Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dry Brushing

So I've got this knee thing going on. It's not as bad as I was afraid of, but we'll see how long I feel that way. My mom, who knows me pretty well,* says that I will be fine for about a month and then will be impatient. She used the word impatient; we both know that means irritable, verging on pissed-off. 

As for now, I am basking in a glow that makes me wonder if I could become a hypochondriac. 

I have gotten an inpouring of messages from teachers concerned about my physical and mental well-being. One teacher in particular, (Love you, lady!) wrote me despite being thousands of miles away and not having taught me for a year. She's not the only out-of-state sympathizer with a wealth of knowledge either. Captain obvious, I know, but yoga people are really friggin' warmhearted. 

Through this outpouring I have learned about this neat thing, "dry brushing." It sounds ridiculously benign, and it is.  You can not possibly imagine results from this, which is when I usually label things, "new-age foof," try it for a week, and then forget about it. 

Par for the course, I made my investment in the $10 brush, figured, "screw it, can't hurt" (I learn a lot of great stuff with that attitude) and brushed the bare skin on my leg. Officially a dry-brusher, I started casually discussing my new 'foofy' habit with some of my friends. Surprisingly, I discovered my 'foof' is mainstream! 

One friend (not a yogi) has pretty bum knees and has been dry-brushing for ages post knee-surgery. The fact that traditional doctors recommended this gave it major points for me. I share this story with another friend and she compares it to treatments she got when she was in high-school for her injuries related to softball. I share the story again and The Boy (the most scientifically critical person I know) tells me that he knew someone who used dry-brushing on developmentally challenged youngsters with amazing results. Now I'm so excited about it that I'm about to buy a dry-brush for a friend with a seriously effed up arm. 

I have become a dry-brush pusher.

I had asked the original suggester of the dry-brush how one goes about this task. He said, "Buy a dry-brush. Brush." Nice one, smart-ass. But yeah, he's right. If you want to stop reading here and run out to get your brush to start -- you have been given the green light. 

My beloved and I share a moment.

For those of you as detail-oriented (read: anal-retentive) as I am, here are some further details. 
  1. Go to the Whole Foods aisle with all the pills and supplements. 
  2. Request a "dry brush." They will hand you a long-handled brush that resembles a bath brush. The bristles are stiff, made from the roots of the agave plant. Some of you might be familiar with the plant because of its sugar-alternative that doesn't spike blood glucose the way cane-sugar does. I prefer to tip my hat to this plant for its gift of tequila. 
  3. Preferably before a shower,** stroke the bare skin on your arms, legs, then torso, gently with the brush. Use long strokes. I have heard it said that you should go away from your heart. I have also heard it doesn't matter. I choose to believe that it doesn't matter. 

And there you have it. Don't get over-zealous with it and brush till you bleed. I always feel a little tingly afterward, which makes sense because the intent is to encourage circulation. Circulation is good because oxygen, yada-yada, flushing out scar tissue, yada-yada, white blood cells, yada-yada. You get the idea. Good stuff. 

For more experienced dry-brushers (anyone who has done this for more than a week qualifies) I do have a few questions that I would love answers to in comments or email. 
  1. Is there an amount of time, or number of strokes that is optimal. I usually go for roughly 15 strokes or so. Too many more and I think it would hurt rather than soothe. 
  2. What is the heart-direction thing? Why would it matter?
  3. Anything to add?

* Massive understatement. She can probably tell you what color socks Im wearing right now. From two states away. 
** I don't know why, but I have been told this repeatedly, even by the friend coached by traditional doctors. I take my showers at yoga most days so I ignore this and just do it before bed. 


  1. Wow, you are thorough.

    I think I've read about a dry brushing massage -- makes sense.

    The picture of you and your beloved is quite funny...

  2. HAHA! Yeah. "Thorough." I've come to terms with how persnickety, detail-oriented, type-A, anal-retentive, I am. Thanks for your comment about my drawing -- I love making them and it's great to hear when people enjoy them too.

  3. I've neve heard of this. Thanks for sharing! And wait - you DREW that picture?? Wow, you are talented!

    1. Awww, shucks! Thanks, Liat! All illustration and writing is me, Im a stickler for artists' rights so I do all my own. Let me know how the dry brushing goes if you try it!

  4. I love dry brushing! I did it for a while and then forgot about it, but you have inspired me to dig it out again. I think the pre-shower thing is just to wash off any dead skin or toxins that might be released. It feels great, and since I have super dry skin, it was the only thing that got rid of my charming "lizard legs" And yes, your illustrations are un-freaking-believable. :)

    1. Ah! Another unforeseen bonus! I have horribly dry skin (my love/hate relationship with Bikram's heat/humidity extends to the fact that it helps my eczema better than any prescription ever did). Thanks for explaining the shower thing, it makes a lot of sense; I may even start trying to do it before my am rinse-off.
      Thanks for the drawing kudos too. :) (SQUEEE! People like them! Hooray!)