The Art of Body Brushing
With the arrival spring there is this innate desire to begin awakening and energizing the body as we shake of the heaviness of winter and welcome the rebirth of Spring.
One of my absolute favorite practices for nourishing self care in the spring is the act of dry brushing before bathing. Dry brushing has been used in the beauty industry for years for the gentle sloughing of dead skin and the velvety soft texture the skin transforms to with regular practice, but energetically body brushing does much more.
As you learn the technique of body brushing and your strokes become more confident you will supporting two of the most important systems in the body for maintaining a strong immune system: the Lymphatic System and Circulatory System. As we brush up and in toward the heart and the mid-line of the body we stimulate the intricate pathways of our lymph which are our pathogen removers. As you brush you support this system moving toxicity from the four corners of the body to the hub in the torso where it can then be more easily flushed through the digestive system.
The act of dry brushing also increases circulation in the body- and again, the movement of brushing up and in to the mid-line of the body moves blood back toward the heart to be renewed. This is where the beautiful flush and glow of brushed skin comes from. It promotes our quality of Tejas, our inner radiance, to shine. It also promotes healthy digestion as blood flow increases in the abdomen. A necessary step for flushing all the toxins moving in from the extremities toward the digestive system.
And perhaps the most subtle but meaningful benefit of dry brushing is that act of devoted self-care. All of the self-care practices that Ayurveda offers (and there is a lot!) encourages us to love, care, and nurture our bodies as the temples that they are. Taking the 2-3 minutes to activate your body’s natural intelligence through dry brushing exemplifies self kindness and compassion. The more of these qualities we bestow on ourselves the more we can give to others. A simple way to create beautiful ripples in the world, don’t you think?
How to Dry Brush
Your will need: a natural bristle brush, 2-5 minutes before you bathe. My tip? A natural bristle brush with a longer handle will help you reach your backside with less strain. Keep your brush out near the shower or bath so you remember to utilize it as you grow the habit.
The practice: Starting with the bottoms of your feet begin brushing with upward strokes that are firm but not so much that it hurts the skin. As you stroke upward focus on the joints, areas that have more cellulite, or patches of drier skin (these areas all contain more lymph nodes and we tend to store toxins in areas of dryness and fat tissue). Once you brush up to the hips and buttocks you can go in a clockwise motion around the stomach and navel to promote good digestion. Brush upward on the back (this is where that long handle helps!) Move to the hands and brush up the arms toward the neck. Take time to brush around the breasts and from the neck brush downward gently towards the heart. You can brush clockwise around the heart center to finish.
My tips: Stand in the shower or bathtub as you brush so you can rinse dead skin cells down the drain. You can buy a mini face brush and gently brush the face upward (without pulling on the skin). These facial brushes often have softer bristles for the delicate skin of the face. Your skin may look flushed but it should never be red or aggravated after brushing, if it does seem irritated go lighter on your strokes.
After you brush, bathe as normal.
Contraindications: If you have been ill or under the weather body brushing may aggravate symptoms. Open wounds or rashes should be avoided.