By Natalie Pattillo
I don’t usually buy into holistic services. It’s not that I’m morally opposed to sea salt facials or hot stone massages — all of that sounds incredible. If someone bought me a gift card for a mud bath or sauna, I’d find a sitter and clear my schedule ASAP. But, like most women I know, I don’t create much time for wellness in my day-to-day, which is why I decided to go out on a limb and give Arvigo™ Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy a go. It was recommended to me as a possible treatment for bladder leaks. I already know what you’re asking:
What even is Mayan abdominal massage?
Essentially, it’s an external and non-invasive way to reposition internal organs that may have rearranged themselves during childbirth, pregnancy, or other life events. Most massages include our heads, necks, shoulders, arms, legs, and feet, but our stomachs are usually totally ignored. And, for anyone like me who experiences pelvic floor dysfunction (urge incontinence over here), I learned that giving your stomach some TLC might help manage symptoms.
So, a few weeks ago, I rolled into Earth & Sky Healing Arts to get my first-ever Arvigo™ Therapy from Katinka, a licensed massage therapist.
To start the session, Katinka served me a warm herbal tea while she walked me through the massage technique and its relationship to women’s health and incontinence. She asked thorough questions about my health history to better understand my body.
Then, she pulled out a model of the pelvic floor, and pointed at the uterus which leans a bit over the bladder in the center of the pelvis — the pelvic muscles, vaginal wall, and ligaments hold it all up. That’s strength!
She also explained that uterine ligaments are created to stretch. And, as we’ve discussed before, the ligaments and muscles can weaken over time. The loosening of those muscles can cause your uterus to fall down, forward, or backward (or left or right, which means it’s tilted or prolapsed).
If the uterus is tilted or prolapsed, it could be adding extra pressure to the bladder, and there’s not much any medical procedure can do to align it back to normal — this is where Arvigo™ Therapy comes in handy. Shifting the uterus back into place can help restore the pelvic area, which means you have space for your organs to live comfortably.
While on the massage table, Katinka massaged my stomach gently, checking the placement of my uterus and bladder. Lo and behold, my uterus was tilted and pushing against my bladder. I would have never been able to tell! Well, other than having trouble holding my pee during my morning commute. She explained that, in my case, the massage and self-care techniques could shift the uterus forward into a more central position and take the pressure off my bladder.
At the end of the massage, Katinka gave me a self-care regimen to be carried out 5 times a week for about 5 minutes each.
Deep belly breaths
Pretty straightforward, but she said to make sure I’m breathing into my stomach, and can actually see my belly rising and expanding.
Upper and lower abdominal massage
She explained I should practice self-massage daily, and showed me how to use my pointer and middle fingers to stroke the center and both sides of my lower stomach.
Castor oil packs
These should be placed on my stomach 2-4 times per month (or more!). I learned that castor oil packs can naturally help with liver detoxification, support uterine and ovarian health, improve lymphatic circulation, and reduce inflammation.
Apple cider vinegar or warm water with lemon juice in the morning can help wake up the digestive system. Katinka also suggested I cut back on irritants and try a bladder-friendly diet with lower caffeine, sugar, and alcohol to see if that helps.
She explained that there was no reason to be too hard on myself if I wasn't super meticulous with the new regimen. Also, the massages and breathing exercises are accessible. They can be done in the shower or under the covers right before your slumber. She also explained that a regular visualization practice—where I manifest that I’m in control and can trust my body parts—can help strengthen the benefits of the rest of my self-care routine. It amazed me how long I'd gone without acquainting myself to my own insides. Disembodiment is a disempowerment, y'all.
Two weeks later I had a follow-up visit, and while I’m not fully cured of my symptoms, I definitely feel calmer, more confident, and in control of my body — even when it disagrees with me.
Would you give Mayan Abdominal Massage a try? Have you tried any other holistic practices? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.
Posted: Wed, Jul 31, 2019