Dry Brushing for Stagnant Lymph
Updated: Mar 1
During Spring, the Kapha season, an excess of fluid and mucus can accumulate in the lymphatic system and create congestion and stagnation of the lymph.
How do you know if you have congested lymph?
Symptoms include water retention, brain fog, stubborn weight gain and belly fat, stiffness or soreness especially in the morning, chronic sinusitis, sore throats, swollen glands, colds, ear issues (earaches, hearing & balance issues), sluggishness, and cellulite.
The lymphatic system is the drain of all the waste in our bodies. It is the largest circulatory system we have. It’s what drives the nutrients into the body and it’s what moves the toxins out of the body - a very critical system. It helps us take out the trash, and helps us bring in fresh vital nutrition. It is the major drainage system of every single cell in the body, brain, and digestive tract.
As there is no pump for the lymphatic system, like the heart is for the blood, we need movement to encourage the lymph to move through the channels.
One Ayurvedic technique to support the movement of your lymph is Garshana, also called dry brushing. Garshana promotes lymphatic drainage and is an effective way to support the removal of toxins (ama). Please note it takes a whole regimen of diet and lifestyle practices to thoroughly support a congested lymphatic system, but dry brushing is an easy, practical, and beneficial ritual to add to your list.
You can do this with a natural bristle brush, or with traditional silk or linen gloves - you can get more nooks and crannies with the gloves. When used properly, either of these tools encourages movement of the lymph and blood in the underlying tissues, which helps increase circulation and move out stagnant toxins.
The best time of day to do this is the morning, as it has an energizing effect. This should be performed before an Abhyanga (warm oil self-massage).
How to Dry Brush your Body
While you are dry and before you bathe, get your brush or put your gloves on and vigorously massage your whole back and front body, always keeping the direction of the stroke towards your heart. Use long strokes on the limbs and circles on the joints. This should take no longer than 5 minutes.
1. Start at the feet with long, smooth upward strokes making your way up to your thighs, moving in circles around your ankles, knees, hips, and buttocks.
2. At your torso, move in circles around the tummy, then upward strokes towards the heart all the way up to the neck.
3. Move to the hands and make long, smooth upward strokes, moving in circles around the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
Make sure to use gentle pressure on your face, neck, and other sensitive areas.
In addition to providing stimulation to the lymphatic system, this also helps exfoliate your dry skin cells which will then allow for better absorption of your abhyanga oil.
This is a practice most supportive for those with dominant Kapha dosha or someone with excess Kapha and/or congested lymph, and can be practiced daily.
If your skin is overly dry, and/or has Vata-type skin (dry, rough & sensitive), dry brushing might be irritating to your parched nerve endings. You need less dry brushing, and more soothing massage with warm, heavy oil.
If you have any skin conditions ~ eczema, psoriasis or any skin inflammations (typical Pitta imbalances) ~ your skin is inflamed and angry, so dry brushing is not recommended here either.