comfortable for you. Is yoga a treatment that you’ve tried in the past? Leave a comment below to tell us about your own personal experiences. Lymphatics, please accept my heartfelt greeting.

Lymphatic Yoga to Treat Lipedema

Migraines, migraines, and brain fog are frequent symptoms of lipedema, and they can be quite painful. Unfortunately, there is no recognized treatment for migraines or headaches, as well as for lipedema or other forms of swelling. Neck tension can result in sluggish fluid movement, which can result in headaches and migraines as a result of the condition. Neck movement and appropriate breathing can help to eliminate brain stagnation/fog, as well as fluids that have accumulated in the lymphatic system, through the lymphatic system.

It cleanses, nourishes, and protects the body by acting as a defensive mechanism.

This fluid is mostly circulated throughout the body by muscle activity and respiration, which is why lymphatic yoga, with its movements and breathing, may effectively transport lymph fluid.

Lymphatic Yoga has been shown to be a beneficial aid in the management of lipedema.

Inversion Postures

Gravity may be reversed by flipping your body, which will aid in this process.

Some of these postures are the plow position (Halasana), the shoulder stand (Sarvangasana), and the headstand (Anuradha Constrictor) (Sirsasana).


Twisting positions can be performed while sitting in a chair or while lying down on the floor. They contain basic twists as well as more sophisticated positions. As a stress-relieving technique, twists have been demonstrated to activate energy in the body and spine, as well as to have a good effect on the internal organs.


Backbends, like inversions, have the ability to counteract the effects of gravity on the body. They will also help to expand the front of the body by stretching the spine and opening the chest. Additionally, in addition to increasing spinal flexibility, these postures can stimulate the abdominal organs and expand the lungs and heart; they will also alleviate the tension and weariness that are linked with lymphatic congestion as a result of lymphatic congestion. There are a variety of backbend positions to choose from, ranging from beginner to intermediate.


Backbends, like inversions, have the ability to counteract the negative effects of gravity on the body. They will also help to expand the front of the body by stretching the spine. Additionally, in addition to increasing spinal flexibility, these postures can stimulate the abdominal organs and expand the lungs and heart; they will help alleviate the tension and weariness that are linked with lymphatic congestion. Beginning backbends are followed by more advanced backbend positions.

Deep Breathing

The lymphatic system varies from the blood circulatory system in that it does not contain a “pump” to circulate lymphatic fluids back into the bloodstream as does the blood circulatory system. As a result, adequate joint and muscle activity are required for optimal lymph flow. In particular, when the lymphatic system is impaired, this is the case. Individuals who are suffering from lipedema might get significant benefits by doing diaphragmatic breathing techniques on a regular basis. These movements are particularly useful when performed in conjunction with other components of a decongestive routine.

In fact, deep, full exhales may be one of the most significant things you can take to help your lymphatic system function better.

When lymphatic fluid from the lower extremities flows more rapidly through the lymphatic systems deep in the body, it can aid in the drainage of lymphatic fluid from the lower extremities that are afflicted by lipedema.

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Easy Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing is simple to practice, and you will most likely discover that it helps to promote a general sensation of calm in your body. Assume a flat, back-to-back position on a level surface, with your head supported upward and your legs bent. In order to provide additional support, you can lay a cushion beneath your legs if you choose. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly; this will allow you to feel the movement of your diaphragm when you breathe in. Continue to gently inhale slowly through your nose until you can feel your tummy rising out against the palm of your hands.

Allow the abdominal muscles to contract inward as you exhale.

Allowing the exhaled air to travel through pursed lips might help to highlight the exhaling process.

If you do not suffer any discomfort or dizziness while performing these exercises, you can gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing them.

DEEP breathing exercises are only one component of a comprehensive treatment program for lipedema that can help minimize the symptoms of the condition. More information may be found on ourexercisepage.

What are the Stages of Lipedema?

Lipedema progresses via three phases. In stage 1, patients’ skin appears flat and stretched over pearl-sized nodules that appear inside a layer of fat with increased cell size. Stage 2 patients’ skin appears flat and stretched over pearl-sized nodules that appear within a layer of fat with increased cell size. It appears as sunken skin that is covering a layer of fat cells that range in size from pearl to apple-sized masses at stage 2. Stage 3 is characterized by the presence of pearl-sized nodules in conjunction with overly big fat masses, resulting in lobules that extend throughout the legs, hips, and thighs, and occasionally to the chest or upper arms.

Lymphedema & Exercise

Several research studies have discovered that a program of gradually increasing exercise under the supervision of a certified lymphedema therapist — in other words, beginning slowly and gradually increasing intensity over time — does not increase the risk of developing lymphedema. According to the National Lymphedema Network’s Position Statement on Exercise, this is also the recommended method of exercise for people with lymphedema. Some specialists feel that exercise may even be beneficial in the rehabilitation of the arm, allowing it to better tolerate the demands of daily life that might lead to lymphedema in the first place.

For example, let’s imagine you suffer heart muscle injury as a result of a cardiac arrest.

However, the more you exercise and strengthen the rest of your heart, the less likely it is that you will have another problem in the future.

In my opinion, there is no reason why a lady who has had her lymphatic system damaged should be forced to spend the rest of her life avoiding anything that puts too much stress on her arm.” Instead, she can follow the advice of cardiac rehab and gradually raise the amount of stress her arm can withstand through weight training or other types of exercise.

  • This does not imply that she should disregard any safety precautions; she must still be cautious in how she employs her arm.” A study led by Dr.
  • Participants in the research included 154 women who were at risk for breast cancer-related lymphedema.
  • A significant difference was observed among women who had five or more lymph nodes removed: only 7 percent of those who participated in the intervention group developed lymphedema, compared to 22 percent of those who did not participate in the intervention group.
  • Women who participated in weight training were shown to be at no greater risk of developing arm edema than the control group.
  • To evaluate if weight-training and other types of exercise can help lower the risk of lymphedema and flare-ups, more study is needed.
  • In between the muscle and the skin, there are lymphatic vessels.” The muscle contracts and relaxes against the skin as a result of physical exercise.

Consequently, by pumping and releasing, the exercise massages the lymph vessels and helps to get excess lymphatic fluid out of the body,” explains Linda T. Miller, PT, DPT, CLT, clinical director of the Breast Cancer Physical Therapy Center, Ltd., in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

Designing an exercise plan

Most people who are at risk of or have been diagnosed with lymphedema follow an exercise regimen that includes some combination of the following:

  • Exercises for flexibility and stretching
  • Strength training
  • Aerobic activity that works the upper body, which aids in weight reduction and encourages deep breathing, which in turn aids lymphatic movement

According to Nicole Stout, a lymphedema expert, “this is completely different from simply getting out and joining a gym or starting to run the same 3 or 4 kilometers you used to do previously.” It might be difficult to distinguish the difference between exercising and straining a limb when you are exercising without supervision.” ‘Start low, move slow, and pay attention to the limb,’ I usually encourage ladies.

Exercise is necessary, but it must be done with caution and under the supervision of someone who is familiar with your circumstances.” The following suggestions may be useful as you develop an exercise program that is appropriate for your needs:

  • If at all feasible, seek the assistance of a physical medicine doctor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nurse, massage therapist, or other specialist who specializes in lymphedema care and breast cancer recovery. Look for someone who has had specialized training and experience in this field
  • SeeFinding a Lymphedema Therapist for more information. Injuries caused by working with a fitness trainer or therapist who is not trained or experienced in issues particular to breast cancer patients might result, increasing the risk of lymphedema. It is possible to workout on your own after working with a professional to learn how to do it effectively. Your fitness plan should be tailored to match your specific demands and fitness level. Just as there is no “one size fits all” strategy to breast cancer therapy, there is no “one size fits all” approach to physical activity. Every person’s physique is unique in its own way. Strength training with modest weights is beneficial for many women, but it may be too uncomfortable or difficult on the arm for some of them to tolerate. Alternatively, alternative types of milder exercise may be advised in similar circumstances. Also, if you’re receiving chemotherapy or taking other treatments that have adverse effects, you may not have the stamina to exercise at times. Start gently and cautiously, take regular pauses, and use your arm as a guide as you go. Your lymphedema therapist can assist you in developing a realistic strategy for returning to physical activity. If you were physically active before surgery — for example, lifting weights, jogging, or bicycling — you’ll want to gradually increase your degree of exercise until you reach your prior level. At first, your therapist may prescribe that you lift lower weights, walk shorter distances, or use an exercise bike to cycle shorter distances. If your arm feels heavy, achy, or fatigued, you should take a break. Your therapist can demonstrate exercises that you can practice during these times, as well as on a regular basis, to keep the lymphatic system functioning. It is recommended that you start even more gently after surgery if you were only moderately active or did not exercise at all before the procedure. Pay close attention to how your arm responds. The beginning of a fitness program should include low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or tai chi. Keep an eye on your arm, hand, and upper body before and after activity to see if there is any change in size, shape, tissue, texture, discomfort, weight, or hardness in any of these areas. All of these changes might be a signal that you need to loosen up on a specific hobby or take a break altogether. If a change lasts for longer than a few days, consult with your doctor or therapist for advice. Keep in mind that workouts for your lower body and core (abdominals, back, and pelvis) might have an impact on your upper body. Strength training for the upper body is well known
  • However, many people are unaware of the dangers of core and lower body exercises, according to Cathy Bryan, M.Ed., an American College of Sports Medicine and American Cancer Society Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer. “The effect of strength training for the upper body is fairly obvious
  • However, some people may forget that the risk is also there for core and lower body exercises,” she says. “For example, two important factors to consider are placing the weights into plate-loaded equipment (such as a leg press) and grasping the grips of the leg exercise too strongly” (such as leg extension). The position of our arms and wrists when executing core exercises, as well as whether or not we are bearing weight throughout the activity, must always be taken into consideration. Again, a full-body workout that is both safe and effective is typically a fairly realistic aim. This is another another incentive to seek the assistance of a certified personal trainer to assist you in designing and implementing your exercise program.” You should be aware that not all cancer survivors’ fitness regimens will satisfy your needs, and some may even be dangerous. Many fitness clubs, gyms, and hospitals provide cancer survivors exercise regimens that are tailored to their needs. Check out any program you’re contemplating in advance, or have your therapist look it over for you. Although it may be marketed as “cancer rehabilitation,” it may not adequately address the needs of people at risk for lymphedema. If you do not have access to a doctor or therapist who is knowledgeable about lymphedema due to a lack of availability or cost, ask another physical therapist, or other health care provider, to consult with you about your options. Discuss your lymphedema worries with this individual, as well as your intentions to exercise with them. He or she may be eligible to obtain the strength training plan that was utilized in the Physical Activity and Lymphedema Trial since he or she is a medical practitioner. The DVD “StrengthCourage: Exercises for Breast Cancer Survivors” is another useful resource. It is a regimen of low-impact exercises devised by a breast cancer survivor and health fitness consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

You may also wish to look at the National Lymphedema Network’s Position Statement on Exercise for further information.

Expert Quote

“We used to teach ladies that they should never lift anything heavier than 5 pounds or 10 pounds for the rest of their lives. The opposite is completely correct. Women should be utilizing their arms and exercising, but they should do it in a safe and sensible manner. When people exercise, they run the risk of injuring themselves or straining a limb. “No, you can’t do that,” I’ve never told a patient who wants to try yoga for the first time, get back on the golf course, go rock climbing, or even get back into powerlifting.

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