These days, there are countless wellbeing practices that have been well-studied for their health, beauty and mind-boosting benefits. From meditation and mindfulness, to breathwork, cold therapy, infrared saunas and journaling—there are a myriad of ways we are now able to elevate our self-care routines and support our bodies.
Garshana: Ayurvedic Dry Body Brushing
But there is one ritual that, despite being around for centuries, is often overlooked—the art of dry body brushing. Although many traditional cultures have their own variation of this body-boosting practice, Garshana dry body brushing (pronounced gar-sha-nuh) originates from ancient India and the Ayurvedic tradition, where it was used widely as a cleansing and healing practice to detoxify the body and remove ama (or toxins).
While in modern times we usually conflate the art of body brushing with a way to enhance beauty, truth be told, the practice of Garshana holds many benefits—as we dive into below…
1. Improves lymphatic drainage
When practised daily, Garshana dry body brushing is one of the best ways to improve lymphatic drainage and given that our lymphatic system is one of our body’s key channels of detoxification—it’s a practice with far-reaching rewards. As part of our immune system, our lymphatic system is a complex network of ducts, nodes and vessels that collects and circulates fluid—also known as ‘lymph’—through virtually all the tissues in our body. With three key functions—helping to maintain optimal fluid balance in the body, assisting with the absorption of fat in the intestines and supporting immune function by ensuring our lymph nodes effectively filter any viruses and bacteria that we come into contact with (as well as producing protective antibodies to help prevent disease and infection)—it’s clear that keeping this system running smoothly is of the utmost importance to our health and wellbeing.
However, unlike our circulatory system, which flows on its own, our lymphatic system can easily become sluggish which is why regular exercise, breathwork and daily Garshana dry body brushing can be so helpful. Because of the physical nature of Garshana, using firm, fluid strokes in the direction of your heart, works with your body’s natural flow of lymph and promotes improved detoxification.
2. Energises the body
Garshana dry body brushing is often picked up as a practice to help support healthy skin—but on a deeper level, the physicality of the practice itself helps to energise the body and promote warmth from head to toe. This is because with every brushstroke, you are helping to stimulate blood flow and increase circulation—moving energy through the body and further supporting detoxification channels.
3. Improves skin tone & texture
It may sound obvious, but one of Garshana’s most appealing benefits is how it can improve skin tone and texture. The soft bristles help to gently exfoliate the skin, clearing debris from pores and sloughing away dead skin cells whilst by helping to stimulate blood flow and bring freshly oxygenated blood to the skin’s surface. As a result, skin is left feeling smoother, looking clearer, brighter and more glowy!
4. Reduces puffiness
Garshana translated literally means “friction by rubbing”—and as explored above, is an excellent way of stimulating lymphatic drainage. This in turn helps to reduce puffiness by shifting and moving any excess fluid that has accumulated. Given many of us have fairly sedentary lifestyles, Garshana is one way to help stimulate movement in the body and ensure puffiness caused by fluid retention is reduced. Similarly, when firm strokes are used, dry body brushing can also help to break down fatty deposits beneath the skin, tightening the skin and reducing the appearance of cellulite.