According to Ayurveda, Kapha dosha rules the springtime and many of the qualities of Kapha can be seen in the outside environment. These qualities include slow, heavy, dense, thick, cloudy, and cold. I often imagine Kapha like a muddy road, thick, cool, and super sticky.
Why is this important? According to Ayurveda we are a microcosm of the macrocosm — that is, our body reflects what is happening in the external world. You may notice that there is more stagnation, congestion, and heaviness in your body as we move through spring. Allergies, anyone?
In order to negate these feelings of heaviness and stagnation it is important to get Kapha moving, either through a jaunt through the neighborhood or with some dry brushing. Also called garshana, dry brushing is a terrific springtime habit to incorporate into your daily routine.
Most natural food stores and co-ops sell dry brushes — look for them in the health and beauty aisle. Alternatively, you can opt for a more traditional Ayurvedic approach and purchase some silk gloves, or garshana gloves. Dry brushing is always done before bathing and the process helps to exfoliate the skin.
What are the Benefits of Garshana?
Garshana helps to remove dead skin, thus allowing the body to more easily shed toxic materials. We're basically working to unclog the sweat glands and eliminate any extra body waste in the form of old skin cells. If the channels are clogged, waste materials cannot make their way out, so get scrubbing!
Dry brushing is terrific for moving the lymphatic system, which unlike the venous system, does not have a pump. The lymphatic system is what keeps us healthy; it helps to dispose of the body's garbage. By massaging the skin towards the heart this helps direct the lymph towards the nodes where any toxins can be excreted. This process actually increases the rate of detoxification.
By aiding the body in this elimination process, you are helping to prevent some inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, that appear due to toxic build-up. Cellulite is also a sign of congested lymph. It is recommended to focus the dry brushing on the areas with cellulite. By increasing the lymph movement this will help decrease the fluid content of the fat cells. Once this is reduced, the appearance of cellulite will begin to diminish. How's that for a bonus?
Optimally, dry brushing is performed in the morning before your bath or shower. Aim for about 5-10 minutes each time and, if time allows, try and dry brush every morning. So gather your gloves or dry brush and let's get massaging.
How to Perform Garshana
Be sure that your skin is clean, dry, and free of any lotions or oils.
With either the dry brush or silk glove, in a circular pattern begin to massage the wrists and elbows. Use long strokes up the full length of the arm. This helps direct the lymph towards the armpit where there are big groupings of nodes.
Massage the buttocks and stomach in large circular motions.
Continue to use that circular pattern for the knees, once again sweeping a long stroke up the thigh, this time directing the lymph towards the nodes located in the groin. Be sure to focus on any areas in which there is more cellulite such as the back of the thighs and buttocks.
Circle around the ankles and feet, spending a few more moments on the calves in long strokes.
After the massage you can either step into the shower or apply a light coating of some warming sesame oil or a Kapha massage oil. The skin is exfoliated and ripe to absorb some oil. Let the oil soak in for a few minutes before hitting the shower. The steam from the shower will help the oil penetrate further leaving your skin baby soft.
This practice is bound to make your skin glow as you slough off dead skin cells. Not only will you be radiant, but you may notice your energy levels begin to increases as your lymph gets flowing each morning. Overtime, those pesky springtime allergies could begin to subside thanks to all that extra detoxing the body is performing. Give it a try and, as always, notice how you feel.
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Writer Lauren Sauer is a graduate from the Kripalu School of Ayurveda and a certified 500 hour Kripalu Ayurvedic Yoga Teacher. As an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, she is passionate about educating others to become their own health advocate, to live with the rhythms of nature and to simply slow down and breathe. She currently resides in the beautiful Berkshires as the intern with the Kripalu School of Ayurveda.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.