What You Need to Know About Dry Brushing | Acheloa Wellness
Updated: Apr 10
Dry Brushing. Maybe you’ve heard of it, but if not, you’ve come to the right place to get the FULL scoop. Known as “garshana” in Sanskrit, dry brushing is a holistic health trend worth considering, especially in the springtime. The perks of dry brushing are many, including softer, exfoliated skin and increased blood flow. What’s not mentioned in Cosmopolitan and other trendy mediums; however, is that dry brushing is not meant for everybody nor recommended all year round.
I wrote a few years back on Acheloa Wellness, my blog, about the who, what, where, when and why of dry brushing, but this post is about whether dry brushing will actually benefit YOU.
DRY BRUSHING ISN’T FOR EVERY BODY
I initially learned about dry brushing 7 years ago and figured I’d try it for myself. The results were instantaneous. Not only did my skin feel amazing, but I felt immediately energized. However, after practicing almost daily for a few months, I noticed the practice was too rough on my skin or had me feeling overcharged and buzzy, as if I had a triple-shot of espresso. Once feeling those negative effects, I put the brush down… that is, until I learned the science of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda teaches us that everything can be a medicine or a poison, all depending how and when we’re using it. The same goes for ancient, yet trendy self-care practice dry brushing.
Dry Brushing has light, mobile, dry, rough, subtle and clearing qualities. By performing this practice, it helps to break-through stagnation, heaviness and emotional fogginess. This sounds all well and good, but it can be contraindicated due to temporal and “doshic” factors.
One main rule of Ayurveda is to find balance in mind, body and soul by inviting opposite qualities. Just as we know to wear more clothes in the cold winter months, we should only practice self-care techniques that create harmony in our bodies. This means that the techniques meant for your body may vary from mine. Our environmental surroundings also play a significant role in the equation.
The qualities of garshana are very similar to those of vata: light, dry, rough and subtle. Therefore, it is generally contraindicated for vata-types, those with significant vata imbalances and the vata time of year (late fall/early winter). It’s also not preferred for those living in arid, extremely cold or windy environments.
A vata-type of person doesn’t need more mobility in their life as they’re already consistently on the go. Vatas are generally lighter in physique; by practicing dry brushing, they could experience dizziness, faintness or even minor anxiety. More movement and increased circulation in the body could exacerbate body twitches or feelings of ungrounded-ness.
Dry brushing, however, isn’t purely evil. It can benefit many if used at the right time, the right place and with the right frequency.
WHO IS DRY BRUSHING GOOD FOR?
Dry brushing is wonderful for kapha types, kapha-imbalances and kapha time of year (late winter/spring).
As the qualities of kapha are more dense, oily, stable, cloudy and heavy, dry brushing is the perfect antidote to someone experiencing lethargy, sluggishness or heavy-heartedness. Mentally, dry brushing clears the fog that creates uncertainty, envy or minor depression. Garshana can be a perfect balance for our kapha friends to break-through stagnation of both body and mind.
Dry brushing generally does well for those living in Kapha environments, which are wet, heavy and humid like springtime in the Northeast or “off season” in the tropics. Imagine the heaviness on a gray, cloudy, rainy day. The idea of walking the dog can feel daunting on a day like this. A quick dry-brush before you shower might be all you need to feel invigorated, energized and focused.
IS DRY BRUSHING RIGHT FOR YOU?
Are you thinking dry brushing might be a healing practice for you? My best advice is to start slowly—once per week—to feel the benefits and experience its long-term application. If it feels additive, then you can slowly increase frequency. Generally, the only ones who might want to consider a daily practice should be kapha types living in kapha environments or temporarily during kapha season. Otherwise, daily might not be needed to reap all of the benefits.
Although what’s mentioned in this post is a good rule of thumb, but we all have unique bodies, climates, prakriti permutations and vikruti imbalances that make this simple question slightly more complicated. Should there be any question or concern as to whether a dry brushing practice is suitable for you, contact an Ayurvedic health counselor to ensure you’re caring for your body in the best possible way.
With the skin as our largest organ, it’s important we invite constant, loving care. As we enter the kapha season of springtime, consider whether the practice of dry brushing would add value to your self-care routine. If so, get yourself a natural, vegetable-derived dry brush and get going!