Shantala baby massage originated in India where baby massage has been a part of the daily care routine for centuries. In India, it is wisdom that is passed down from mother to daughter.
Shantala baby massage was brought to the west in the 1970’s by a French physician named Frederick Leboyer. He had been walking through the streets in one of the slums of Calcutta when he happened to spot a mother massaging her baby outdoors. What struck him was the peacefulness and beauty of the interaction, which contrasted drastically with the surroundings. The mother’s name was Shantala and she consented to teaching Leboyer about the massage she was performing.
Leboyer published what he learned in a book entitled, “Loving hands: the traditional art of baby massage”. He summarized the importance of touch, which is confirmed by research, as follows:
“Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant. Food as necessary as minerals, vitamins, and proteins. Deprived of this food, the name of which is love, babies would rather die. And they often do.”
Shantala baby massage is a slow, gentle, rhythmic massage. It is based attentive, loving and respective touch. It is performed with awareness and a sincere wish to be in contact and connection with another. In The Netherlands, Shantala baby massage has been adapted for other age groups (i.e. toddlers, children and adults) and persons with special needs. All forms of Shantala massage are based on the Shantala approach:
Repeating and slowing down our actions.
Attention and connection.
Full surrender to the NOW.
Security and tenderness.
Touch and communication.
Love and trust.
For more information about the different forms of Shantala massage and the Shantala vision, please visit the website of the Dutch Association for Shantala Massage Instructors (Vakgroep Shantalamassage Docenten; www.shantala.nl).