One of the most important aspects of health is how well we are able to circulate our blood and lymphatic system. The lymph is considered the plasma or clear fluid of the blood. “It is called plasma, but once it oozes into intercellular spaces, it is called lymph.” -Dr. John Douillard
This clear fluid is carried to the various channels called lymph nodes to be purified. Once the lymph or in Ayurvedic terms “Rasa” is purified it then travels back to the heart or spleen to recombine with the blood. The lymphatic system also helps to remove toxins and other impurities from the body through perspiration, bowel movements, urine and your breath. This continuous process of purification and circulation is one of the most important functions of the body.
So what does this have to do with exercise? Unlike our heart, the lymphatic system does not have a pump. There is nothing that automatically circulates the lymph besides your own movements as well as the breath or what we call Prana. Without proper daily movement, meditation and breathing, the lymph can become stagnant which may lead to fatigue, compromised skin, feelings of cold, poor digestion, headaches and even depression.
When we exercise we allow ourselves to release energies, toxins and even negative mental thoughts that tend to “pool” inside the mind. When the body is given a chance to move in a dynamic way that is challenging yet rejuvenating, where we can break a sweat but not exhaust ourselves, the effects are beautiful and healing.
To live consciously means to do everything with intention and attention. Ignoring your body and moving it at the same time can cause injury both internally and externally. Let us approach our exercise just as if we were preparing for meditation or a yoga class. There is a respect, an intention, and an opportunity for positive change.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself:
- When I exercise, am I enjoying myself?
- When I am moving my body do I breathe out of my mouth and rarely out of my nose?
- Do I push myself beyond my body’s capacity to recover?
- Do I continue to push myself physically even though I am on the first 3 days of my menstrual cycle?
There is no right or wrong answer to any one of these questions. We are simply asking ourselves so that we can become aware of how we are truly feeling.
If the answer to question 1 is “no”, it is time to re-evaluate and find an exercise routine that you enjoy. There is no need to dread or drag yourself through a routine that you have no joyful connection with.
For question 2, If you tend to breathe out of your mouth most of the time when you exercise, it is time to pay attention. Switching from mouth breathing to nose breathing is one of the most effective things you can do for yourself. It will not only regulate your heart rate but it will get you out of a “fight or flight” mode and put you into a very blissful feeling. This may take some time to get used to, but try and make your way to breathing just through the nose.
If your answer to number 3 is “yes” then take some time and see where you can slow down and find an easier way to approach your exercise routine. There is no need to push your body beyond its capacity to recover. If your exercise is causing long-term fatigue, joint pain or stiffness it is time to move into something new.
For question 4, this is perhaps the most important in terms of maintaining vitality for the rest of the month. Taking time to rest and rejuvenate while on the first 3 days of the menstrual cycle will serve you the rest of your life. This is a time for a woman to relax and allow her body to cleanse. Give yourself a much-needed break. Light yoga and walking is the best form of exercise while on your menstrual cycle.
Ultimately, we all want to feel happy and comfortable in our skin. Exercise is an important part of a balanced lifestyle and a healthy mind. As you can see from the information given at the start of this blog, movement is key to a healthy body and mind.
There are so many forms of expression just like there are endless forms of exercise. No one routine is going to speak to or match with every single person. Finding what works for you, what brings you joy and what ultimately provides you with the ability to circulate your lymph is going to be the perfect form of movement for you.
I will end this blog with a beautiful takeaway, words from dancer Gabrielle Roth:
“To sweat is to pray, to make an offering of your innermost self. Sweat is holy water, prayer beads, pearls of liquid that release your past, anointing all your parts in a baptism of fire. Sweat burns karma, purifying body and soul.
Sweat is an ancient and universal form of self-healing, whether done in the gym, the sauna, or the sweatlodge. I do it on the dance floor. The more you dance, the more you sweat. The more you sweat, the more you pray. The more you pray, the closer you come to ecstasy.”
—Sweat Your Prayers
Hari Simran Khalsa was born into a family of Kundalini Yogis and has been a student of Yogi Bhajan’s since her early childhood. She has been teaching and practicing Kundalini Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine for over 10 years. Hari’s work incorporates the principles of these powerful, ancient sciences to heal modern health and life issues. Using Ayurvedic medicine and Kundalini Yoga as tools to support self-healing and happiness, Hari believes all people no matter what stage of life they are in can feel their very best both inside and out.
She is currently an Ayurvedic health practitioner, healer and Kundalini yoga teacher living and practicing in Los Angeles, CA. You can contact her at www.harisimranayurveda.com and @hari_simran_ayurveda.
You can also find Hari Simran at 40 Day Rituals by going to 40dayrituals.com