Those of you who’ve seen me for bodywork before know that I love working the abdomen and ribs. A couple potential benefits of this are releasing back tension, promoting peristalsis and good digestion, developing body awareness, and being able to take deeper, more relaxed breaths. Who couldn’t use a little deep breathing right now? Abdominal massage can be a powerful tool to target digestive and reproductive issues. Here is an easy self massage sequence you can do at home to help deepen your breath, bring energy and blood flow through your organs, and release muscle tension in the abdomen and back.
As you do this sequence, pay attention to yourself about how much pressure is appropriate for you. Work in slowly and gently. If you discover a sore spot feel free to spend more time there. Bellies are awesome and sometimes we hide a lot of judgement and emotions in them and about them. Have compassion for yourself. This is a good time to let your belly hang out and not worry about what you look like, but focus on what you feel and let yourself feel it all, especially the things you may normally try to hide.
Feel your entire body supported on the ground. Let your self feel HEAVY. Feel how heavy your head can be on the ground when you let your neck muscles take a break from holding it up all day. A lot of us use our neck muscles when we breath. Try letting your neck and shoulders stay passive and relaxed as you use only your diaphragm to draw air into your lungs letting your abdomen fill with air and release air. Feel how your head is connected to your spine and the rest of your body. Give yourself plenty of time to settle into this deep relaxation.
When you are ready let your hands begin warming up your abdomen by slowly doing clockwise circles around your navel with your palms. Be sure to cover the entire area from just under your rib cage to just above your hip and pelvis bones. Feel the warmth created by your palms as they circle around your abdomen.
When you have sufficiently warmed your beautiful belly, use your palms or fingertips to apply gentle, slow moving pressure to six points in a line down the center of your abdomen. You can start just below the sternum(the center bone in your rib cage), and end just above the pubic bone. The points don’t have to be precise. I do three points above the navel and three points below the navel. Hold each point for 3 seconds, then repeat a couple of times.
Next find the bony protrusion of your right hip. Move just above the bone into the soft part of your abdomen. Apply pressure with your palms or fingertips staying on the same point, but directing the pressure towards your navel. Think of this as giving the soft tissue and organs a lift where they normally can get compressed from sitting and gravity. Do this a few times, working in deeper each time if that feels appropriate.
I hope you found this sequence easy to follow, informative and helpful. Please let me know if you if you have any questions or feedback. I look forward to hearing what you think!
Karen Townsend is a massage therapist certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is trained in Thai Yoga Massage, Shiatsu and Western therapeutic massage techniques. Click here to learn more about Karen.