Brush your Rivers of Life - dry skin brushing, the lymphatic system and flowing with life.
DRY SKIN BRUSHING
This is something I really enjoy doing for myself and recommend to so many of my clients. Not only does it feel invigorating but it is so good for the circulation, flow and function of our Lymphatic system. This practice is especially beneficial for those who have a tendency to retain fluid.
My grandmother gave me a body brush when I was in my early teens and taught me how to brush my skin and all the benefits. I still have that brush today, along with a few other brushes and mitts gathered over the years to remind me to brush my skin regularly.
Our Lymphatic system is the largest fluid network in our bodies. I like to think of it as our internal rivers or our inner estuary. It is our ebb and flow, our life sustaining river system. This wonderful lymphatic river carries nutrients from one place to the other, while at the same time filters out toxins and pathogens. It becomes an important part of our immune system. Our rivers must flow and drain and flow, we must not let them get stagnant.
So why brush the skin? Our lymph system lies just below the surface of the skin. Because of the large surface area of the skin, it becomes our largest organ of detoxification. By brushing you are manually moving and encouraging your lymph to flow and drain. Congestion of this system can lead to a host of issues including the retention of toxic waste, building up unwanted baggage, inflammation and oedema to name a few.
Skin brushing is an instant feel good practice that does the following;
exfoliates dead skin cells making your skin feel smooth and your body lighter as it unclogs congested pores allowing your skin to breathe.
promotes lymphatic drainage allowing toxins to flow out of the body.
helps to move nutrients to all places.
stimulates the immune function of the lymph to make our B cells (our defence cells) and our T cells (our warrior cells that attack invasive agents).
What you need for this practice is a wooden body brush with soft natural bristles or a woven mitt made from natural fibres.
The best time to do this is before a shower or bath and as little as once to three times per week is beneficial. If you are dealing with congestion, then I suggest a daily practice for a week or two to get things really flowing.
Allow for 5-10 minutes. Brushing in a circular motion towards the direction of your heart. Start at the feet and move upwards in a circular motion, going over each area 3 times. When you get to your abdomen move in a clockwise direction. When you get to the arms, start at the hand and move up to the arm and down the arm pit and around the breast tissue area. Go gently around the neck area, with gentle downward brush strokes. Some brushes come with a long handle allowing you to reach your back.
Because of our slower movements in winter or if we are sedentary due to work, keeping the lymph flowing will improve your overall circulation, warm the body and boost immune function. Carrying on this practice well into spring time with a good spring clean/ detox diet regimen is a great way to look after your body throughout the seasons.
TIP - drink plenty of water - sipping on warm/hot water through out the day and adding a pinch of salt to your water will help you absorb the water better in your cells and not feel like its bloating you up or passing straight through.
Exercise is important of course with brisk walks, swimming and jumping on a mini tramp among the best forms of moving the lymphatic system.
Taking this brushing a wholistic step further downstream!
It's all about Harmony. Harmony between you and your environment, lifestyle and relationships.
Using mindfulness while you are brushing will enhance the experience and overall effects. Being present and attentive while you brush, consciously moving your fluid around allows you to get in touch with your undercurrent and what else is flowing there. We often associate emotions to the element of water, so here you can go further and ask yourself;
are you carrying any emotional baggage that you need to let go of and flow?
where in your life are you feeling stagnant or not letting go?
how connected are you with water in your daily life? are you getting enough?
do you feel connected to your emotions and how they are affecting you?
is my life flowing in the direction I want and need?
I hope you have learnt a new thing or two on the lymphatic system and that it has inspired you to get out that body brush from the back of the cupboard or find one in a store and place it beside your bath/shower and use it! I promise you, your body will feel fantastic after and if you are inclined to work with your emotions on this one, then emotionally you will feel lighter as you let go, release and find your flow as you brush your rivers of life.
And because I am a herbalist I cannot sign off this post without a little botanical tip. In herbal medicine we use herbs in extract form like echinacea, calendula, clivers, poke root, dandelion, kelp and astragalus to move, clean and nourish the lymphatic system. Herb infusions are a great way to get the daily fluid intake as well as assisting the clearing of lymph.
Here is a nice tea blend idea to cleanse the lymph and blood; nettle leaf, calendula, echinacea, lemongrass and ginger.