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“The breasts are totally ignored in most [Western] massage,” says Aarya Carolan, a Chopra Center massage therapist. “But it is very healing for people to receive massage directly to the breasts, where they often need it most.” Massage helps to flush toxins through the lymphatic system, reduce pain, improve range of motion, and increase the flow of prana, as well as break up scar tissue after mastectomy, reconstruction, or open-heart surgery.
Breast massage is effective for as both a recovery and preventive measure (though few studies can quantify the degree). Carolan adds that the use of oils such as chamomile, oregano, frankincense, and sesame help to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system while moving stagnant energy from vulnerable areas. “When I got my Reiki certification, I said I’m going to go right to the breasts, because no one was really dealing with these major centers of detoxification and healing,” says Marisa Sullivan a Yoga for Cancer Therapist and Reiki Master who frequently works with breast cancer patients and survivors.
Ayurveda relies strongly on massage as preventative medicine, and traditional ayurvedic massage doesn’t overlook the breasts as in the West. The traditional technique helps release stagnation and balance prana and apana, allowing for flow and release of stagnant energy through the nadis (energetic pathways) and marmas (pressure points along the chest and armpits that correspond to many lymph points, considered gateways of energy and wisdom that closely parallel the main lymphatic pathways of the breasts and chest).
“Ayurvedic breast massage helps regulate lymph flow and facilitates myofascial release,” says Jennifer Johnson, spa director of the Chopra Center, which introduced a new protocol for breast care with its Ayurvedic Breast Massage program last March. The massage combines the Spurgeon-Shulte method ™ of therapeutic breast massage with traditional Ayurvedic massage techniques. “With the massage, limitations, both emotional and mind/spirit, improve.”
See also 12 Yoga Poses to Boost Breast Health
Try This DIY Breast Massage Technique
Practice breast massage frequently, taking special care to notice the health and condition of your breasts and note fluctuations around your monthly cycles.
Mix your own massage oil:
Ayurvedic medicine favors Sesame as a nourishing and neutralizing base oil. Add Frankincense (heart-opening, grounding), Rosemary (healing, anti-inflammatory), Chamomile (anti-inflammatory), and Oregano (immune-boosting) essential oils.
Stand or sit in front of a mirror and cup your breast from underneath while you massage with the other hand, working in gentle but firm strokes from the outer breast to the nipple. Make your thumb and middle fingers into a “V” shape and press from the outside edges to the center, systematically massaging the entire breast. Lift your arm up toward the ceiling and take the opposite hand to the outer chest where it connects to the arm. Massage the lymphatic area of the upper chest and inner armpit with gentle strokes. Massage under the neck and on the sides of the throat up to the base of the ear.