Lymphatic Series — Keep It Moving Into Spring
Part 3: What To Do With Lymph (Keep It Moving!)
By Andrea Foster
Last week you read that your lymphatic system, a vital component of your circulatory system carrying fluid to the heart, nutrients to the blood, and aiding your immune system, needs muscular movement to activate and do its work. You may have wondered how you can best aid this system for your unique body type and lifestyle.
This is where the doshas and their elements come into play.
In our introduction to the lymphatic system, it’s useful to know exactly how we can support this system. What tools are available? All bodies are different — exactly what stimulates this system in our own bodies?
We have learned that each dosha can certainly get out of balance and then show us clues to indicate it’s out of whack. Let’s take as an example the dosha of kapha.
Healthy kapha presents as calm, stable energy, someone grounded, that earth mama, giver of great hugs. An imbalance of kapha reveals itself in the feelings of lethargy and depression and the physical symptoms of bloating and slow digestion. An excess of kapha can also indicate a sluggish lymphatic system — typically someone who has too much kapha doesn’t feel like doing much and therefore there is little muscular movement to keep the lymph circulating optimally.
The key to utilizing elemental theory to bring balance is to meet an excess of an element with its opposite.
When there’s too much earth and water — mud — the best thing for it is a good cleaning. Cleansing involves movement and lots of it. That’s why a vigorous spring cleaning of your kitchen or bathroom can seem like a workout! The self-care techniques to reduce excess kapha involve vigor, movement, and warmth. The best tools are salt scrubs, dry brushing, and cardio-based exercise, all of which heat the body, drive circulation, and move you out of a “meh” state. And because we know that muscle movement moves the lymph system, we know that these cleansing actions can get an otherwise healthy but sluggish system moving smoothly, too.
Salt scrubs in particular are an effective tool for kapha imbalance with a multitude of benefits. A salt scrub is a quantity of sea salt blended with a carrier oil and possibly enhanced with essential oils to produce a specific result. The salt scrub has the dual effect of being an excellent exfoliator and lymph mover. This is particularly effective in the winter months when drier air can dull skin and the winter blahs can dampen the drive to move.
In a salt scrub, there is typically enough of the carrier oil, such as sesame oil or sunflower oil, to render the salt “damp” and allow it to clump. The recipe for a scrub can be modified depending on the imbalance it’s meeting — a kapha imbalance needs a cleansing effect, so the salt scrub will go lighter on the carrier oil. A drier constitution would benefit from a salt scrub a little heavier on the oil to provide more moisture.
A few drops of strategic essential oils can provide powerful plant medicine. For instance, in the case of that kapha imbalance, essential oils that stimulate, warm, and get the blood moving would be appropriate.
A salt scrub is best used right before a shower. Stand on a damp towel in your tub or shower floor — things can get a little messy and slippery, so it’s easier on cleanup to have everything contained along with the towel to keep your feet stable. Palm an amount of the scrub (explore how much you personally find effective) and then use a circular motion to rub it upon your skin, starting at your feet and working toward your heart. Continue hands to heart. Scrub until the skin turns pink, then move on. Once you’re done, rinse off. The salt is naturally deodorizing, so soap isn’t necessary. Be sure to massage the oil residue into your skin as an added massage and moisturizing treatment. You’ll love how soft your skin feels now.
Vata and Pitta imbalances can also benefit from salt scrubs with their own tailored blend of supportive essential oils. A Vata-targeted blend would add a little grounding, nourishing, and moisturizing. A Pitta-pacifying blend would cool and center. Right now salt scrubs are available at a 15% savings, so this would be the perfect time to stock up or give it a try.
Next week we’ll continue to look at self-care practices and lymph-moving tools, especially those found in our Self Care Sanctuary. Let’s put your dhyana Center membership to work for you!