A few years ago, I wrote a book called The Encyclopedia of Ayurvedic Massage, which details the many Ayurvedic massage techniques. Each requires a unique oil and has very specific stroke patterns.
But not all Ayurvedic massage techniques require oil. One of the most popular and most loved is garshana. Garshana is a dry, lymphatic, skin-exfoliating, vigorous massage using raw silk gloves (wool can be used as an alternative) designed to create skin friction and static electricity. According to Ayurveda, static electricity helps alkalize the blood beneath the skin and support healthy lymphatic movement.
The rough nature of raw silk provides a gentle, dry exfoliation without damaging skin. Garshana is Ayurveda’s classic lymphatic massage technique. The massage starts at the feet and works up to the head with each stroke, encouraging lymph flow towards the heart.
The lymphatic system flows from the extremities (arms and legs), head, and neck towards the heart. Beneath the surface of the skin is an aspect of the lymphatic system called Skin Associated Lymphatic Tissue (or SALT).
Roles of Lymphatic System
- Carries the immune system throughout the body
- Detoxifies and disinfects impurities and undigested food (ama)
- Delivers fat to every cell of the body for baseline energy
Roles of Skin Associated Lymphatic Tissue (SALT)
- Provides lymph-based immune cells, which address foreign invaders that may penetrate the skin from a bite or cut
- Supports healthy functioning of the skin through waste removal
- Supports normal flow of blood and nutrients to the skin’s surface layers
Static Electricity Generated From Garshana
At the turn of the 20th century, before allopathic medicine took hold in America, there was a robust system of medicine called eclectic medicine that incorporated traditional remedies passed down through generations.1
One of their therapies used static electricity generators as therapeutic devices to alkalize the blood, boost lymph circulation, and support a host of other health benefits. They discovered that static electricity changed the structure of oxygen from O2 to O3 (ozone). Ozone is a well-known cutting-edge therapy today!1
Thousands of years ago, Ayurveda began using garshana glove massage, claiming the static electricity created on the surface of the skin supported health in a variety of ways. Garshana glove massage combines exfoliation, lymph stimulation, and static electricity on the surface of the skin, which is now known to boost ozone levels.
Eclectic medicine discovered that static electricity on the surface of the skin creates ozone. Based on the benefits of ozone therapy, they opened static electricity clinics around the country as part of the growing spa and longevity clinic industry of the late 1800s and early 1900s.1
Today, static electricity is used to create that distinctive smelling ozone to purify air in electrostatic air filters. If you have ever been near a thunderstorm, that air can smell slightly burned: that is the smell of ozone created by a nearby lightning strike.3
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Benefits of Ozone2
- Regulates vascular tone and blood flow
- Delivers oxygen to mitochondria for energy production
- Supports healthy blood viscosity
- Supports healthy arterial lining, preventing cardiovascular disease
- Generates antioxidants for repair, such as SOD (superoxide dismutase)
- Supports healthy blood sugar and better insulin sensitivity
- Lowers BMI (body mass index)
- Regulates brain blood flow and neural plasticity
- Supports cellular immunity
How To: Ayurvedic Garshana Self-Massage
- Start with dry skin in a warm comfortable room.
- With raw silk gloves, start with about 20 fast, vigorous strokes on the bottoms of feet.
- Massage and exfoliate each toe with a twisting and pulling stroke.
- Use circular strokes around ankles and insteps.
- Use long strokes ONLY IN THE UPWARD direction on shins and calves.
- Use circular strokes on knees.
- Use long upward strokes on thighs.
- Circular strokes on hips.
- Circular strokes on lower abdomen, ending with upward strokes to the heart.
- 20 vigorous strokes on palms of hands.
- Twist and pull each finger.
- Circular strokes on wrists.
- Upward long strokes on forearms.
- Circular strokes on elbows.
- Upward strokes on arms.
- Circular strokes on shoulders.
- Vigorous circular strokes on front, back, and sides of head.
- Circular strokes on ears.
- Sweeping circular strokes on forehead, around the eyes, cheeks, and chin.
- Long DOWNWARD ONLY strokes on the front, back, and sides of neck.
- Reach back and stroke your back as best you can, sweeping around the heart.
- Finish with sweeping strokes from feet to heart, fingers to heart, and head to heart.
If time permits, garshana is followed by an abhyanga massage with an oil like our Lymphatic Massage Oil.
Remember to enjoy! Your lymph (and in turn, your whole body, mind, and spirit) will appreciate the love and attention.