Does Skin Brushing Benefit All Ayurveda Body Types?
Updated: Jan 14
If you're anything like me, you are always on the lookout for invigorating health and wellness trends. In my research, I've discovered dry brushing. Maybe you’ve heard of this practice of Ayurveda, but if not, you’ve come to the right place to get the FULL scoop.
Known as “Garshana” in Sanskrit, dry brushing skin is a holistic health trend worth considering - especially in the springtime. Dry brushing comes with many perks, including promoting softer, exfoliated skin and increased blood flow.
While many trendy media outlets like Cosmopolitan have published articles about the benefits of this Ayurvedic skincare technique, they rarely mention that dry brushing is not meant for everybody. It is also worth noting that Garshana experts do not recommend dry brushing skin all year round.
A few years back, I wrote on my blog, Acheloa Wellness, about the who, what, where, when and why of dry brushing. This post will help guide you to determining whether dry brushing Ayurveda will actually benefit YOU.
SHOULD DRY BRUSHING BE A DAILY PRACTICE?
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 dry brushing almost every day for a few months, I noticed the practice was too rough on my skin. Additionally, I began to experience feeling overcharged and anxious, as if I downed a triple-shot of espresso. I promptly put the brush down and gave up on the practice. Then, I learned about the science of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda teaches us that everything can act as a medicine or a poison. Depending on how and when we’re using dry brushing, this philosophy applies to this ancient self-care practice.
Let's take a deeper look at some of the Ayurvedic Dosha and Guna qualities and their relationship to dry brushing. If you're new to the Ayurvedic Doshas and Gunas and need some clarity, take a look at my article, "Harmony Amid the Extremities: Understanding the 20 Ayurvedic Gunas."
The act of dry brushing skin elicits light, mobile, dry, rough, subtle and, clearing qualities. By engaging in this practice, we can break through stagnation, heaviness and emotional fogginess. While dry brushing provides useful benefits, in excess, it can be detrimental depending on the "Doshic" qualities of your body and/or environment.
One main rule of Ayurveda is to find balance in the mind, body and soul by embracing life's opposite qualities. Just as we know to stay warm in the cold winter months, we know to cool off during hot summer days. We should actively practice self-care techniques that create harmony in our bodies in accordance with our surroundings. However, our surroundings affect each of us in unique ways. For example, some people tolerate heat less than others. This means that the techniques meant for your body may vary from mine. Dry brushing every day may be too rough on my skin, while invigorating yours.
Let's consider the three Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These qualities have their own unique sensitivities. The act of Garshana posses very similar qualities to those of Vata: light, dry, rough and subtle. Therefore, if your body and personality align more with Vata, you may not need to engage in dry brushing as often. Similarly, if it is a Vata time of year (late fall/early winter), dry brushing may create an excess of those qualities.
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 and by practicing dry brushing, they could experience dizziness, minor anxiety or even exacerbate body twitches.
WHO DRY SKIN BRUSHING GOOD FOR?
Dry brushing is wonderful for Kapha types, Kapha-imbalances and the Kapha time of year (late winter/spring).
The qualities of Kapha are more dense, oily, stable, cloudy, and heavy. dry brushing skin addresses lethargy, sluggishness or heavy-heartedness. As for mental health, dry brushing clears mental fogginess creating uncertainty, envy or minor depression. Lastly, Garshana helps our Kapha friends break through stagnation of both body and mind.
Dry brushing generally benefits those living in wet, heavy and humid environments - the core characteristics of Kapha. Springtime in the Northeast or “off season” in the tropics, for example, posses these Kapha qualities. If you live in an environment like this, sometimes you may feel less motivated. Who wants to run errands when it's grey and rainy outside? A quick dry-brush before you shower might be all you need to feel energized and ready to lead a productive day.
IS GARSHANA RIGHT FOR YOU?
Are you thinking dry brushing might be a healing practice for you? Make sure to consider the Doshas and what will benefit your body most. When used at the right time and place, and with the right frequency, dry brushing skin is a beneficial addition to your self-care routine.
My best advice is to start slowly—once per week. You will get a feel for the benefits and experience its long-term effects. If dry brushing feels like a positive addition to your daily or weekly routine, then slowly increase the frequency of this activity.
With the skin as our largest organ, it’s important we give it constant, loving care. Remember, we all have unique bodies, climates, Prakriti permutations and Vikruti imbalances. If you have any questions or concerns in regards to your Garshana practice, I recommend reaching out to an Ayurvedic health counselor to ensure you’re caring for your body in the best possible way.
.As we enter each new season 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!
If you'd like to learn more about dry brushing and other helpful wellness tips, click this link to jump on my calendar and schedule your free 20 minute mini-breakthrough session!