Getting started with Gua Sha by Marie Wheelwright.

A few years ago, I began hearing two mysterious and intriguing new words in various wellness settings: Gua Sha. These words resonated deeply and seemed to reside for a while at the edges of my consciousness and keep popping up, as though the universe was giving playful little nudges, wanting me to explore their meaning further. I hadn’t the foggiest what Gua Sha was, but after I’d heard it referred to as “Eastern Botox,” I was intrigued. I’m glad I did take the hint and endeavour to find out more, as facial Gua Sha is now one of the most beneficial parts of my self-care routine and my work with clients. I really couldn’t live without it.

After my 1- 5 minute daily Gua Sha treatment, I feel refreshed and ready to face the day. My skin tone is better than it has been my entire life. I have seen the bags under my eyes disappear and wrinkles smooth out. Although I still have lines on my forehead, (which, being prone to worry, I’ve had since my mid-twenties), they are definitely finer and no longer bother me. I no longer worry about them getting any deeper because my forehead feels more relaxed overall. I’ve noticed, as I’m performing the Gua Sha treatment, that the side of my face which I have worked on looks visibly more lifted than the side that I haven’t. This temporary lop-sidedness never ceases to amaze me. It occurs because the Gua Sha technique is one of the best things you can do for lymphatic drainage, which gets rid of puffiness and bloating and has a profound effect on how sculpted and lifted the face looks.

It really is quite amazing. And because it is so amazing, Gua Sha is everywhere, and you probably will have heard all about it by now. You might have explored the myriad You Tube instructional videos, and might even have a pretty, rose quartz crystal Gua Sha tool sitting in your bathroom cabinet, perhaps gathering dust. You will probably have heard the hype about Gua Sha’s amazing results, from wrinkle elimination to facial sculpting. But you might not have a clue how to incorporate it into your own self-care routine.

Gua Sha is both simple to learn yet at the same time, can be quite confusing, due to the sheer mass of online content on the subject, which can also be sometimes conflicting. Some of the claims made online about its benefits might seem a little far fetched or too good to be true. As a therapist, I love that Gua Sha is both simple and yet amazingly complex; far, far more than the latest Tik Tok craze. It’s an entire branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine in and of itself. Possibly it predates even TCM, with roots all the way back in the stone age. And so, it’s ancient. And sort of sacred.

Just imagine, Gua Sha techniques have been used by generation after generation, passed down through the ages, over thousands and thousands of years. How powerful and magical is that? But all this gets a little overwhelming and could prevent someone from ever really getting to grips with it. Which is a shame, because learning how to incorporate Gua Sha into your facial self-care routine is one of the best gifts anyone can ever give themselves.

Facial Gua Sha is most powerful in the hands of a therapist trained in acupressure, who understands the energy lines of the body, the meridians, many of which end in the face, making for an effective treatment of the entire system. The large intestine points end at the side of the nose, the stomach in two lines across the cheek area, the bladder over the top of the head. Gliding the stone across the correct areas of the face is a tonic for every one of the organs of the body. I trained in acupressure as part of my Advanced Massage Diploma and was trained in facial Gua Sha by Ziggy Berman herself, founder of the Zone Lift Face Massage. This method uses a powerful combination of facial reflexology and Gua Sha over the energy lines of the face.

You do get an awful lot for your money with Gua Sha. After the initial outlay for the crystal tool, a decent serum and some training in technique, at home Gua Sha is pretty much free. Online tutorials do go some of the way to showing you correct technique and make for a great introduction, but please bear in mind that one of the biggest mistake newbies make is in applying far too much pressure. It’s easy to imagine that more pressure equals better results, but that really isn’t the case. It just drags the delicate skin of the face. Gua Sha translates as “scratch sand” in full body applications: the small, flat stone rubs vigorously over an area of the body, and creates a raised, red, bumpy rash - the “Sha” caused by toxins rising to the surface for elimination. But facial Gua Sha should be way, way gentler, kinder and softer. The aim is never to create “Sha". Facial Gua Sha works primarily by moving subtle energies: the lymph glands reside directly under the skin, and so a light pressure is best, done with mindful concentration.

Another thing that might be stopping you from ever getting started is the time commitment. Many of the YouTube videos are over 20 minutes long and who has that amount of time every morning? There is no need to make huge sacrifices with your time though. Just a minute a day of Gua Sha with correct technique goes an awfully long way. Less than the time taken to brush your teeth.

One way to know if the pressure and technique you are using is correct is to book in for a Zone Face Lift massage treatment and let me show you. Another way is to look inward whilst practising. Does it feel as though your entire body melts as you glide the cool stone across your face? If so, the pressure is just fine.

If you would like me to help you get started on your Gua Sha journey, first, dust off that lovely Gua sha tool you’ve got hanging around and cleanse it in warm salt water, smudge it with sage, or put it outside in a cool pool of the silver light of the full moon. This charges the stone. Set the intent to make Gua Sha part of your powerful, self-care ritual and visualise what you would most like to achieve from it. If this is a step too far for you, simply wash the crystal well in soap and water. If you don’t already have a Gua Sha tool, they are now available through the Wellness Space.

So if you would like to get started, or to hone your existing technique, I invite you to book a Zone Lift session or enrol on a course of my Face Yoga workshops. If you just want to lay back and relax and experience the benefits of Gua Sha but not necessarily incorporate it into an at home routine, booking a Zone Lift Face Massage is a great place to start. To get you started with Gua Sha at home, I teach a powerful combination of Face Yoga Method and Gua Sha techniques at my Face Yoga workshops. I sincerely hope you will come along because I know exactly what Gua Sha can do for you. I would never in good conscience try to sell or teach anything I didn’t completely believe in, or use myself. I use Gua Sha every day, and on clients every chance I get, and I have witnessed the most profound results from it.

I would be honoured to be your guide on your Gua Sha journey.

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