Shantala, Traditional Indian Infant Massage

ArjunGabriel our son took his first massage yesterday as my wife Cyntia was really keen on it. As an Indian, these massage techniques are not new to us, as this is common practice for us to give massage to the babies. In my country this is an activity that is part of routine baby care. My mother tells me that as kid my grandmother use to give all her grandsons and granddaughter this kind of massage. I was reading somewhere it is kind of Yoga for the little ones. ArjunGabriel really enjoyed the whole process. And As I said my wife was really keen on this.  As  at present, she is based in Brazil, she did not have access to these massage techniques.

But she found one technique called as ‘Shantala’. This technique was made popular by French doctor called Frederick Leboyer. I guess this was the first introduction to the western world of this massage technique. He learned from a lady called as Shantala. Dr. Leboyer  in  order to  honour of the women, he named the technique after her name. So it is called as Shantala. She not only allowed him to see how the massage is done but gave him the permission to photograph it. He has written book called

“Loving Hands The traditional art of baby massage”.  Dr. Leboyer loved the concept; He found this created some kind of connection, emotional bond between the baby and the mother. He was visiting India in 1959 and saw this lady giving massage to her baby called Gopal.  It helps parent to know about the baby’s body. Dr. Leboyer says, “I stopped short, struck by what I was witnessing: In the midst of filth and misery, a spectacle of purest beauty. A silent dialogue of love between a mother and her baby.”  This was enchantment, relationship, interaction and love, something which always is appreciated by all, even the western world as well.

I heard about all these stories when I was in Brazil.  As Indian this is really old technique as old as ancient India. This has been happening for generations and is been passed on from grandmothers to mothers and to the daughters. For me it was really fascinating to learn about the attractions western world has for all ancient things and Shantala was new addition to that big list of attractions.

And yes this is my first post about ArjunGabriel,  after his birth, he really enjoyed the whole process and yes after the massage he had nice hot water bath which eventually ended up in deep sleep. I thought of sharing this with rest of the world through my latest post.

You can watch the whole massage on


10 thoughts on “Shantala, Traditional Indian Infant Massage

  1. As a mother of a 24 year old son who is in the United States Military…I appreciate the loving post you have written about the massage techniques you have used with your child. My son was born into a very stressful environment and I look back now and wonder how I could have done more to help him become a more peaceful person as an adult. This is a wonderful custom for babies and I know the bond must be strong after being raised with this loving touch. Thank you for your post.

    1. Lisa I am so happy to know that you liked my blog. I was not aware of its importance, for me it was practice followed in my country for ages so it was part of my system. But Cyntia my wife who is Brazilian and is always interested in Indian culture and tradition made me aware of the massage. I just wanted to create awareness around so it can help others in future. I appreciate your interest and may be pass on the information to your near dear ones. This will serve my purpose of writing. Thank you very much for taking interest and reading my post.

  2. Such a beautiful tradition to share with everyone here. I am half Italian and my Grandmother and all mothers before her in the family did something similar with warm olive oil and the herb holy basil. Makes sense being Italian, use what you have at hand! Thank you!!!

    1. yes I am sure you must have enjoyed every bit of that. There are some old traditions which we are forgetting and this is one of that so thought of sharing it with you all. I am really happy you liked it. And thank you very much.

      1. Yes it has to be joint effort and my son is very lucky that he has both traditions and cultures for help. I am really happy that you got my point. Thank you so much.

  3. Fantastic tradition … never heard about. Love reading about it. I saw a video about a nurse that was massage a baby under running water … also to do with how she used her hands and the baby was so peaceful the whole time.

    1. Thank you so much, ie. bit of India.Even though now a days India is becoming famous for wrong things. It is sad. I thought I should just right some of our good things. Thank you so much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s