Gua Sha: Facial Massage
Letting Go & Toning Up!
A Brief History
Gua Sha may be the latest trend in skincare circles, but it’s certainly nothing new.
In fact, the use of curved stones as massage or to support ailments dates back to the Paleolithic Age, aka really old! Skip forward a few centuries and there are many historical records from the Ming Dynasty in China detailing the use of Gua Sha for medicinal purposes in the 14th century.
Oooh I love it when we start with a bit of history!!
What are the Benefits?
So, we’ve established Gua Sha has been around a while, if you’re not au fait with what it is, here’s a very quick guide. To translate the words: "Gua means 'scrape' and Sha means 'petechiae' (tiny, flat red, purple spots) in Chinese." The goal is to use the curved tools to invigorate blood flow, release heat toxins, stimulate lymphatic drainage, activate various points of the body, and bring helpful cells to the area by stimulating an immune response. Similar to other practices rooted in Eastern philosophy is the idea that “qi or chi, is energy that flows through the body, and this qi must be balanced and flowing freely to ensure our health and wellbeing. Using Gua Sha has a host of benefits, such as reducing migraine pain, lessening the symptoms of perimenopause, reducing inflammatory symptoms, and reducing anxiety,
When it comes to the face, most people see the primary benefit as lymphatic drainage, this isn’t the sexiest part of the blog… given that’s the body’s waste system. The lymphatic system circulates lymph fluid when our muscles move and contract. Now unless you’re a mime or an opera singer, chances are you don’t use your facial muscles that much… making Gua Sha an effective way to move the lymph through the body, giving you a lovely toned appearance.
Right that’s the history and the science bit ticked off, let’s talk about the experience.
The Gua Sha Experience
In my tireless (there’s a joke in there somewhere) pursuit of relaxation, I wanted to try a soothing facial treatment. When I’ve had facials previously, they usually revolve around product after product being applied to the skin until I’m more glazed than a Crispy Kreme doughnut. This was different.
The treatment began with a gentle cleanse, being the skincare nerd that I am, I had pre-empted this and had already cleansed at home so I was lovely and clean and ready to be relaxed! The therapist Dorina explained she would use a range of skincare tools, alongside her hands to provide a gentle massage to my face, neck and décolletage. I was asked to inhale deeply as she used essential oil in the diffuser to support relaxation and begin the calming process. She applied Avocado Oil which has quite a neutral scent but provides deep nourishment and is non-irritating. Whilst essential oils can be lovely, they can be aggravating when applied to the skin so it’s always best to use a more neutral oil.
And aaaahhh it was so nice.
Relishing the Relaxation
Dorina varied the pressure and techniques, some felt more energising and some relaxing. The contrast between the Jade and Quartz tools which were so cool and refreshing and her hands which were warm was so enjoyable. I was delighted that I managed to enter a deeply relaxing state after what I estimated was about 10 minutes.
Similar to what I feel in Reiki, my practicing is paying off!. I know it sounds odd to say I have to practice “relaxing” but I do! It’s not a natural state for me. A topic we’ve discussed in other blogs, mechanisms in the body that exist to protect us, can also keep us in a state of stress and anxiety that are hard to curtail.
This is a great way to understand it. “The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems act like the accelerator and brakes on a car. The sympathetic system is the accelerator, always ready to rev up and take us out of danger. The parasympathetic system is the brakes, slowing us down when danger isn’t present.”
For me, this relaxation can be described in these simple terms.
Heavy body, light mind.
When I enter the deep relaxation state, whether it’s through Reiki, Yoga Nidra, Body Scans and Meditation or certain types of massage, my body will feel like a lead weight. Completely rooted into the bed or ground. I might have a lingering patch of discontent somewhere, during the Gua Sha treatment my right knee kept tensing up and I was having to consciously release it…. But overall, my body is heavy and in a relaxed state.
Now my mind…. How to describe this. I think I am still aware of what’s going on around me, I can hear a car horn, or birds, my mind isn’t blank but there’s a lightness of being. Of course, thoughts drift in and out, but I can let them do that, drift out. I’m not attached. And this is why for me, the proper relaxation doesn’t really come from being on the sofa watching TV, it needs to be something I really dedicate time to and let go fully.
Back to my facial…. The time flew by and my skin was absolutely glowing. I haven’t had any breakouts (though this can be a side effect) but my skin definitely looks plumper and healthy.
This is a treatment I will 100% re-book. A brilliant way to unwind and I’m excited to add this to my relaxation routine!
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