Two At-home Postpartum Rituals to Speed Up Your Postpartum Healing
Body Brushing and Oiling To Revitalize and Nourish
When I learned about body oiling and brushing as part of an Ayurvedic approach to the postpartum period, I put them to use in my weeks, months (and now, even years) after my second baby. I knew I had found two very simple practices that would become a foundation in my self-care. They feel amazing and oh-so grounding.
First, let’s talk about what these practices are how they help. Some days I do both–maybe one in the AM and the other in the PM. Some days I just do one.
This is a practice you may want to do daily during the first four weeks postpartum. Then, incorporate it weekly or as desired for the rest of your first year and beyond.
What is Body Brushing?
Body brushing is a practice that has been around for centuries–dating back as far as the Greeks. It’s practiced around the world in many cultures, and we want to teach you about this incredible practice because (like belly wrapping) it has SO many good benefits for our bodies, it’s free (once you buy the brush for a few bucks), and it’s quick and easy to do for a busy mom who also wants to keep herself feeling great.
In traditional Ayurveda, it’s done as a daily morning routine practice before bathing to stimulate the circulatory ssytem. But even if you do this once a week, there are benefits to be enjoyed!
Briefly, body brushing, or “dry brushing” as it’s often called, is brushing your skin with a brush specifically designed to be used dry on skin before bathing to help the body and skin in numerous ways.
A dry brush looks like the photo above.
You can get them with short handles, long handles, no handles/knobs. The important thing is the bristles. Make sure they are made of natural fibers, not synthetic. At first, they may feel a little stiff and scratchy. But start lightly, and with practice you’ll come to enjoy the simulation, detoxifcation and exfoliation that dry brushing provides.
*Note: Dry brushing is not a replacement for medical treatment and should not be used on rashes, eczema or extra dry skin. Consult your doctor for medical treatments.
Benefits of Dry Body Brushing Postpartum (and beyond!)
Detoxification. Your skin is your biggest organ, so it’s imperative that we keep it healthy. Not only do we sweat and detox through our skin, but our skin plays a role in digestion and circulation. Dry brushing will clear away dead skin cells, stimulate the skin’s outermost layer and remove toxins that may have accumulated or become trapped in the skin. When you brush regularly, your skin is able to breathe and sweat freely.
Slow the aging process. With daily light stimulation of the entire body’s skin, dead cells are removed and new cell production is stimulated. Dry brushing over time is said to slow the aging process because it keeps your skin supple and actively renewing.
Super soft skin. Perhaps it goes without saying that when you stimulate and help your skin rejuvenate, it’s naturally going to be much softer!
Reduce cellulite. When you dry brush in short sweeping motions (as we’ll demonstrate in the next video), fatty deposits under the skin, which can create the dimpled appearance of cellulite, are re-distributed. With daily dry brushing over a few weeks, it’s common to see a reduction in the appearance of cellulite.
Supports alleviation of muscle tension. The motions of dry brushing are known to help stimulate the muscles and tissues closer to the surface of the skin, helping to release tension and increase tone.
Increase lymphatic circulation. The nodes/glands of the lymphatic system lie close to the skin’s surface, so brushing in the direction of lymphatic drainage (as demonstrated in the video) can support healthy circulation and immunity.
Increase relaxation and connection with your body. Taking care of your skin on your body is a very grounding practice that can expand your awareness of your beauty to include your whole body. Most beauty products and beauty routines focus solely on the face. Give yourself the pleasure of this practice to love your entire body as one miraculous whole.
Ready to learn how to Dry-Brush? Check out the video here!
The second practice that pairs with body brushing is body oiling.
What is Body Oiling?
Body oiling, (abhyanga) is an Ayurvedic practice of massaging the entire body with large amounts of warm oil. Isn’t just the sound of that heavenly? It truly is, and I’m excited to teach you about it. Even though in traditional Ayurveda, body oiling is applied by someone else, it’s a practice that can be done with equal benefit to yourself in the privacy and comfort of your home.
How is Body Oiling done?
The oils most commonly used are sesame, almond, coconut, sunflower or jojoba oil.
To do a self-massage:
- Warm up the oil. Draw some warm water into the sink or a bowl. Place your jar of oil into the water to warm up. It should not feel hot.
- Sit or stand in a warm room. You may want to place an old towel under your feet in case you drip oil. Plus, it’s more enjoyable to stand on a soft surface.
- Starting from the extremities, work slowly inward toward the heart. Be generous with the amount of oil. Spend as much time as you’d like massaging the oil into your skin.
- Wrap yourself up in an old bathrobe or towel and sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes
- Allow the oil to penetrate and focus on the warm, grounding and nourishing effects of the oil
- Get into the bath or shower, but do not use soap except perhaps on the “important” areas, so as to let the warm water open the pores and allow the oil to be further absorbed.
- When you are done with your shower, dry off by blotting the skin gently.
Benefits of Body Oiling
The benefits of body oiling are the same as skin brushing, with two additional benefits:
Calms the nerves. The positive effects of your body being warm and oily can be felt almost immediately. Your nervous system gets a rest and is nourished by the soothing effect of the oil.
Stimulates digestion. Your body will naturally absorb the oil through your skin and deliver the healthy oil molecules to your organs where moist and oily are most welcome–in the digestive tract.
Supports better sleep. Getting your body warm, calm and nourished sends the message to your entire body that rest and restore is allowed and welcomed.
Incorporate both body brushing and body oiling into your daily and weekly routine to turn it into a ritual that supports you at the cellular level. And what better way than to have practices that are so simple and effective that you can do at home for yourself.
As we see it all of these benefits are “built in” to this power-pair of practices – to get these same results you would have to:
get a massage (1 hr)
get a body scrub (1 hr)
invest in products that moisturize your skin ($$$)
spent at least 30 minutes in a yoga practice and in savasana
soak in the bath for 30 minutes
find another form of detox practice (sit in a steam room / sauna 3x / week)
use topical products to make your skin glow, cellulite creams, visine to brighten your eyes
Ready to try it out? Watch the video here!
Based on the results you can get at home with these two self-care practices, it’s worth spending a few minutes each day to incorporate them into your routine.
Give these a try and let us know in the comments what you like most about them!