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 The Science Behind Breast Massage

Supporting Lymphatic Drainage

The breasts contain major lymphatic channels that drain into nodes seated in the axillary region or armpit, and the sternum, right at the heart center. Lymph nodes produce antibodies that help to eliminate harmful foreign bodies. By caring for our breasts through breast massage,  we are not only helping the physical movement of fluids, but also caring for our tender hearts. In this way, we clear emotional holding, assist in lymphatic drainage, as well as increase vitality of our breasts.

The Ayurvdic Perspective

In Ayurveda, the seven dhatus (or bodily tissues) helps to explain the specific needs of the breast area.

They are as follows: (1) rasa or plasma, (2) meda or fat/adipose tissue, (3) rakta or blood, (4) mamsa or muscle, (5) sukra or reproductive tissues, (6) asthi or bones, and (7) majja or bone marrow. The significant dhatus of the breasts include meda dhatu (or adipose tissues) and rasa dhatu (or lymph/plasma) which has significance for the skin, menstrual flow, and lactation. 

The quality of your lymph and adipose, or rasa and meda dhatu, plays a major role in breast health. Since toxins are stored in adipose, the breast region is, unfortunately, also the site of toxin collection and storage. All of the environmental pollutants we are exposed to daily contribute to why breast cancer is so prevalent today. These include pollutants such as: pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in food, air pollutants or smog, chemicals present in our water supply, medications, cleaning products, personal care products and plastics.

By supporting the elimination of these toxins in the meda dhatu and helping with the flow of rasa dhatu, we improve the quality of these tissues and help to decrease our risk of developing imbalance and disease. Toxins are also released through sweat, so exercise and hydration is essential to maintain the healthy flow within these tissues. 

By caring for our breasts through breast massage,  we are not only helping the physical movement of fluids, but also caring for our tender hearts.

pregnant in a field
mom and newborn

How Breast Massage Can Help You

 

Breast Massage and the Doshas

Your specific dosha is communicated through your breast type and can also help to understand imbalances in the breast tissue. 

  • Vatta dosha tends towards smaller breasts with more dry and thin skin. Imbalance in this dosha can lead to shrinking breasts, dehydration, and blocked ducts.
  • Pitta dosha tends toward medium sized breasts with oily skin. An imbalance can lead to pain, yellow discharge, tender breasts, inflammation, and infection or abscesses in pitta excess. 
  • Kapha dosha tends toward large breasts with moist skin. An imbalance can lead to lumps, stagnation, swelling, and oily discharge. 

Benign lumps or fibrocystic breasts can be a result of Kapha and Vata imbalance where Kapha thickens the stagnation of toxins in the ducts and Vata imbalance dries out and hardens these substances. In this instance, breast massage is helpful in breaking up excess and hardened build up, as well as moisturizing the dry breasts. Castor oil is particularly helpful as it can penetrate the skin and break up the lumps. (see section below regarding oils for fibrocystic breasts)

 

Breast Massage and Postpartum

For postpartum and lactating women in particular, lymph stagnation can be very painful and shows up in the form of engorgement. Breast massage during lactation can not only ease this painful build up of milk, but it also has the opposite benefit of improving milk flow for those that are having a slow start to milk production. Breast massage can be a great accompaniment to hand- expressing milk as well, adding it in right before you express to help with the flow. It can also act as prevention from the formation of abscesses and infections, or “mastitis.” For postpartum mothers, breast massage can also release oxytocin, which has a powerful effect on lifting the mood. The instant and long-term mental health benefits, as well as stress reduction is helpful in keeping depression away for a new mother. 

 

Breast Massage and Marma Points

Breast massage can also target marma points, or subtle energy points, and help to release blocked energy in the chest area. Marma points are similar to acupuncture points in Chinese Medicine and targeting these points also has a correlated effect of balancing a person’s energy and allowing energy to flow more freely. Repressed emotions such as anxiety, grief, stress, anger, frustration, guilt, or sadness can disrupt the flow of prana near the heart chakra.

Through massage of specific marma points, these emotions can be released, while also allowing better flow of pranic energy and breath. Many women have experienced the disappearance of masses or lumps by releasing their emotional repression. See Table 1.1 below for a description of marma points around the breast area. You can press gently on these points with your fingertips for a minute while breathing deeply and holding the feeling of love in your mindʻs eye.

Table 1.1 Marma Point for Breast Massage

Marma Location Relevance
Stanya Mula On both sides of the breastbone, at the level of the nipple Relieves congestion, promotes lymph circulation, helps with lactation
Stanya Parshva On the side of the chest beneath the armpit, in the 7th intercostal space Also, relieves congestion, promotes lymph circulation, helps with lactation
Hrid Marmani On both sides of the breastbone- in the 3rd, 4th and 5th intercostal spaces Same as marmas above, as well as targets the heart and lungs and overall functioning of the chest and heart chakra. Can relieve stress and calm emotions.
Hridayam In the center of the breastbone, at the level of the 3rd intercostal spaces Primary marma for the heart chakra.

Info sheet from Banyan Botanicals

Writing compliments of

Alysha Higgins

Alysha Higgins

Birth worker, Body worker, Movement Artist

Alysha is a mama of two, birthworker, movement artist, and bodyworker apprenticing as a lomi lomi practitioner in Maui, HI. A native to Los Angeles with Indo-Caribbean/Irish roots, she is currently completing work-study and training with the Center for Sacred Window Studies in order to better provide culturally centered postpartum care to her family in Trinidad and Tobago.

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