Your home gua sha practice
Manipulating the fascia and encouraging lymphatic flow are by far the most important steps in skin health, reducing stress and tension.
Your chest + shoulders are the soil
Your neck is the stem + roots
Your face is the flower
Tech neck, stress, prolonged sitting and standing postures decrease flow to your face and postural musculature and lymphatics. Bringing improved blood flow + focusing on lymphatic drainage patterns can facilitate a more natural glow, working from the inside out, not only focusing on the products used on the skin to make a change and offer yourself the opportunity to care for yourself and be present in a new way.
There are 3 primary techniques to either blend together or independently choose to focus on for your own unique goals:
Lymphatic focus: overall wellness, relaxation, under eye puffiness, ear clogging, sinus, general drainage
Musculature/fascia focus: softening tension patterns around the jaw, forehead, neck and upper chest
Acupressure focus: overall wellness, relaxation, a focus on specific points that correspond to major joints, organs, and emotions of the body.
The lymphatic system
The lymphatic system is a specialized part of the circulatory system that is responsible for waste disposal and immune response. It transports fluid from around the cells through a system of filters and carries large molecules such as proteins, lipids, bacteria and other debris.
The head and neck contain more than 300 lymph nodes!
The lymphatic system spreads through the entire tissue structure of the body in a one-way drainage network of vessels, ducts, nodes, lacteals, and lymphoid organs such as the spleen, tonsils, and thymus. Valves in the vessels prevent back flow of lymph.
ALL of the body's lymph vessels converge into two main channels, the 1. thoracic duct and the 2. right lymphatic duct.
Lymphatic drainage of the face and head originate at the base of the skull. Vessels from the entire left side of the body and from the right side of the body below the chest drain into the thoracic duct which empties into the left subclavian vein, situated under the left clavicle (collar bone). *This is why I begin the focus of your gua sha session from the base of the neck to the base of the skull and then focus on the left shoulder, neck, and chest to facilitate an opening and drainage to the primary channel.
The right lymphatic duct collects lymph from the vessels on the right side of the head, neck, upper chest and right arm only. It empties into the right subclavian vein beneath the right clavicle.
Waste products are then carried by the bloodstream to the spleen, intestine, and kidneys for detoxification.
PRESSURE: The greater the edema or swelling, the lighter the pressure. The pressure for lymphatic focus should be just enough to move the skin. Lymphatics are mostly located in the superficial tissues, in the outer 0.3mm of the skin! Surface edema occurs in those superficial tissues, not in the deep tissue. Moving the skin moves the lymphatics. Stretching the lymphatics stimulates the vessels to contract. In areas of tension you may focus on the musculature first to relax the muscles which helps the lymph vessels to open and drain.
Massage strokes are repeated slowly in an area of swelling, spending up to 10 minutes in each region.
We have 42 individual muscles in the face! You may have specific jaw tension, forehead tension, or base of the the neck tension. Remember that the delicate nature of the facial skin and musculature requires a confident yet gentle touch.
The face has extensive motor and sensory sensitivity. Massage and gua sha can stimulate a large amount of nervous system activity that may be beneficial for overall relaxation and pain management.
The facial muscles create the expressions that reflect our moods and emotional centers of the brain.
I offer specific techniques with your gua sha tool for tension patterns that we may find in your appointment. As you become more comfortable with your tool, you may try each edge of the tool in a region of tension to see which feels best. Alternating techniques or edges of the tool may offer a better release in the musculature.
PRESSURE: moderate, slow, intentional repetitive strokes and holds with the tool along the muscle
The gua sha routine below can be performed daily for general relaxation and wellness.
If your goal is to make gua sha a more regular wellness practice, I recommend taking pics before and after, of your face including the neck and chest to note postural changes. This can offer visual feedback on shifts that are happening but more importantly have awareness with how you are feeling before and after each practice.
Cleanse your face head and neck then apply your medium (your favorite face moisturizer, serum or jojoba). Using a mirror for your practice will help you tune into technique.
The pocket jade gua sha with ridges + the jade comb for face and body have unique shapes and textures along the sides. Explore how the tool feels on your face and body. Thisis the best way to become comfortable with what works and feels good for you!
Tips: slow down and lighten the glide. As you get used to using the tool connect with how different speeds feel. Facial gua sha should not be deep or aggressive. Use light to moderate pressure.
If you are using the tool for jaw or neck tension, perform detailed or deeper work every 3 days - not daily, so the tissue has time to recover. Overworking an area of tension can cause inflammation or pain.
Some days may naturally be a faster routine because of time restraints, but connecting with a 10 - 15 minute routine is an ideal daily offering for yourself. It will become more natural and your awareness will improve with what is happening with the tissue, tension, and how to problem solve.
Getting a number of "swipes" in your mind for each region for the general daily routine. 10 - 15 passes for each stroke on days that you have more time 3 - 5 passes in each region on days that you feel you have less time, 30 - 45 passes for an extra long at home session!
Clean your tool with soap and water after each use or use a rubbing alcohol or witch hazel to remove oils.
With the under eye lymphatic stretch and release technique: You can perform 5 - 10 pumps under each eye and spend 5 - 10 minutes under each eye for maximum results, remembering to clear the neck first and add in a couple of the sweeping techniques towards the ear and down the cheek to the neck for drainage. (If you are not an in person client of mine and I haven't shown you this technique and need more guidance, please reach out!
I'm available for problem solving and can send technique videos if you need assistance.