Yoga for Grief Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 6

Lymphatic Flow

15 min - Practice


Michelle guides us in a practice of self-massage and abhyanga to help move the lymphatic fluid in the body. You will feel a release of tension.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video


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We'll start this practice in a seat. You could sit on the floor or in a chair works too. Begin by just loosening up the shoulders, loosening the spine and neck, just coming into some big joint movement, maybe again with the fingers and wrists. And then we'll sensitize the hands. So rub the hands together. This can be briskly or slower depending on what feels right to you. And then just let the hands rest up, palms up for a moment, and notice the tingling or other sensations in the palms and the fingertips. We're going to be using the fingers and hands on the face for some facial massage. I know this might be kind of wacky, but come with me. Let's see how it goes. We'll take the fingers, fingertips curled in and meeting at the center of the forehead. And then with a gentle pressure sweep all of the fingers out toward the temples like you're spreading the forehead. Come back, fingers together, center of forehead, and then spread out to the temples again. Do that a couple of times. You can vary the pressure so that it's a little bit more of a like a muscular spread, release, or you can keep it lighter, real surface on the skin. A little press at the temples can feel good. One more. Fine, and then flick the fingers off. Okay, two piece fingers on either hand starting at the inner eyebrows. You'll circle up and around the crescent of the eyebrows and then down along the eye socket back to the center of the eye. Circling all around the eye socket, inner eye back up across the eyebrows. Really light here. So this is the lymphatic massage and your lymph is a very light clear liquid. The next time you do that, give a little press at the bridge of the nose, inner eyes, sweep out across the eyebrows to the temples and give another little press. All right, flick the fingers again. So same two piece fingers. Now we're gonna come just to the sides of the nostrils with the middle fingers and then the index finger just outside of that. And give a little press in and up. So you might feel a little divot, it might be tender here. This is a spot for the sinuses. And then come out underneath the cheekbone and again press a little bit in and a little bit up and keep going underneath the cheekbone all the way out toward the ear with that gentle pressure in and up until you get just in front of the ear. And then come back and start again at that sinus divot just to the side of the nostrils. In and up, in and up. You might find that it's a little tender. One more time you might find a place where you want to pause and do little miniature circles because it feels good or there's the potential for release. In and up, in and up. Oh and then shake the hands out again. Okay, making, I call this Mork and Mindy but I think it's also a Star Trek thing. Pinkies and ring fingers together, middle and pointer fingers together. And you're gonna use the space in between for your ears. So your ear slips in between the V and then massage up and down the outer and the inner ears. And your fingers are curling in, your fingertips curl just a little bit to make that massage. Up and down, go slow if you like. You can even curl with the back fingers, curl the ear forward to close the ear or use the front fingers to sweep over the ear canal that can feel really good too. So we're moving this lymphatic fluid which is part of your immune system. And the lymph, lymphatic system doesn't have its own pump like the heart. Sweep this all the way down the sides of the neck now, under the jaw, across the lymph nodes, all the way down the neck. Last thing, you'll use all of your fingertips right underneath the jaw line. And then you can kind of like crawl, walk the fingers up and lift all of that tissue, all of that skin and fluid up. Up, come under the jaw, lift it up and then sweep it back, sweep it back. So this is a little bit of a lift and a sweep. And then we'll just sweep the whole face like we did in the first video, sweeping the whole face really lightly, really gently across the ears, across the jaw, and then down the neck. So this is a great way to move the lymphatic fluid. Again, it doesn't have its own pump like the circulatory system has the heart, so it doesn't move or flow on its own unless we move it with movement or touch. So let the hands rest now. You might close your eyes and just notice the sensations in your face. Okay, so from the face massage and the neck drain, we're gonna come and just give a little bit of love to the lungs with some gentle tapping. And you can make a soft fist and use the heel of your hand or an open hand is fine. And you'll just come over opposite hand to opposite lung and just give some little taps all around the upper chest. You can lift an arm. We actually have a lot of like lung real estate under the arm, so if you can get under there, that's good. Or even over the shoulder, little pats on the back. So the lungs are one of our centralized places of life force or vital life energy. Come on over to the other lungs, see how that feels. And this is just a way to give a little wake up, a little love pat to these carriers and containers of all that life force. The lungs are also in some systems come under the arm or over the back if that feels good. In some systems, the lungs are related to grief. And so this is just another way for us to love on ourselves. A couple more pats, you could even do a little bit of a Tarzan if that feels good. Make sounds and notice what this does to your breath. And then again, release the arms. Maybe close your eyes and check in. How does how does this feel? What are the echoes? Okay, our next practice and any of these can be a standalone practice for you to incorporate in your day or your morning routine. Our next practice is called Abhyanga, which is an Ayurvedic practice of typically oiling the body. And its purpose is for circulation and nervous system regulation. I like to do an over the close version. So that's what we're going to do. But know that you could do this with warm oil on your skin before or after a shower. So let's start with the right leg forward. And we're just using our hands really light again so we're affecting the lymph. We're just going to start rubbing. If you can actually engineer a way to get your foot available hanging over maybe the other leg. And you'll take your two hands and just start rubbing the foot. Circulating, getting some movement, giving some love, some care. And one of the principles in Abhyanga is that long parts of the body get long strokes and round parts like your heel gets a round stroke. So a couple times on the foot and then you can put your foot back down and we'll do that up the lower leg. So long strokes. The other main principle is that we always end with a sweep up. Everything aims to the heart. So then we come to the right knee, a round stroke, sides of the knee, underneath the knee, and then we're back to long strokes on the upper leg.

And you can sweep up and down and then remember to end with an upward stroke. Okay so we'll come to the other foot now. I know this is kind of wacky. Start with those long strokes on the foot but it really can have an interesting effect. And you'll see when we're done here you'll get to notice what it's done for you. Round strokes, round circles on the heel and then put the foot down. You can kind of get around the ankle and then those long strokes on the lower leg. And I'm going kind of fast. If I was doing this circles on the on the knee, if I was doing this with the oil and even now you could go slower. So this could be you know a little different kind of feeling, different kind of love. If you're wanting something slower please go at your own pace. And then ending, sometimes I'll even go all the way back down to the foot. And ending with a big upstroke. Okay so now we'll stand up. Okay so once you're up let's continue up the legs. So we didn't quite get the tops of the thighs. We can just do some long strokes there, sides of the legs. And then you got to go to the back and you have round parts right. So round parts on the glutes. And then end all of that on the hips with an up, upstroke. And then on the belly. So digestion has a direction. So as you look down and you have your right hand on the top of your abdomen, above your belly button, you'll go in clockwise circles. Okay so make them big and small so you cover all the surface in big clockwise circles. And then end that with an up. Up up up, up on the sides. As best you can up on the back it's a little hard to get to the back. So sweeping across the lower back, up up up. And then we have more round parts. So round parts on the chest and under the arm. Again just as best you can getting up up. And now we'll come to the hands and the fingers. So starting with one hand use the other hand to massage. Those long strokes on the wrist, a circle, and then forearms. Sweeping long strokes, ending with the up, elbows round, upper arms, and then shoulders round. And then now because we're above the heart we actually have to sweep kind of across the chest and down on that side. We'll do the other arm. Hand, fingers, wrist, forearm.

It's almost like you're putting on your superpower suit or a protective barrier for your day. Upper arm, shoulders, and then now we're gonna sweep over the shoulder and down. Over the shoulder and down. From the neck, down, and from the tops of the shoulders back we think of the the drain of the heart being front and back. So you can actually kind of sweep down from the upper back if that works. And then we could sweep the face again. So you know we've just done this practice of separate lymphatic facial massage but you could sweep the face and even across the hair. Sweeping face and hair and then again coming down all sides of the neck, down to the heart, front and back. And when you feel like you've covered your whole body you might find that there's a place you want to go back to. When you feel like you've got your protective barrier on, you're circulating, stand. Maybe take your feet a little wide. Feel your uprightness and notice your body. Any tingling, any feelings of circulation. What are the sensations? What's it like to be in your skin? Let's just stand in that for a moment. And then because we would typically be doing this maybe before or after the shower or as a practice to get us ready to go out into the day, this is how we'll end. Going forward with your super suit on. Thank you for engaging in something that might be a little weird, a little different for trying something new. See you next time.


Jenny S
4 people like this.
The over-the-clothes abhyanga is genius! When I practice the oil version, it makes me feel so comforted and protected - however, in the bustle of everyday life I find it difficult to do on any sort of regular I can get this in as part of my daily yoga practice and no slippery shower floor 🙌
Michelle Marlahan
Aw, I'm so glad you dug it! And brava for practicing the oil version. Comforted and protected - yes. Now you have this version "on the go" or as a quick check in.  I can even be caught doing it in the car :).  Thanks for the comment! Stay in touch! 
Christel B
3 people like this.
Like a daily cleansing routine.....thanks.
Michelle Marlahan
Christel - Exactly!! Great way to look at it!
Mary B
2 people like this.
What a lovely gift.  I felt peaceful, encouraged, protected and energized (but not stimulated).  So nourishing! Thank you!
Michelle Marlahan
Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm so glad to hear it was grounding in those ways without being stimulating. A practice we can do anywhere, anytime :)
Wishing you well,
Laura M
1 person likes this.
This was so helpful. Thank you!!!
Michelle Marlahan
So glad, Laura M! Thanks for watching and practicing!
Peter Ferber
My mother had a bout of atrial fibrillation, which sent her to the hospital over Christmas.  I was looking through YogaAnytime to find something that would help her, and I have since introduced her to Lymphatic Flow, in this series.  Of course, any time I research something I feel would be good for her, I wind up finding something that is also good for me!  I love this series; your exceptional courage, narrating your own grief; and inviting our ears to live long and prosper. (Yes, that finger arrangement IS consummate Star Trek-ian.) 

Abhyanga is something about which I have long heard is a good thing, but I'd never gotten around to doing.  The practice is powerfully effective, whether full-on, with oil, or clothed.  Both my mother and I give it a sterling thumbs up!  Thank you, ~ Peter Ferber
Michelle Marlahan
So happy to receive your message! What a wonderful story and generous practice to share with your mother. I'm so glad she has (you both have) experienced benefits from it. I love that this was something you "got around to doing" out of support for your mom. Sometimes we need a reason beyond ourselves...and a buddy to share it with. May the force be with you both... (oops, wrong intergalactic group!)  \\//
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