I am a super low-maintenance girl. My husband is always surprised at how quickly I can get ready in the mornings if needed. He says he forgets that I perform quick costume changes for a living. But I certainly prefer not spending any longer getting ready when I could be um…. sleeping more.
So what is one thing a busy girl will make allowances to spend an extra 5 minutes getting ready in the morning?
One morning addition that actually wakes you up, boosts circulation, improves mood and literally gets your skin tingling that’s really worth an getting out of bed 5 minutes earlier?
Being a professional ballerina means a bit too much time staring into the mirror. We use them as tools to correct, add precision and gain immediate feedback on alignment. We also sit out our dressing room mirrors before each show, participating in a unique often therapeutic pre-show ritual of hair and make up.
It’s safe to say that outside of these times, I don’t want to be in front of a mirror. But for dry body brushing, I will make allowances to really jumpstart my day.
Just under our skin, lies our lymphatic system which is like a pump system that deals with transporting waste around the body so it can be removed from the body. The lymphatic system plays a vital role in elimination, helping to move toxins through the body. It also contributes to the strength of the body’s immune system by producing certain white blood cells and generating antibodies.
The lymphatic system acts as a little transportation system and unless we are actively pumping blood around the body through movement or exercise, it doesn’t get a chance to move things around. The lymph system does not rely on an automatic pump like the circulatory system that moves blood around the body – it needs us to help move the lymph fluid through movement or in this case stimulation though the skin.
The lymphatic system works alongside the lungs, kidneys, bowels and the ‘ultimate filter’ the liver to get rid of these waste products. This is where dry body brushing comes in handy.
Benefits of dry body brushing
- Stimulates the flow of lymph fluid throughout the body
- Removes dead layers of skin and other outer impurities
- Stimulates and increases blood circulation
- Helps release fatty deposits under your skin’s surface
- Assists the eliminative capacity of your body’s organs
- Rejuvenates your cells and improves skin texture
- Strengthens your immune system
- Increases muscle tone and reduces appearance of cellulite
All you need is a long handled natural bristled dry body brush that you can pick up easily from chemists, some supermarkets, The Body Shop, online from Biome, The Natural Chemist, Nourished Life or a local natural health store. The natural fibres are firm enough to be stimulating to the skin but soft enough for even sensitive skin. Avoid synthetic brushes which can damage the skin and take extra care to avoid areas of broken skin or sunburn!
So how does it work?
- Begin brushing your body from the feet up, in circular motions, always being mindful of brushing in the direction of the heart which stimulates circulation.
- Pay particular attention to the thigh and derriere regions which can always do with a bit of extra circulation!
- Use circular motions on your tummy moving from your right side, up, to the left and down etc which gently stimulates peristalsis, the natural muscular contractions of the bowel.
- Move super gently over sensitive breast tissue, avoiding the nipple area entirely.
- Start at the hands and work up your arms and use the long handle to brush your back – a little tricky but still possible. Remember circular motion
- Always shower after you dry brush to wash off the dead skin cells and routinely wash your body brush as well.
You will most likely be buzzing by this point, and probably quietly amazed at how simple this works on increasing circulation – like an espresso shot for the skin and lymph system – fresh blood bringing nutrients and getting rid of waste products means cells that are regenerating effectively. Cue – healthy, glowing skin.
Dry body brushing can also help the appearance of cellulite particularly, cellulite being a completely normal occurrence of how fat sits in our connective tissue. Again, it’s not something I get too stressed about – we all have it and it does not define us. Even professional ballerinas have cellulite and we exercise frequently. True. No big deal.
Cellulite is not a personality trait so don’t let it inform your personality.
Beyond the physical though, this gentle but energising practice forms a really beautiful part of my self-care toolkit. By taking the time to energise my body, pay it attention brush by brush, I also have the opportunity to express gratitude for being healthy, for having a fit and able body, for all my imperfections and for all my body allows me to achieve.
Having a healthy body image is something we all struggle with at times – men and women alike, and particularly dancers who spend too much time in front of mirrors. My own struggles to be comfortable and appreciative of the skin I’m in, have been very real. Too real. And there are still days where the ‘body image baddies’ come to play.
Dry body brushing connects me to something beyond the image of my body. It connects me to how I feel: to feeling alive and literally buzzing; how grateful I am to be blessed with the body I have; and being conscious of treating myself with a bit more than the nasty self-criticisms that come all too easily sometimes.
I go through periods without body brushing, but it is always a balancing point that I always come back to. Sometimes, all it takes is an awareness of gratitude to set or change the tone of your day. Do something blissful for yourself and indulge in their benefits holistically beyond the physical.
Try a healthy dose of self-love and self-compassion with your body brushing.