Friday, June 01, 2007

The lymphatic system

There is more lymph fluid in our bodies than there is blood, yet we know so little about this important part of our life support system.

The Lymph fluid surrounds our cells and provides the space for food, and oxygen to pass through to get from the arteries to the cells, and also a place for wastes to go. It doesn't have a pump to move it around like the blood does, lymph fluid relies on muscle contraction ( only some), and the action of the diaphragm ( mainly ) to circulate. The fluid circulates through lymph nodes to be cleaned of waste products, dead cells, and viruses/bacteria, and then, near the neck, it is dropped back into the blood system through a large duct in a vein.

The spleen, which is a shade larger than a kidney, is the big boss of this whole system. Located behind the stomach, under the ribs, and to the left, it's main job is to control the amount of blood cells, waste, and infectious foreign material in the blood. The first line of our body's self defense, the spleen's white blood cells attack and engulf anything that doesn't belong in the blood stream. The spleen is also a storehouse for a good amount of red blood cells in case there is ever a need for a sudden addition of them into the system.

For more detailed information on the lymphatic system.Click here

Deep breathing is one of the essential ways that this fluid circulates... Therefore it is to our benefit to incorporate deep diaphragmic breathing into our day.

Also, there is quite a mental, physical, and spiritual benefit to stopping for a few seconds, relaxing, regrouping, and taking a good 5 deep breaths randomly during the day. First, it will automatically lower our stress level, second, it will help clear our body of waste products so we will feel less tired, and third, it will boost all of our body's systems.

During training, the Kiai action of the diaphragm serves quite an important purpose wherein it will help the lymph fluid to circulate more quickly, and to remove waste products near the hard working muscles. This will allow your muscles to feel less tired, and to work harder, and longer. However, the Kiai action also causes you to tighten your abdomen, and unite your whole body towards the action. Instead of just using your arms and shoulders in a strike, the kiai unites the hips, and legs to the movement. So, on one hand you remove more waste products and circulate the lymph (less tired), but on the other hand you are using more muscles towards each movement (more tired). It's another balanced moment of karate training. Again we see the Yin/Yang of our Art.

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