GARSHANA ”“ Dry Body Brushing

By Devaki Parthasarathy

It is autumn in the Southern hemisphere and spring in the Northern hemisphere. During both these seasons the Kapha Dosha. Kapha represents water and earth and governs our bodies insulation (fat layers) and our protective facilities, like our immune system. Our bodies during this time tend to be imbalanced, and can make us feel sluggish and tired. Ayurveda to the rescue.

The skin is the largest organ in our body. The skin helps us eliminate up to one third of our bodies toxins. As we age, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to shed the outer layers of skin. This leads to less efficient elimination of toxins, and places extra stress on other organs involved in removing toxins from the body ”“ like our liver and kidneys.

Garshana, (pronounced gar-shun-uh), is an Ayurvedic abhyanaga. The word in Sanskrit literally translates to ”˜friction by rubbing.’  Fast gaining traction in the Western world, it is commonly known as dry brushing.

The practice of Garshana involves a stimulating lymphatic massage to detoxify the lymphatic system, refresh your skin and revive the mind. This methodical brushing takes  helps to remove dry and dead skin cells by dry brushing each morning not only helps improve your body’s ability to eliminate toxins, but it also improves the function of your sweat and secretion glands, turning your body back into the well-oiled machine it should be.

I know your mind is asking you many question as to what, why and how Garshana. Let me break the information down for you”¦


The lymphatic system transports lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. In doing so, it acts as the drainage system of the body, helping to remove toxins, waste and other unwanted materials which are known as ama in Ayurveda.

Unlike the circulatory system which has the heart to initiate movement, the lymphatic system does not move on its own. To maintain proper function, the lymphatic system needs daily deep breathing, cardio exercise, yoga, and garshana or abhyanga massage. Modern day sedentary lifestyle however does not allow for most or safe to say any of these activities, rendering the lymphatic drainage process inefficient or “sluggish”

Garshana is an easy and effective way to improve lymphatic drainage and improve overall mind and body health. It takes just 3-5 minutes and has no adverse effects.


As I mentioned, Garshana helps to balance the Kapha Dosha.Garshana also has a plethora of other benefits for your health and beauty:

  • Detoxifies the lymphatic system
  • Expels ama (toxins)
  • Stimulates blood flow
  • Increases circulation
  • Warms the body
  • Improves energy
  • Promotes mental alertness
  • Exfoliates the skin
  • Encourages cellular renewal
  • Revives skin tone + texture
  • Combats cellulite


It is best to brush toward the heart to assist the movement of lymph in the body, applying as much pressure as comfortable. Exert more force in areas of fatty tissue & brush gently on sensitive areas.

To dry brush your body use a natural brush (available online, or in your local health food store).

  1. Dry brush before you shower to remove dead skin.  Use upward strokes, as firm as is comfortable. Start with your extremities- first with the bottoms of your feet and work up the ankles and legs all the way to your hips. Work your way towards the heart. Pay close attention to inner thighs, to help your lymphatic system.
  2. Next move on to your arms again working your way towards your heart. Pay close attention to armpits (the added benefit of dry brushing is stimulating our lymphatic system, which relies on our muscle movement to circulate lymph fluid).
  3. Next, brush your back as best you can. There are brushes with handles that can help. But if you can’t get one of those, then brush the back as best as you can.
  4. Finally, work on your abdominal area. Working in a clockwise direction, brush until your skin is rosy and tingles a little. This can also help to stimulate our colon helping us with another step in the morning self-care ritual (emptying the bowels).
  5. Finally work on your chest and neck. This is delicate skin so you use care.
  6. Hop in the shower. The warm shower will wash off the dead cells. After the shower, when the pores are open apply a good quality body oil and seal in the good moisture.
  7. Remember to use your intuition and avoid sensitive areas and areas with broken skin. Wash and dry your brush periodically.

Tip for easy clean up: Stand in the shower cubicle or on a towel to perform Garshana as dead skin cells can be sloughed off in the process. 

Do not perform Garshana if: 

  • your skin is extremely sensitive
  • you have a sunburn
  • you are experiencing inflamed skin
  • you have a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema
  • you have any open wounds
  • you are feeling ill

Ayurveda has taught for centuries that in order to stay healthy and vibrant, we need to tune into the rhythms of nature and mimic the earth’s intuitive understanding that everything changes, nothing is forever and that it is important to continuously flow with the energy of the seasons. This time of year, no matter which hemisphere you are on, I encourage you to invite in this Ayurvedic ritual to keep your self-care routine feeling fresh, vibrant and fun! Trust me it is better than a hot cup of coffee

Wishing you and your family a healthy and abundant season!

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