face yoga wellness Feb 13, 2023
5 ways to aid lymphatic drainage with face yoga and gua sha

One of the reasons Face Yoga and Facial Gua Sha are so amazing for your skin is the effect they have on your lymphatic system. 

This is something I talk about regularly but I want to delve a little deeper in this post. I’m going to explain a bit more about the lymphatic system and what it does, show how working with lymphatic drainage benefits your health (and your skin), and give you some ideas for how you can use Face Yoga and Gua Sha to boost lymphatic drainage. 

This post is inspired by a conversation I had recently with Katie Blake over on the Face Yoga Expert Podcast. Katie is a familiar face to many of you – she’s one of the co-founders of the Facial Gua Sha Teacher Training Course, as well as one of the super-trainers for my Face Yoga Teacher Training.  

Katie is also a regular guest on the podcast and we always have such wonderful chats, with plenty of actionable insights you can use on your own skin. 

If you’d like to catch up with our full conversation, you can find the episode here. You can also find out more about Katie and see her demonstrate techniques over on Instagram.  

In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the lymphatic system and how we can use Face Yoga and Facial Gua Sha to boost lymphatic drainage. 


The lymphatic system is a complex network of tissues and organs that include the bone marrow, the thymus, the lymph nodes, the spleen, and the lymphatic tissue. It runs throughout your entire body. 

There are major lymph nodes under the armpits, in the neck, behind the knees, and in the groin area. We also have smaller lymph nodes dotted around the body. 

The lymphatic system helps to rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials. It transports the lymph – a fluid that contains infection-fighting white blood cells. So, it plays a vital role in our immune system. 

It’s a one-way system, always moving towards the heart. It’s important to know this because we need to understand how lymph moves in the body if we want to work with lymphatic drainage effectively! 

I feel like the importance of the lymphatic system is often overlooked. Working with lymphatic drainage not only helps with the removal of excess fluids and waste from the body’s tissues but also supports the absorption of fatty acids, the transport of fat into the circulatory system, and it’s important for the production of those immune cells as well. 

When it comes to your skin, working with lymphatic drainage brings all sorts of benefits. By encouraging excess fluid away from our faces and boosting the removal of toxins and waste, it helps our skin look brighter, clearer, and less puffy. 


When the lymphatic system isn’t flowing properly, it can cause a build-up of lymph. It also means that toxins and waste aren’t carried away as they should be. 

This can cause all sorts of issues. For our skin, it often shows up as puffiness, dark circles, bloating, dull skin tone, and even breakouts. In our bodies, we might notice immune issues, energy issues, aches and pains, emotional issues – so many things are affected by slow lymphatic drainage. 

Unlike the circulation system, which is driven by our hearts, there’s no pump to encourage the flow of lymph around our bodies. So, we need to give it a helping hand. 

There are many ways that we can encourage lymphatic drainage and stimulate the flow of lymph around the body. Face Yoga and facial Gua Sha are two that we’ll look at in more detail in just a moment. 

But we can also use the breath and our movement to encourage good lymphatic drainage. Walking is a brilliant example – and free too!  

I love to get out in nature every day. It has so many benefits for our physical and mental wellbeing and is one of my daily wellness non-negotiables (along with yoga and Face Yoga). 

But if going for a long walk isn’t accessible for you, even just a five-minute wander or gently walking around your own home will help with lymphatic drainage. Work to your own ability and do what is possible and sustainable for you. 

Yoga is another form of movement that can help with lymphatic drainage. Really, any option you enjoy for keeping your body active will do wonders for the lymphatic system. 

Both Katie and I also love body brushing, which is a beautiful way to wake up your skin and boost lymphatic drainage. I’m prone to cellulite, so body brushing is an essential part of my daily routine. I also keep a stainless-steel body Gua Sha tool in the shower – I have a video here with some tips on how to do Gua Sha for your body. 


Both Face Yoga and facial Gua Sha are fantastic for stimulating the lymphatic system and encouraging good drainage. They also complement each other beautifully, so you can use both together to increase the benefits for your skin. 

Here are some tips for using face yoga and facial Gua Sha for lymphatic drainage. 


Whenever I’m demonstrating Face Yoga techniques for lymphatic drainage, people always comment that it doesn’t feel like it is doing anything. 

That’s because we use a light, gentle touch when working with the lymphatic system. Almost as though we’re just brushing our fingertips over our skin. 

I think it is natural for people to assume we’ll get better results if we push harder and deeper. But the lymphatic system is located just beneath the skin. So, if we press too hard, we’re working down into the muscle and bone instead and it’s not going to do anything for lymphatic drainage. 

Make sure you keep your touch light when working on lymphatic drainage, even though it might feel as though it isn’t doing much! 


We looked earlier at how the lymphatic system is a one-way system. Lymph always moves towards the heart. So, when we’re working with lymphatic drainage, we want to make sure we’re encouraging the flow of lymph in the right direction. 

For example, we might use our hands or a Gua Sha tool to stroke down the neck and encourage lymph down away from the face. 

This is different from when we’re working on sculpting and lifting the muscles, when we want to work upwards and outwards. So, it can throw people off a bit that we’re suddenly working down instead! 

If you take the Facial Gua Sha Teacher Training course, you’ll learn a variety of techniques, including those that concentrate on lymphatic drainage and those we use to lift and sculpt the face. 

You don’t need to limit yourself to one or the other – you can do both lymphatic drainage and lifting in one Gua Sha routine. We usually advise starting with lymphatic drainage techniques to move toxins and excess fluid away from the face before you turn your attention to lifting and sculpting the muscles. 

If you’re doing a longer routine, we also suggest doing a series of warm-up techniques first to wake up the muscles – just as you would if you went to the gym. Those enrolled on the Facial Gua Sha Teacher Training course learn both a warm-up and cool-down routine to use at the beginning and end of a Gua Sha class. 


If you have time to do a longer facial Gua Sha or face yoga routine, that’s great! But I know that many of you, like me, have busy lives with lots of things to juggle. So, the good news is that you’ll still see benefits if you can only manage a minute or two a day. 

The most important thing is to be consistent. Even just a minute a day soon builds up if you manage it every day. And once you start to see the benefits, you might find it inspires you to find time for a longer session now and then too. 

So, if you don’t have time to do a full Gua Sha routine with a warm-up and a cool-down, consider just spending sixty seconds or so concentrating on stimulating lymphatic drainage and see what effects it has on your skin. 


Katie and I tend to concentrate on techniques for the face because it is the area both of us are most expert in. But the lymphatic system is obviously connected throughout your entire body, so you might want to take your practice beyond the face. 

For example, Katie suggests continuing down the neck and across the chest to the armpits, where we have some of the major lymph nodes. Many people find that the area under their arms becomes a bit swollen if their lymphatic system isn’t draining effectively. 

So, you could use your Gua Sha tool to stroke down your neck, then come out across your chest towards the armpits, doing one side at a time. Then, use your hand to gently squeeze under your arm, stimulating drainage in this area. 


I mentioned earlier that you can see benefits from even just a minute a day of Gua Sha. To help you get started, Katie suggests this quick and easy Gua Sha routine. 

Start by gently going down the neck, aiming for six times on either side. Don’t go over the throat. 

Work with upward, outward strokes along the jawline, across the cheeks, and across the forehead. Do six strokes on each side for each area. 

You’ve done a minute! This short routine will boost lymphatic drainage and increase blood circulation.  

It won’t be as deep as therapy as if you did a full sixty-minute facial workout. But a minute every day builds up and you soon start to see the benefits. You’ll notice your skin looks more hydrated, brighter, more even in tone, and with less visible lines and wrinkles. 


I hope this has been a useful introduction to the lymphatic system and how we can use Gua Sha and face yoga to boost drainage.  

This is a topic we dive into in more depth in the Facial Gua Sha Teacher Training course, so do check that out if you’d like to learn more!