The Medical Chest: Dry Massage- Garshana

By Eleni Tsikrikas

Dry Brushing- Garshana

Dry brushing is one of Ayurveda’s daily self care steps. It promotes skin renewal, exfoliation and the elimination of toxins and impurities. The result is soft, firm, glowing skin.

Winter and Spring are considered the best seasons to dry brush. During these seasons its cold and dry or cold and moist. Cold slows things down and can increase sluggishness in the body mind. When Vata predominates, skin is thin, cold and dry. If Kapha predominates skin is thick, clammy with sluggish circulation.

Dry brushing warms and stimulates the skin bringing greater blood flow to the surface. Up to one third of toxins produced daily by the body are eliminated through the skin. As we age, our bodies ability to shed the outer layers of skin decreases. This leads to less efficient elimination of toxins, and places extra stress on other toxin removing organs – like the liver and kidneys.

Removing dry and dead skin cells by dry brushing each morning leaves the skin nourished and oxygenated. This practice improves the body’s ability to eliminate toxins and the function of sweat and secretion glands, turning your body back into the well oiled machine it should be.

The massage should only take about 5 minutes and is best done upon rising.

Vata types tend towards thin dry skin so, gentle massage, once a week is sufficient.
Pitta types tend towards warm sensitive skin so a couple times a week with medium friction is best. Less in summer.
Kapha types should do this as a daily ritual as they tend towards thicker skin and may hold on to fluids.


The Process

Tools needed:

  • A hand sized, soft, natural bristle brush or loofa mitt or silk gloves. Avoid synthetic fiber brushes and puffs because they are too rough.

How to:

  • Before bathing
  • Be gentle at first, the skin will become seasoned after a few weeks
  • Take extra care of tender areas
  • Avoid any problem spots, such as rashes or sores
  • As you acclimatize to the sensation, rub your skin quickly and fairly vigorously
  • Long strokes over the long bones such as the arms and legs
  • Use small circular movements for the joints of the shoulders, elbows, wrists, etc
  • Begin with the soles & brush upwards
  • If cellulite is an issue spend some time giving positive attention to those areas. Always finish any area with gentle strokes towards the heart
  • Progress from the legs to the hands and arms, brushing towards the shoulders. Next brush the head, ears and down the neck. Finish with the torso
  • Use the long wooden handle, brush your entire back then proceed to the front
  • Going in a clockwise motion around the belly button helps digestion
  • Be aware, this is a time to enjoy being with your body
  • Breath deeply while you brush
  • You can say nice things to yourself, such as “I love this body and see it radiantly healthy and filled with vitality”
  • Abhyanga or self oil massage, should be done after dry body brushing
  • Vata types finish with a warm shower or bath
  • Kapha and Pitta, types, finishing with a cool to cold rinse is beneficial as it closes the pores of the skin and stimulates circulation


  • Boosts immunity & enhances circulation
  • Increases body appreciation, encourages well being, releases tension
  • Exfoliates and maintains skins vital functions of excretion & absorption
  • Stimulates hormone function
  • Activates pores to remove waste material
  • Increases blood and lymphatic circulation
  • Helps digestion and colon function
  • Removes excess heat of pitta and stagnation of kapha

for all these reasons, dry- brushing is an excellent routine to add to our day and weekly skincare routine.


Eleni discovered YOGA as a means for reducing stress in 1995 while practicing law in Sydney, Australia. Smitten, Eleni completed the Sydney Yoga Centre’s teacher training course. In 2000, Eleni quit the legal profession to teach Yoga full time. In 2004 Eleni moved to Los Angeles and began intensive study with Robert Birnberg a senior student in the T. Krichnamacharya lineage. The major focus of her studies is the “Yoga Sutras of Pantajali” the guidebook dedicated to creating a satvic mind.

Eleni is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, CAS, a Pancha Karma Specialist PKS. She runs a private ayurvedic practice and teaches “Ayurvedic Skills for Living” courses in Silverlake and Sydney. She is a faculty member of The Yoga Institute in Sydney and at California College of Ayurveda, where she teaches and mentors students. She continues to pursue her passion for herbs, studying with renowned herbalist KP Khalsa. Eleni has completed the educational component leading to qualifications as a Western Herbalist. She is presently working on the accreditation process for the American Herbalist Guild.

Eleni passionately believes food is medicine and is looking forward to sharing her passion at The Yoga Institute with a monthly Ayuveda Workshop.

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