This is the time of year that even our best efforts to start the day energized and alert can be sabotaged by the heat and humidity. Rather than reaching for another iced coffee when feeling sluggish, try invigorating yourself from the outside with a technique known as dry skin brushing. Practiced for centuries by various cultures, skin brushing is exactly what it sounds like – brushing the surface of dry skin with a stiff-bristled natural fiber brush. The effects of incorporating this simple practice into your daily routine can be quite profound. Skin brushing helps to detoxify the body by stimulating the lymphatic system and removing blockages in the superficial lymph vessels just under the skin; it helps to exfoliate and slough away dead skin; it’s even been said to help with the appearance of cellulite when practiced regularly. Need I say more?
So, how is it done? First, choose a brush whose stiffness you like/can tolerate. The first couple of times you may feel extra sensitive to the new sensation, so be sure to adjust the pressure you brush with to what is comfortable to you – stimulating, without being overly irritating. A brush with a long handle will help with the harder-to-reach places. Always brush on dry skin and towards the heart, avoiding any scratches or broken skin. I like to start with the soles of the feet (ticklish beware!), brushing in circles along the whole bottom surface of the feet. From there, brush up the legs in long one-way strokes upwards, rather than up and down. When you get to meatier parts like the backs of the legs and the buttocks, feel free to spend longer here making circular motions again, letting the cellulite-busting power of the brush work its magic. From the low back, brush forward along the waistline on both sides, and then follow with strokes from the low back up towards the mid and upper back. Moving on to the arms, repeat long, one-way strokes from the tops of the hands towards the shoulders, and then along the undersides of the arms from the palms to the armpits, where gentle circular motions are effective to stimulate lymph flow (again, tickle warning!) Brush the neck, starting from the nape of the neck and moing forward toward the jaw, and then down towards the chest, avoiding the sensitive skin of the breasts for women. Lastly, brush gentle clockwise circles along the belly.This whole routine can take as few as 2 minutes or you can incorporate it into your “me” time or use it as a body-focused meditation and let it take 20 minutes. Immediately your skin will feel more alive, your mind more alert and sensitive to your body, and internally, you’ll feel blood and fluid moving more freely, openly, and calmly than if you had relied on good ol’ frenemy caffeine. Because dry skin brushing is so invigorating, it’s best done in the morning, before a warm shower or bath, or any time you need a little pick-me-up (like when you’re changing out of yourwork clothes and deciding whether to put on your yoga outfit and make it to that 5:30 class, or just transition straight to pajamas). Like with anything else, the more consistent the practice, the greater the results. But with something this simple and easy that feels so good, why not let it become a habit?
Author: Catherine Burke
Catherine started practicing yoga as a teenager and hasn’t looked back since that first time she floated out of a yoga class. Discovering yoga at an early age has given her a deep and intuitive understanding of the physical practice and a holistic approach to it as a way of life. A New Orleans native. You can find more words from Catherine here on our blog. Look for her return to our schedule in the near future.