Spring is here! The earth’s energy is calling for something different. Now is a perfect time to change-up your daily routine. Ayurvedic wisdom offers recommendations that will help you look and feel your best with every seasonal transition. And for most people, garshana massage definitely fits the bill this time of year.

Translated in Sanskrit to mean “polishing or rubbing,” garshana is sometimes referred to as a “dry brushing massage” or a “lymphatic massage” because it stimulates lymphatic system movement. It’s a simple, energizing technique with amazing benefits.

Some Basics About Garshana Massage

Garshana is traditionally completed with raw silk gloves or wool gloves. Some practitioners have been known to use a loofa, a bristled dry brush or even rough pieces of material. The idea is that the skin is rubbed vigorously with something that is rough.

It is important to note that the ideal frequency of garshana massages varies. For many people, it is an important part of an Ayurvedic daily routine. Those with Kapha and Pitta/Kapha birth constitutions love it. For others, especially people with Vata-dominant birth constitutions, a few times a week is optimal in spring (again, when Kapha energy is dominant). Excessive dry brushing can aggravate Vata.

The theory behind garshana massage is pretty simple. Think of your lymphatic system as your garbage truck or sewage system. It picks up the body’s trash and toxins, and helps to fight unwanted bacteria and viruses. But it only moves when you do.

During a week when you’re walking, hitting the mat or spending time at the gym each day, all of that movement enables your lymphatic system to do its job (think immunity). When you are a bit less active, garshana can make up for it. The dry brushing stimulates movement so your body can function as it should. But during the springtime—when Kapha is the dominant earth energy—your lymphatic system needs a pick-me-up to keep it working at its best.

Beyond lymphatic system movement, garshana is also said to have benefits like these:

  • Exfoliates dead skin
  • Enhances blood circulation
  • Pulls deep-rooted “gook” from your tissues to help with immunity
  • Aids in liver detoxification

How to Garshana Massage

Whenever possible, a lymphatic massage should be done early in the day—before your morning shower—so you can wash away what is loosened during the process.

Before bathing (while still dry), vigorously massage your whole body moving toward your heart. Avoid areas of the skin that are sensitive, broken open or inflamed. Use your silk gloves to apply pressure. Go lightly where your skin is thin—especially on the face and neck—and a bit heavier in areas where your skin is thick. Use long strokes on limbs and circles (or half-moons) on the joints. Apply a circular motion on your tummy and bottom.

It is a good idea to follow your garshana massage with a warm oil massage (abhyanga). Then take your morning shower. The dry brushing opens your pores. The oil calms your nervous system. It is a lovely combination.

Dry brushing is a wonderful way to put a spring into your step and bring about a healthy glow. Give it a try!