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Shantala - the art of baby massage

Shantala is an ancient massage technique for babies. Originally from the Ayurvedic massage, it is very common in eastern culture, mainly India.

     The technique consists of slow and harmonic movements along the baby’s body, allowing not only for the baby to relax, but to also provide many other benefits for the baby and mom/dad/caregiver as well.

The massage emerged so long ago that we can’t be sure when it was invented. What is known is that the massage was passed down from mother to daughter through the generations, and it is still normal to walk in the streets of India and see moms massaging their babies. That’s exactly what happened to Frederick Leboyer and, thanks to that, we had the opportunity to learn about this wonderful technique.

       Frederick Leboyer is a French obstetrician, famous for his book ‘Birth Without Violence’, which completely changed the idea of how to give birth. He went on a trip to India, and walking in the streets of Pilkhama, a mom massaging her baby grabbed his attention. He was so amazed by that scene (he describes it as “some kind of ritual or ballet – slowness, controlled strength, tenderness and dignity”) that he asked the mom if he could come back to learn it. For several days, he studied each movement, took pictures and recorded it, and in 1976 he shared all of his knowledge with the world through his book ‘Loving Hands.'

Barbara Hoft

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