Facial Gua Sha has been a sought-after beauty treatment for a while now, but since the rise in popularity of massage and its benefits in the west this holistic trend has begun its journey south, catering to the rest of the body.
What is Gua Sha?
Literally meaning ‘to scrape’, the roots of gua sha are based in ancient traditional Chinese medicine and so this is not a new invention but is gaining more attention from the masses of late. Specially shaped flat stones are applied to the face in sweeping motions to release tension and detoxify the skin from within; the muscles, skin and fascia are all manipulated releasing build up in the lymph nodes, and allowing the ‘chi’ to flow freely again. If your energy flow has become blocked this can cause pain or tension in the muscles and joints. Gua sha aims to move this blocked energy to relieve aches or stiffness. Traditional East Asian medicine also views blood stasis or stagnation as a cause of pain and illness. Another aim of gua sha is to move pooled or stagnated blood to relieve symptoms. It also increases the blood flow to the surface providing tighter-feeling glowing skin.
Body gua sha is really a combination of gua sha and massage applied to the whole body. Traditionally people experience bruising and redness to the skin when undergoing this treatment and so this may have prevented it from being favoured in the past, yet now due to the increased attention received by the facial version people are more trusting and aware of the concept and its benefits. When applying the pressure to yourself it is doubtful you will manage to develop such intense bruising, this occurs more during a professional treatment, so the home, DIY version is far more gentle.
The benefits of Gua Sha
Aids immunity – Stimulation of the lymph nodes re-charges the body’s natural defence system and reduces inflammation.
Improves circulation – the increased blood flow caused by the movements and pressure applied in this therapy improves our circulation which has knock-on positive effects throughout the body.
Aids sleep – Massage therapy is known to boost mood and promote better quality sleep due to your now looser more relaxed muscles, thus making you feel more rested and less worn-out at the end of the day.
Reduces cellulite – albeit a temporary measure, the increased blood flow at the surface gives the skin a smoother appearance.
Aids relaxation – Any massage will encourage relaxation and boost your mood.
Reduces toxins – Stimulating the soft tissues of your body will help to release toxins through your blood and lymphatic systems.
Relieves tension, stress and anxiety – just the act of massaging oneself and taking a moment to care for your body can have an amazing calming effect. However it is well documented that regular massage therapy can reduce stress and tension as it helps to release endorphins in your body, helping you to feel happy, energised, and at ease.
What you need to practice gua sha at home
You’ll find a plethora of different body tools available online made using stones, crystals and metals such as rose quartz or stainless steel, for example, which are shaped into either a long curved appliance (for the neck, shoulders and legs) or a triangular shaped version for the rest of the body. With these you can apply the correct pressure and motion to achieve the gua sha effects. To create the smooth wave-like sweeps you need to apply an oil to the skin. Choose your favourite essential oil based aromas depending on the moment; lavender for example will help with relaxation, citrus will aid in raising the spirits.
For all areas first apply your chosen oil to the skin, apply freely.
Neck: Begin at the hairline behind the ear and press-stroke your tool downwards towards the shoulder, as you continue gradually move around to the nape of the neck. Repeat the motion as many times as you feel comfortable, usually no more than twenty in one area.
Chest: Using the curved edge of your tool begin in the centre of the chest and work your way outward applying as much pressure as you feel appropriate. Press and stroke the skin in this way alternating sides and repeating on each up to twenty times, or for as long as you feel comfortable; this may change over time.
Back: Begin at the small of the back and apply pressure with the curved edge of your tool facing downwards towards the hips. Repeat as before.
Legs: Begin at the ankle and pressure stroke upwards as far as the knee rotating clockwise to start each movement, a similar rhythm to shaving your legs; begin at one point and work your way around the leg. Repeat this system for the thigh area.
As you practice gua sha you may notice some redness to the skin which is normal, temporary and will fade rapidly.
Add this to your daily routine, it only takes around ten minutes, and I’m sure you’ll feel the benefits from the improved circulation, reduced stress, or at the very least from the simple act of spending some time on yourself and giving your body some attention!
Online distance learning diploma courses in Holistic Massage Therapy
Here at the School of Natural Health Sciences Holistic Massage Therapy is one of our most popular courses. You might think how is it possible to learn holistic massage therapy from an online course – what about the practical side of things? Our course material includes instructional massage videos, which demonstrate all the practical massage techniques you need to know, presented by a Professional Therapist. A Practitioner/Therapist Level Qualification is awarded on successful completion of this course.