What is Garshana?
Spring is a time of awakening. As the earth begins to thaw, and bird songs invite us to come outside, the sun’s return inspires us to stretch our limbs. All around, we can feel the buzz of life nudging us from winter hibernation. In the ancient practice of Ayurveda, springtime is known as kapha season because the elements of earth and water are predominant. The rivers begin to flow more swiftly, the earth becomes saturated with water and plants of all kinds begin to pop from its soil. Rebirth is happening all around us.
While springtime brings us many gifts, kapha season can also cause imbalances to the body and mind. As pollen starts to ride the wind’s breeze, allergies and congestion may flare up for many people. Congestion of the skin can lead to excess sebum (oil) production and even breakouts. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or are just feeling a little foggy in the mind or stagnant in the body, it may be time to gently detoxify. Luckily, Ayurveda has some excellent cleansing rituals like neti & nasya, triphala, and one of our newest spring offerings, garshana, which helps to revitalize the body and uplift your senses.
Garshana, (pronounced gar-shun-uh), is an ancient Sanskrit word that translates to ‘friction by rubbing.’ Commonly known as dry brushing, this Ayurvedic practice involves a stimulating lymphatic massage to detoxify the lymphatic system, refresh your skin and revive the mind. It has recently become rather popular to perform garshana using a dry bristle brush; however, a dry brush might be too harsh for those with sensitive skin.
We recommend the traditional method of using 100% raw silk garshana gloves because they are hypoallergenic and a gentler, all-natural exfoliator.
The Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage
You might be thinking, “what is the lymphatic system anyways?” Well, let’s take a closer look...
The lymphatic system transports lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. In doing so, it acts as the drainage system of the body, helping to remove toxins, waste and other unwanted materials which are known as ama in Ayurveda. Unlike the circulatory system which has the heart to initiate movement, the lymphatic system does not move on its own. Therefore, it can become inefficient or "sluggish," an unfortunate side effect of today's modern sedentary lifestyle. To maintain proper function, the lymphatic system needs daily deep breathing, cardio exercise, yoga, and garshana or abhyanga massage.
As you can see, making time in your day for garshana self-care is one of the most beneficial things you can do for detoxification and optimal lymphatic and immune health.
Dry Brushing Benefits
Garshana has a plethora of benefits for your health and beauty:
- Detoxifies the lymphatic system
- Expels ama (toxins)
- Stimulates blood flow
- Increases circulation
- Warms the body
- Improves energy
- Promotes mental alertness
- Exfoliates the skin
- Encourages cellular renewal
- Revives skin tone + texture
- Combats cellulite
*all of these benefits help to balance excess kapha dosha.
Garshana Method: At-Home Dry Brushing Technique
It is best to brush toward the heart to assist the movement of lymph in the body, applying as much pressure as comfortable. Exert more force in areas of fatty tissue & brush gently on sensitive areas.
- Wearing your garshana gloves, begin at the top of the head making small circular motions.
- You may choose to lightly massage the face using small circular motions from the center outward.
- Move to the neck & shoulder areas using long brush strokes.
- Continue to the arms with long strokes, incorporating circular motions at your elbows & wrists.
- Massage the abdominal area in a clockwise motion, the natural path of digestion.
- The lower back & hips/buttocks area can be massaged using the same circular motion.
- Finish the massage with feet & legs, using circular strokes for the knees & ankles and long strokes for the feet & legs.
Tip for easy clean up: Stand on a towel or in the shower to perform garshana as dead skin cells can be sloughed off in the process.
Once finished, complete your dry brushing routine with a shower to rinse off any remaining residue and be sure to apply a PAAVANI Body Oil for radiant, glowing skin!
Dry Brushing The Face
- Lymph drains down along the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM), located at the base of your skull on either side of your neck, behind your ears. (3x)
- Facial sweep up the jawline, drawing up to the ears. (3x)
- Sweep from the upper lip to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). (3x)
- Sweep from the nose bridge to cheeks. (3x)
- Sweep from the 3rd eye to temples. (3x)
- Sweep from the hairline to temples. (3x)
- Forehead friction using fingertips of both hands moving back and forth.
- Cheek friction in a figure 8 motion on the cheeks.
- Nose bridge friction.
- End your massage with a facial sweep up the face and across the forehead. (3x)
Once finished, complete this routine with the PAAVANI Ayurveda Skincare Ritual.
Is Garshana Right For Me?
From the Ayurvedic perspective, people that are predominant in kapha dosha or are currently experiencing a kapha imbalance will benefit the most from garshana. If this is you, we recommend that you perform dry brushing daily for optimal balance. If you are predominant in pitta dosha or experiencing a pitta imbalance, we recommend performing garshana 3-5 times per week to help detoxify your system. If you are predominant in vata dosha or experiencing a vata imbalance, we recommend you do garshana 1-2 times per week to help uplift the mind in a gentle way and always remember to follow your massage ritual with abhyanga to ground the nervous system.
Garshana and Abhyanga
If you are not familiar with abhyanga it is a traditional Ayurvedic massage that involves warm oil application. Although garshana and abhyanga are both lymphatic massages, dry brushing is energy-activating while abhyanga oil massage is nourishing and calming. Garshana is excellent prior to abhyanga because it exfoliates the skin, allowing oils and herbs to penetrate for maximum hydration and nourishment.
Caring for your Garshana Gloves
Our Garshana Gloves can be machine-washed and dried. This will make them even more exfoliating and knobbed with each wash! Do not iron or bleach. Do not perform garshana if:
- your skin is extremely sensitive
- you have a sunburn
- you are experiencing inflamed skin
- you have a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema
- you have any open wounds
- you are feeling ill
*For more ideas on how to promote spring detox at home, visit our blog Kapha Reducing Ginger Salt Bath.
Ayurveda has taught for centuries that in order to stay healthy and vibrant, we need to tune into the rhythms of nature and mimic the earth’s intuitive understanding that everything changes, nothing is forever and that it is important to continuously flow with the energy of the seasons. This spring, we encourage you to invite in some new Ayurvedic rituals, like garshana, to keep your self-care routine feeling fresh, vibrant and fun! Wishing you and your family a healthy and abundant season!