An unprecedented, and very last minute, move from New York City to sunny California ushered in beautiful years of picturesque, costal living, the likes I had only dreamed of growing up in a rural town in Wisconsin. Over the years I’ve witnessed a continual slowing down and settling into a more sustainable lifestyle, one that many of my New Yorker friends have subsequently moved here to adopt. Not surprisingly, I’ve also simultaneously watched my wardrobe shift from black and buttoned up, to slightly less black with an expansive collection of dresses, and a lot more swimwear.
I’ve been a devout fan of Marysia’s line since I moved to Los Angeles, so I was thrilled when she was referred to me as a client at my studio for a Lymphatic Massage. I’ve always appreciated her ability to create composed, timeless pieces that both flatter the body and standout with her signature scallop detailing. Connecting with Marysia personally, I’ve grown to admire her innate ability to balance her feminine strength as a business owner, with her love for her family and devotion to her own forms of beauty and wellness ritual.
I was deeply flattered to come on as a contributor to her blog and share some knowledge about the lymphatic system, and extremely excited to don some of her new pieces from a breathtaking collection.
With each wave of wellness and beauty trends, we are constantly lured with new, exciting rituals. For myself and my practice, I constantly seek to unite traditions of the past with advents of the future. In addition to curating quality skincare products, stimulation of the lymphatic system, a practice often overlooked, forms the basis of supreme skincare routine for both your face and your body.
Historically, stimulating the lymphatic system is universal and prevalent, from the ancient practices of the greek and roman bath houses, to Egyptian massage rituals, to Korean skin scrubbing and communal spas, human beings have innately understood stimulating this system is vital, and beautifying.
How can we understand and integrate stimulation of this magical system in a modern landscape? First, we have to understand what this invisible system is:
Strung along like pearls knotted on a string, the lymphatic system is an intricate net of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels. Within this intricate system, the lymph nodes act as a series of cleaning filters that produce and transport lymphatic fluid (clear or milky with fat) from tissues to the bloodstream. There is twice as much lymph fluid as blood, and twice as many lymph vessels as blood vessels. In conjunction with the colon, the lymphatic system is our body’s main detoxifier.
Our lymphatic system continuously bathes and detoxifies each cell from mutations, viruses, toxins, fats, heavy metal residues, pollutants from the environment, and a variety of stress related hormonal secretions. A healthy lymphatic system prevents fat and waste buildup, fluid retention and increased cellular aging. Additionally, the lymphatic system maximizes your body’s ability to internally absorb vitamins for healthy skin, hair, and nail growth and acts as a vital assist for your respiratory system.
Though this system is seemingly complex, regular stimulation is easy and accessible. Below I’ve included some ways you can incorporate lymphatic stimulation in your daily life.
Awareness of your lymph system is simple yet poignant. Lymphatic blockage encourages the accumulation of increased bloating, swelling, fatty congestion, and prevents essential nutrients and blood from rejuvenating cells. This can result in prominent cellulite, sagging skin, bloating, swelling and fatty deposits resistant to diet and exercise. Bringing awareness to the subtleties of your skin texture, inflammatory reactions to food and drink, energy levels, and changes in your tissue can connect you with this vital system and prompt dietary shifts, rest, stimulation, and exercise that can help to support and detox congestion in the body.
There are many practices proven to cleanse and drain the lymph; adequate body movement (exercise/breathing), proper hydration (to keep cells from becoming thick and static) and physical stimulation in the form of lymphatic massage all employ flow and circulation. For at home stimulation, I recommend dry brushing, foam rolling, skin rolling, or skin massage with your favorite oil or cream. I like to incorporate simple facial and body massage techniques when applying moisturizer or body oil after a shower to invigorate the skin and promote circulation.
The word lymph is derived from the latin word lympha, which means “connected to water.” Our internal lymphatic rivers thrive in a hydrated state. A healthy body filters approximately a half a gallon of lymph per day and requires adequate hydration to flow easily. Like tributaries trickling into a stream that feeds a slow-moving river, the lymph system transports lymph fluid through ever-widening vessels, moving it through 500 filtration and collection points – your lymph nodes. Hydration is key.
Our Autonomic Nervous System, which regulates the body’s unconscious actions, functions in two divisions; the Sympathetic nervous system and the Parasympathetic nervous system. Our sympathetic state, activated when we are engaged throughout the day, is responsible for stimulating activities associated with the fight-or-flight response, whereas the Parasympathetic state allows us to rest, sleep and renew our cells. The lymphatic system, among other functions such as digestion, sexual arousal, and sleep, activate in a parasympathetic state. Most of my clients are caught in a perpetual sympathetic state, without adequate time to rest and rejuvenate. Making time for rest is vital and enjoyable. It’s important to value and prioritize time spent in a parasympathetic state, particularly if most of your time is spent in activity. It’s also an effortless way, literally, to support your lymphatic system.
5. Balanced Exercise
Exercise is important yes, but exercising too much can add more stress to the nervous system and subsequently your lymphatic system. If you overload your body with too much exercise and stimulation without proper rest and relaxation, your body won’t have enough time to recover and rejuvenate. It’s important to remember that not all exercise needs to be high intensity. If you’ve had a stressful week, perhaps you don’t need stressful exercise – instead take a leisurely hike or walk, not to go somewhere, but merely for the enjoyment and simple movement of the body. Trade out a high intensity workout with an epsom salt bath or deep tissue massage.