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Dry Brushing | a Ritual to Support your Lymphatic System

Listed under beauty in trendy fashions magazines,  dry-brushing has been gaining quite a bit of notoriety.  While this self-care practice may seem like a new trend, the practice is quite ancient. Commonly known for exfoliating the skin, within the time-tested science of Ayurveda, dry-brushing is well regarded for aiding the body’s detoxification process. The practice is especially helpful in the cold and damp season when we tend to move less. Or all-year round for individuals who tend not to sweat. In both instances, dry-brushing can boost circulation and lymphatic drainage. In turn, supporting our immune system.  

Called garshana in Sanskrit, which literally translates to friction caused by rubbing, this self-care practice is traditionally done using raw silk gloves. However, a natural bristle brush gently skimmed over the skin can also be used to stimulate the lymphatic system. According to Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary’s, an integrative physician and author of The Prime, the practice supports our immune system because the “lymphatics don’t have a pump. When you move them, they move. Without movement, they have no momentum. Manually massaging the skin toward the heart and in the direction of the lymph nodes gets the lymph moving more vigorously, which increases the body’s detoxification rate. Essentially, you are helping to direct the biochemical sewage through the channels and into the lymph nodes, where it can be eliminated.”

While supporting detoxification is a key benefit, the practice is also beneficial in giving us a window into our health.  Through building a relationship with our sensory organ, the skin. Our largest organ, the skin is the last to receive nutrients, yet the first to show signs of imbalance or deficiencies. In Ayurveda, our skin, nails, hair, tongue are windows into our wellbeing. They play a key role in an Ayurveda Counselor, Practitioner or Vadiya’s client evaluation. Because the quality of the skin speaks to the level of hydration, a lack of nutrients, acidity, and imbalances in the liver—to name a few.

Even if correlating the quality of your skin with a particular imbalance may not be your expertise, dry brushing’s value lies in cultivating a relationship with our sensory organ. Regular, active engagement with our skin has the potential to bring earlier attention to changes in our skin’s color, sensitivities, texture, luminosity, and even moles. While also sharpening our sense of touch.  In Ayurveda, the senses are an essential component in maintaining the state of our wellbeing. They are another language or tool for developing greater awareness, guiding our ability to decipher between healthi-ish, healthy and healthier choices. While teaching us to trust in our innate wisdom.

One way to learn if dry brushing is right for you is by trying it out for a couple of weeks. Then take a break for a week. During this time, note any differences you feel on a physical, emotional and mental level. Your learnings will lead you to the answer that’s right for you. A good time to do this is in the cold, damp portion of winter. While assessing,  you will also promote circulation and support immunity in a season when our bodies can use a little assistance in these areas.   

BENEFITS OF DRY BRUSHING

  • Smoother and brighter skin
  • Prevents ingrown hairs and clogged pores
  • Exfoliates the skin
  • Supports the body’s natural detoxification process
  • Sharpen sensory perceptions
  • Helps lymphatic circulation  
  • Overtime reduces cellulite

BEST PRACTICES

  • Ideally, practice dry brushing on skin free of lotion or oil in the morning before bathing
  • Stand in the bathtub, shower or on a towel to avoid getting dead skin flakes on the floor
  • Ensure the room is of comfortable temperature
  • Direct each stroke toward the heart
  • Massage from the feet upward
  • Use long sweeping strokes on the arms and legs (toward the heart)
  • Use circular stroking motion on the stomach and joints– shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists, hips, and ankles
  • Massage from the hands to the shoulders
  • Do not dry-brush your face, chest, and heart
  • Apply light pressure in sensitive areas or where there is thin skin
  • Don’t brush too hard! A soft and smooth stroke often works best.
  • Replace the brush every 6-12 months as the bristles will eventually wear out. I also recommend washing the brush every few weeks to remove dead skin cells.

AVOID DRY BRUSHING IF YOU HAVE:

  • very sensitive skin
  • a skin condition, such as psoriasis or eczema
  • an open wound, skip this area and the surrounding area
  • inflamed skin due to sunburn or an allergy
  • an illness

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. The information is not intended for use in the medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.

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