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Demystifying Ayurvedic Dry Brush Massage

Dry Brushing, a traditional Ayurvedic practice, also called garshana (pronounced gar-shun-uh), is traditionally done using raw silk or linen gloves, though many prefer to use a natural bristle body brush. This practice promotes lymphatic cleansing and is a powerful way to support the natural process of detoxification in the body and is recommended especially for people who have signs of ama, which may include lethargy, sluggishness, feeling physical or mental dullness, constipation, and a taxed immune system.

Dry brushing is an excellent practice for the kapha time of year, from late winter into spring or any time when you feel the effects of cooler damper air accumulating in the lymph or the sinuses and creating stagnation throughout the body. According to Ayurveda, the lymphatic system (rasa dhatu) is directly connected to the health and harmony of every other dhatu (tissue layer) in the body. The practice of dry massage is one of the most effective ways to support the proper health and flow of the lymph, which in turn offers immense benefit throughout the body. In addition to supporting lymphatic circulation and natural detoxification, dry brushing is a great way to improve skin’s texture, luminosity, and suppleness.

So how does one practice dry brushing? The main objective is simply to create some movement and stimulation throughout your body. It’s hard to go wrong, but there are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind. Skin brushing is best done in the morning before bathing, with dry skin that is free from lotion or oil. If you have dry skin, practice abhyanga either after dry brushing or at night. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Stand in the bathtub/shower or on a towel to avoid getting flaky skin on the floor.
  2. Using gloves or a brush, massage vigorously to stimulate the skin and lymph.
  3. Keep the direction of the stroke always toward the heart.
  4. Use circular strokes on the joints (shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, hips, and ankles), and long sweeping strokes on the arms and legs (toward the heart).
  5. Massage from the feet upward, continuing to the torso and on to the neck.
  6. Massage from the hands to the shoulders.
  7. Massage the stomach and buttocks in circular clockwise motions.
  8. Apply light pressure where the skin is thin or sensitive and firm pressure on thicker areas like the bottoms of the feet.

This natural detoxification practice gently flushes out toxins without disturbing the body’s balance, and it will help you feel energetic and revitalized.

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