Abdominal massage is a wonderful way to support the circulation, function, and vitality of our organs.
Our organs determine a large part of our health and wellbeing.
For example, did you know that your gut can directly impact your mental health? Up to 90% of our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter, Seratonin, is made in the intestines (instead of the brain)?
The gut science we are learning about as a culture is profound. This is one reason to experience abdominal massage and learn to rub your own belly, for life.
Below are three modalities of abdominal therapy to support digestive, elimination, and reproductive organs.
1) Swedish massage:
The traditional belly massage of the West. It uses manual strokes on the belly with oil to help encourage proper organ blood circulation and circulation to the soft tissues that hold up the organs. It releases stagnant or congested lymph in the belly, encourages peristalsis, and relaxes the abdominal muscles.
2) Visceral Manipulation (VM):
Developed by a french osteopath, J.P. Barral, this work has deep roots in European folk healing.
This is a light touch therapy that assesses and releases soft tissue tension of organs in specific gentle ways to allow the organ movements and function to be optimal. It supports the fascia that envelopes all the organs to be free and able to glide so the organs can hang and move in the way they are designed.
This work is helpful for a variety of organ discomfort and issues, including sphincter tenderness and inflammation, organ tenderness and congestion, abdomninal scar tissue, and belly tension.
3) Maya Abdominal Massage,
or Womb Massage
There is evidence that a form of external womb massage existed historically in many cultures around the world, facilitating and easing women through their menstruation, sexual health, fertility, birthing, postpartum and peri/menopausal life transitions.
I first learned this folk healing massage through Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN, an herbalist and napropathic doctor from the US, who studied this massage from traditional healers while living in Belize. It is commonly called ‘Maya Abdominal Massage’.
I respect and give credit to the deep living roots and culture that this method comes from. I am not Mayan, and I have no intent to co-opt. I am, however, grateful for the blessings and teachings I was freely given. I have internalized and adapted it in my own way to be effective for the way I work.
This technique is modest, gentle, non invasive, and external.
It works by relieving congestion and circulation blockages in the soft tissues of the abdomen to improve the flows of blood, lymph and nerve impulses to the organs. It may also release emotional and energetic congestion from the abdomen. All of this supports vitality for organs.
It is specifically known for helping balance the soft tissues that support, suspend, and weave around the womb, as well as release tension from the muscles of the womb itself. As a result, a ’tilted, tipped, retroverted’, or ‘prolapsed, falling’ womb can be rebalanced gently in the pelvis. Through this, I have observed in myself and clients over the years that circulation is increased, natural fertility is supported, menstruation is more efficient and pelvic tissues can decongest and de-inflame more efficiently. This means that discomforts commonly associated with pelvic pain, menstrual cramps, painful sex, post hysterectomy scarring and bladder incontinence may be reduced, as a side effect.
No matter what the cause for seeking out this therapy, a common result of this work is to feel lighter, more centered and aligned within oneself after the session. Over time, more self awareness and positive regard to this part of your body can develop, and this can enable you to care for yourself better as a whole.
This is because the womb is a center of energy, emotion, and structural pelvic integrity in a woman’s body. When it is in balance, the center of a woman’s being is more balanced. Clients consistently report it’s benefits, and for some it can be life changing.
About your Maya Abdominal Massage session:
In your first appointment we will discuss your health history, your pelvic concerns, talk about the importance of healthy uterine alignment and learn a simple abdominal massage to do on yourself between our sessions. You will receive a gentle abdominal massage from sternum to pubic bone that includes the external uterine massage, and massage on the back and hips… all of which addresses the front and back of the abdomen. After, we will discuss additional self care to do at home that will continue the work between sessions, and help you reach your specific wellness goal.
You will be modestly draped at all times in your session, respecting your comfort.
The first session is about 90 minutes long. Follow up sessions are about 70 minutes each. Most women do an average of one session per month for a total of 4 months. At that 4th month we will re-evaluate. Why do I recommend three months? I’ve observed it generally takes three months to see the results from deep changes to the womb. However, more immediate changes based on mechanical alignment can be felt right away.
Please schedule the session according to when you are not menstruating, do not have an IUD in place, or have an acute infection.
Symptoms that I’ve seen Maya Abdominal Massage help balance:
- Low/prolapsing uterus and/or cervix visible upon self inspection
- Painful sex
- Painful ovulation
- Painful menses (including menstrual cramps, dizziness, passing out, bowel pain)**
- Difficult tampon insertion**
- Low/prolapsing bladder, incontinence
- Chronic bladder or yeast infections
- Irregular menstrual cycles and/or ovulation, PCOS**
- Fertility conception challenges**
- Frequent miscarriages, difficult pregnancies**
- Endometriosis scarring and worsening
- PMS/Depression with menstruation**
- Too much, too little period bleeding**
- Pelvic congestion
- Bloating on menses
- Low Back ache which worsens right before and during beginning of menses
- Larger or varicose veins down one, or both, legs
- Low energy on menses
- Deep groin ache or one sided hip pressure that persists
- One hip repeatedly misaligns
- Rectal pressure on menses
- Transverse, Breech baby position in late Pregnancy**
- Pregnancy and Postpartum muscular discomfort**
- Pregnancy and Postpartum pelvic and sacral ligament aches and pains**
- Pregnancy and Postpartum womb misalignment**
- Pregnancy and Postpartum digestive sluggishness**
- Digestive Disorders
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic indigestion or heartburn
- Restricted breathing due to tension
**For more information on how this method helps support periods, fertility, pregnancy and postpartum, please go to “For the Womb” section.
Are you a mother of a daughter?
Please read on.
Teenagers and preteens can definitely benefit from this work. In my experience younger women have the ability to repair the effects of soft tissue changes from womb malposition quickly and efficiently, and as such, this work can be a potentially great support to avoiding the common painful symptoms our culture has come to think of as ‘normal’ for menstruating… such as low back pain, bloating, heaviness, cramping, and difficulty with using tampons (really!).
Imagine if you could help your daughter avoid these (and possibly other difficulties you had with your womb), as well as foster a healthier foundation for fertility, and a practical, common sense, self aware approach regarding her natural womanly processes… This is the potential of this work for this age group. It is so important.
In my many years of offering this, many women have told me “I wish I knew about this sooner.” Moms, come receive a session so you know what it’s about and how it supports you. And then consider if it’s a fit for your daughters. Girls from ages 13 – 18 are welcome to have a session with their guardian present.
Why have I or my doctor not heard of this before? Is this legitimate?
Modern western medicine is still in the process of remembering (and seeing the reasoning of) the traditional women’s wisdom that this method comes from. It is happening though! In my years of teaching I had students who were chiropractors, gynecologists, physical therapists, midwives, nurses, doulas, massage therapists, and naturopathic doctors. I also heard through my clients of their elder doctors trained who knew of the importance of womb alignment… including womb repositioning exercises they were given to help for menstrual pain, conception support and prolapse relief!
In fact, if we want to point to historical references… one example is from the Victorian era, where women riding on trains was discouraged because it was thought to move the womb and cause hysteria! I don’t agree with that, but the important thing to realize is that the cultural reference to uterus location and it’s side effects was there!
So, not to worry. Both modern and historical traditions work beautifully together.
For example, supporting womb alignment before conception and during pregnancy
can help support delivery to be easier for both mom and doctor because the cervical ligaments responsible for dilation are more balanced and therefore more efficient.
Lubricating the cervix with pelvic steaming can create east for a client during IUI and other insemination procedures. This is one reason that infertility clinics are now hiring practitioners of traditional uterine massage to facilitate better chances for their clients.
In my sessions I do the massage therapy but also teach concepts of traditional uterine self care as needed. Our bodies are different than men’s and need support that is specific to this. I see this information as a birthright to all women who want to know, as it is simply part of how one cares well for a female body.
Meg’s Womb Massage in the news:
In July 2019, Megan’s earlier interview with Andrea Muraskin was remastered for the Ladyparts Podcast, episode 9.
In July 2019, Megan was mentioned in the book “Everything Below the Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution” by Jennifer Block.
In October, 2017 Megan was interviewed by Lafayette TV station KATC about folk healing for women.
In April, 2017, Megan was a guest lecturer at Vermillionville in Lafayette, LA presenting on folk healing concepts for women and wombs.
In November, 2014 Megan had two clinical case studies of womb massage published in first edition of book called “Journeys in Healing”.
The August 25, 2013 production of Sound Medicine, Megan was interviewed in a radio program about womb massage.
The February/March 2012 issue of Bloom Magazine featured an article on maya abdominal massage in Bloomington, IN.
The May 2011 issue of Natural Awakenings Indianapolis edition, featured an article on maya abdominal massage in Indy, IN.
The March/April 2010 issue of Mothering Magazine (issue #159) featured an article on maya abdominal massage, which featured Meg’s artwork.
All photos and images and text copyright 2019 Megan Assaf.
Do not reproduce without permission.