Maya Jama’s Brazilian Body Therapist Shares Her 7 Golden Rules
With as much flesh as fabric on show when she walked the red carpet at the 2022 Brit Awards, Maya Jama shared that her beautifully sculpted body was, in part, the result of a unique Brazilian body treatment. Her therapist, FLAVIA MORELLATO, tells NEWBY HANDS the secrets to A-gaming your body
“This type of hands-on body work is part of our culture,” explains Flavia Morellato, the Brazilian-born, London-based specialist hotly in demand for her Morellato Method of contouring the body with her famous lymphatic-drainage massage. And the astounding reshaping and sculpting results are increasingly seen on many an A-lister’s Instagram grid. “As a country, Brazil leads the world in plastic surgery, and from the 1960s, doctors such as Dr. Ivo Pitanguy made this type of treatment part of their post-surgery protocol. We’re also very body- and health-focused, and lymphatic drainage is something we all rely on – after all, in Brazil, the bikini is our favorite outfit.”
Not to be confused with the European Vodder lymphatic massage, where the fingers almost flutter over the skin to gently drain away retained fluid, the Brazilian approach is about as different as the haute couture runway is to the Rio carnival. “We work deeper, to drain excess fluid from the muscles, as well as puffiness under the skin,” explains Morellato. “And we always start by massaging the gut, as 70 percent of the lymphatic system is found here.” She also works down the body – moving from the belly to the thighs, then the calves and ankles – rather than up, to drain away excess fluid. And it works beautifully.
After massaging one leg, she tells me to raise it up from the massage couch. Like magic, it feels feather-light. Then she tells me to lift my untreated leg, which now feels incredibly lumpen and heavy. “You’re used to carrying the weight of that fluid around with you every day. But this is what can be done in just a short time – I collect the fluid and move it up and out, and you see the before and after and it’s ‘Whoa!’”
While the hands-on treatment is incredible (after one session I felt streamlined for days, and amazingly, two little spongy pockets sitting on my ribs have never returned), Morellato has excellent advice on how we can greatly improve matters ourselves. From what to drink to the Brazilian way to body brush, here’s how to inject some of that famous Morellato Method into your own regimen…
1. Drink more water to lose more water
“As soon as the body is lacking in water – from exercise, alcohol, certain foods – it holds on to what it has and then you get this spongy feel and puffiness to the body,” she says. Too much sugar, salt and alcohol (“alcohol is the worst thing for fluid retention”), low blood pressure, genetics and simply not drinking enough water can all leave you feeling heavy, bloated and puffy, according to Morellato. “You need to drink water to get rid of excess water; the rule is 35ml for each kilo you weigh. This keeps the water flushing through the body, so you have a better digestion, immune system, circulation and metabolism, and you feel lighter.”
2. Activate your ‘second heart’
If you are desk-bound for long periods, heel raises are the best fluid-pumping exercise you can do. “If the gut is our second brain, the calves are our second heart,” Morellato explains. “If you can do 30 heel lifts every hour, that’s amazing.”
3. Body brush the Brazilian way
“I do this routine every morning and it takes less than five minutes. We start with the belly, but before brushing you have to activate the lymph glands so the fluid can be drained away. Press and slightly vibrate the fingertips as you work upwards between the ribs four or five times – this stimulates the thoracic lymph nodes. Then you can brush in clockwise circles over the belly. Next, move on to the legs, stimulating the glands in the groin by gently pressing and releasing inside the curve of the hip at the top of the leg a few times before brushing up from knee to hip. Then press and release the lymph node behind the knees before brushing up from ankle to knee. Finally, press the lymph glands under the arm before brushing from below the center of the rib cage diagonally upwards under the breasts to the underarm, and then do the same again, but brushing diagonally just above the breasts to under the arm.”
4. Plan ahead to minimize ‘party puff’
If you have an event or sushi dinner planned, you can negate the morning-after puff by upping your water intake well beforehand. “The [more] hydrated [you are] before you drink alcohol or eat salty foods, the less fluid the body will need to hold on to. Also, taking a rehydration or electrolyte powder or drink afterwards, or the morning after, is a good idea,” says Morellato.
5. Work up, up, up!
“When applying a cream or using a body scrub, do everything upwards and with purpose to get the fluid moving.”
6. Breathe deeply
Regular moments of deep breathing throughout the day “help move the lymph. The lymphatic system has no pump, so it relies on muscle contraction and the pumping of the blood to move it, and just taking three to five deep breaths helps.”
7. Check your pee
The sign of a well-hydrated body is “pee the color of gold straw – that shows you are drinking enough water”.
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