There’s a reason socialites, models and celebrities flock to Marina Baratashvili’s nondescript massage studio in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. There’s a reason they smile and endure an hour of painful stimulation, pushing, twisting and poking. Make a regimen with Baratashvili and you’ll notice long-lasting, learning muscles, less inflammation and the ability to dig deep into sculpted skin—literally—to the core of the body’s fascia. A band of connective tissue under the skin that connects and separates muscles and other internal organs.
Don’t get confused. This is not your typical lymphatic drainage massage. Baratashvili has created his own brand of bodywork, and, as painful as it is, it works. I visited Baratashvili and endured a session, only to find myself feeling leaner, more sculpted and more energetic than when I walked in. I sat down with Baratasvili to find out how she started her journey into the body, as well as her secrets to solving inflammation. And her famous water diet (hint: drink a lot of it).
What is your background that led you to create your own type of massage?
I graduated from Tbilisi Medical Institute in Tbilisi, Georgia. Then, I studied at China’s First Military Medical University. I have worked in a wide variety of settings including day spas, athletic clubs, private practices, chiropractic clinics, and physical therapy offices. But the most important moment in my career was meeting Professor Li Y. Kai, when I was in Guangzhou, China. There I have been practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine for several months. In Guangzhou I realized what I was looking for all my life, what I want to do and how I can help people. I deepened my knowledge about muscles. I have decided to discover the secret of muscle gravity and today I am happy, because of the good results in that direction.
When I returned to Georgia, I worked closely with the Tbilisi State Opera and Ballet Theater and established a close relationship with their leading star, Nina Ananashivili, who was also a prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater for more than a decade. Additionally, during this period I worked at the Japan Art Ballet Company for two months each year.
What makes your lymphatic drainage massage different from other similar massages?
I can say that I have developed my own style. My education in human movement and my own experience as a dancer have helped me understand how the body works and heals, and deepened my understanding of how to help those suffering from injury or chronic pain. In addition to a simple massage, my unique treatment relieves chronic pain, relieves tired and sore muscles, relaxes the body, calms the nervous system, reduces inflammation, and accelerates the elimination of metabolic waste. I often use cupping in my procedures. Cupping removes toxins and improves blood flow through veins and arteries. Cupping has a detoxifying effect. I have found massage to be an ever-evolving way to learn about healing the body, mind and spirit.
After my treatment you can immediately see how the appearance and shape of the muscles has changed. In addition, I can see a difference in the mood of my clients – they are happier, the quality of the skin is better, the glow of the skin is easily visible. I can describe my method as a combination of body sculpting, lymphatic drainage and deep tissue massage.
You do both lymphatic drainage and cupping.
This combination helps the lymphatic system to maintain the body’s fluid balance, blood circulation, and immune system. The system’s network of vessels and nodes contains lymph, water, proteins, immune system components, waste products, and other remnants of cell metabolism. Lymph nodes, which filter waste, are found throughout the body. These major collections of lymph nodes ensure that lymph passes through as many nodes as possible before returning to the circulatory system. For most of us, the body is perfectly capable of draining itself. But disease, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and other problems can compromise the system, resulting in the need for assisted lymphatic drainage.
As for cupping, cupping is an ancient Chinese treatment based on the belief that certain health problems can be caused by stagnant blood and weak energy. The cupping procedure involves placing a cup on the skin to create suction.
I use cupping to treat chronic pain, back pain and improve circulation. Cupping helps build new connective tissue and create new blood vessels in the tissue. The color of the marks after cupping varies from person to person and is more information about what the problem may be.
When do you notice changes in your body?
Depending on your physical condition, the results you want to achieve, the frequency of your sessions will vary. I can say that you can experience real results in 24 hours or less. However, permanent results depend on the regularity of your massage sessions. For example, if you find yourself tired, fatigued and stressed a lymphatic drainage massage is a great way to restore your body. Trying to detox your system to lose weight or restore your immune system can be a bit more complicated. This is because a lot of the results depend on you and your commitment to a healthy lifestyle. If you receive lymphatic massage sessions and then continue to eat poorly or do not exercise, it may not be as beneficial as it could be for you.
You cannot change everything in one day, especially when we are talking about muscles. It is a really long and difficult process. I need time to work the muscles until they are flexible, then I can sculpt them to remove dead epithelium, increase oxygen supply and restore blood flow. Thus, the muscles are able to function properly. The good news about aging muscles is that you can rebuild them, even if you’re middle-aged or older. I often tell my clients that muscles do not age.
What are your tips for someone who wants to lose weight?
My recommendation for a weight loss or immune support lymphatic massage treatment is to come in for at least twice-weekly sessions for the first month, then stop once a week for maintenance after three months; 10 to 15 sessions are usually required for results.
My clients have different problems and goals when they meet me. I am using lymphatic drainage massage techniques to help reduce inflammation and improve circulation. A properly functioning lymphatic system is essential for overall health.
What are the additional benefits to your massage?
My massage technique is effective for pain relief, digestive problems, hormonal imbalances, skin conditions, cellulite, allergies, headaches, and other problems. Some clients come to me after cosmetic surgery to reduce swelling and flush the byproducts of anesthesia from the body.
A few days after a massage, my clients feel they have extra energy. They are able to work without any pain and they feel a boost of energy. They are no longer blooming.
Talk to me about your water regimen.
Staying well hydrated is essential for good health. Dehydration can cause muscle cramps, fatigue, lack of energy and other problems. I can always tell if you haven’t been keeping up with your daily water intake.
Water is important in the morning because during this period the kidney meridian works actively. Metabolic waste is excreted through the liver. These hours of the morning are considered the “golden hour”.
My recommendation is to follow a combination of classic Eastern European water techniques and Japanese water therapy. Here is my recommended schedule of drinking water based on personal experience. Drink two liters before 2:00 in the morning. Drink another liter between 2pm and 5pm. Sip water only after 5pm for the rest of the evening.