Have you heard of a Mayan abdominal massage? I had heard of them a few years ago, but had never really taken a huge interest in the massage until recently (you know, with all the damn gut issues). I had debated on taking a class on the massage-- for self care, you know, doing it to yourself, about two months ago. But it was my birthday weekend and I was a bit under the weather, prepping for Mexico, and I decided I didn't want to overload myself-- fair. And honestly, I'm a sort of happy I didn't bother to take the class. Not that it wouldn't be useful, I'm sure it would, but I feel like everything worked out how it should, you know? No class to take home, but having done the massage with an actual Mayan shaman? Well, it doesn't get anymore legit than that! You know?
So while we were away in Mexico (I miss you, Mexico-- forever) Alex and I did a Temazcal ceremony (sweat lodge) (see here). We loved it--- especially the burning of the herbs. I was a bit nervous-- as I don't do well in enclosed spaces or in the dark-- and this was very obviously and intensely both those things. But after the initial panic, I was fine and grateful I went through with it. And better yet, that was not just two fears I overcame that day, but three, since I was told to cleanse in the cenote as part of the ceremony. And I did it. All of it. The woman who did the ceremony was a Mayan shaman. She was very intimidating at first. Well, actually she was intimidating in general, but the energy radiating off of her was intense and amazing. After the ceremony I nervously went up to her and in my broken spanish to talk to her. And somehow with her first language being Mayan and my first language being English, we still were able to come together to talk about "a massage for the stomach"--- the only way I could really translate it. She asked if I had stomach issues or lady issues and I told her-- both, for sure both. And that I had major bloating (at less than 100lb, I was looking 6 months pregnant that month) and I had intense symptoms before the arrival or my period. She said the massage would help. And she offered to do the massage for me. Grateful could not describe what I was feeling. And excited, so excited. I for sure believed that the universe was looking out for me. What were the chances of actually meeting someone to do the massage for me-- just a week after I had been looking into the massage? And not just someone, or anyone who had just taken a case, but a woman who's family had been practicing the massage for generations and generations. Thank you universe for that one.
So what is a Mayan abdominal massage?
Well, it's exactly like it sounds. A massage of abdomen that is traditional practiced in the Mayan culture. Okay, cool. But what else? Well, there's a few parts to it. The easiest way to explain it is it externally aligns and balances your internal organs (specifically your digestive and lady parts) to make sure everything works to it's fullest potential. I mean, it makes sense, if even one tooth is crooked or out of place it can mess with you whole bite--- right? This is the same. I had been told by my doctor last summer that my uterus was tilted and that was probably the source of my extremely painful periods--- and there was nothing I could do about it. But the Mayans see a tilted uterus differently. This massage is created specifically for that. They help gently push the uterus (and everything else) in place so that your cycle and digestion can flow as intended, naturally and easily without physical (or emotional) blockages.
What was the massage like?
Well, I didn't exactly know what to expect. I had heard of the benefits of getting the massage, but I didn't really look into the technique so much. Alex thinks I'm a bit wacky (or maybe he's used to it now) but I massage my stomach often (and skin brush too, duh!). I think it's good to bring energy and circulation there. And I enjoy getting spa massages that focus on the stomach as well. I find it silly that we go in for full body massages that don't include the abdomen. I mean, why wouldn't it? WHY is it so taboo to get a stomach massage? It totally shouldn't be. It's part of my body, just like my forearm of calves. Anywayyyy, so I started the massage laying on my stomach. She massaged all my limbs, in towards the heart--- just as you would for skin brushing or a lymphatic massage. And it was not a light massage by any means. Lucky for me, I like a really hard pressured massage. She kept asking, "duele?" (does it hurt?) and I would say "no." Then she would ask, "te molesta?" (does it bother you?) Again, "no." It was great, one of the better massages I've ever had really. But as the massage went on I was getting antsy and wondering, "Wait, she remembers I'm here for the abdomen massage, right? These are my limbs. What is going on here? How do I ask her in spanish without sounding incredibly awkward?!?" But like I said, it was a good massage, so I figured, "well, if anything, this is massage alone is worth it." Then she had me roll over for the part I had been waiting for.
So the day before when I was asking her about the massage, she warned me that it would hurt. A lot. I was nervous, but ready for pain-- because I figured I've dealt with pain, I want results. So laying on my back, she continued the massage of my lymph, before finally moving to my abdomen. She then explained that the massage started this way so that she could bring all the energy from my body to my center where the massage would focus. And she was right, the abdominal massage would hurt. It wasn't intolerable by any means-- there were no tears, but I did let our a few intense moans of pain. She started with my colon. The bottom left corner of my abdomen in the spot where it meets my thigh. A spot that I had been pointing to for about to weeks, complaining, "it hurts so bad here." And she massaged, pushing it from the thigh, up into my abdominal area again. After that, I'll be honest it was sort of a blur. She told me to remember the steps so I could do this to myself at home or ask my husband to give me the massage, but I don't remember much. She poked around a lot, again asking, "duele?" and "te molesta?" and this time, I would answer with more often than not with a "si" or "un pocito." She then told me that my uterus was tilted to the left (just as the gyno had told me) and she would be moving it into place (unlike what the gyno told me). She then had me feel a pulse in my stomach-- and told me that it was too high, out of place, and that it needed to be lower. And she continued the massage moving all these slightly out of place organs, into place. She told me that the massage was recommended at least yearly, to keep everything functioning well. That this was something recommended to all women. The massage ended with this weird twisting motion right at my navel. This did hurt. And I swear, she made me a bit of an out-y. She offered me an oil to take home that she brought from home for me. And I gave her the biggest hug (and tip) ever for being so incredibly generous to me. I still feel enormous amount of gratitude every single time I think of her--- which is often. I want more people in the world to be like her, this world would be a better place for sure.
And then what were the results of the Mayan abdominal massage?
Well two months and two periods after my massage, I figured it was about time for a report on my Mayan massage. I didn't want to talk about it right after without being able to tell you guys the effects I had, if any. As I sit here my period is about to come. Or maybe it's here. It's hard to tell-- because for the first time in my life, my periods aren't drowning my in blood. (Sorry, I'm dramatic). But blood flow or not, for me, my previous pre-period time is the hardest. Vertigo, nausea, the breast pain (omg the breast pain), the list of troubles goes on and on. Then my period would come-- and oh boy would it come-- I've talked about this before. It's unnatural how much blood would come out of this tiny body. Also can I just side note here and say that I'm still vegan (with some backyard eggs) and not anemic which you'd think I would be given my weight and blood loss, but no. I thank my spirulina for that really. But yeah, anyway, you get the picture, so much blood loss. (more on previous lady things) But since the massage? My period has been substantially lighter. My last period actually came a bit late last month. I almost completely gave up on it, because it was so late. But 8 days later, it did eventually come. It came and went, and poof that was it. One of my easiest periods yet. And now I'm sitting here waiting for this next one, I think will be about the same, easy. Because pms symptoms? Well, they are still there-- but so much more tolerable. And not intense at all. I'm still a bit dizzy and achy, but nothing at all like before. I couldn't have get hugs before because my breast pain was so bad--- and I'm no where near that point right now at all. I'm good. Some cramps, sure, but it's not bad! And other than the massage, I haven't changed anything hormonally, or done anything that different. It was just the massage-- everything finally in place, allowing hormones and blood and whatever else to flow a bit easier than before.
So it hurt, but would I do it again?
Absolutely. I'm interested to see what the massage might be like with someone here in the states. I imagine my experience in Mexico with an actual (bad ass) Mayan woman is a bit more--- hmm--- authentic than with someone who was taught in a class here-- but I don't know! I don't want to assume anything (though I totally am, if I'm being honest here). I guess we'll have to see when the time comes.
Would I have done anything differently?
Totally. I always make it a point to drink insane amounts of water after a massage to flush out all the toxins. I guess I got a bit swept up with the energy and fun of the trip and drank a bit too much tequila instead of water after the massage. I basically never ever drink anymore-- but I was in Mexico for the first time since being sick-- and I was feeling good and having fun! Lame and stupid justification aside, I should have thought through my actions better. This was a big mistake on my part. We already know the amount of toxins that had been living in my gut, especially my colon since getting sick. Sure, I'm lightly flushing them out each day, but I hadn't done anything like this massage. And I can't imagine the amount of junk that had been stored in my lady parts. The stuff needed to not just be cleansed, but I absolutely should have been more proactive about drinking water, eating clean, and flushing it all out efficiently. I ended up having some pretty heavy die off symptoms through the following days and week before I finally got full on sick when returning home. It eventually passed--- but I think if I had been more careful and detoxed my body after the massage then that wouldn't have happened. I'm looking forward to getting the massage again and helping my body instead of hindering the detox next time. Lesson learned.
Who and what does the Mayan Massage Benefit?
Well, everyone really. For women it helps restore balance to your uterus and ovaries, making for less hormonal disruption, lighter periods, prolapsed uteri, and lessoning or completely removing pain from periods. The massage also benefits your digestion system. When everything is in place your food can move through your body and eliminate as it should. The massage is also recommended for men with digestive or prostate issues. Just like in Chinese medicine where acupuncture is intended to restore or redirect energy to certain parts of your body, the Mayan massage is intended to do this too. I've heard of women struggling with infertility having great results from the massage-- which makes sense. If your systems are out of place and not functioning to their full potential, then how can we expect our bodies to create new life easily? Things have to be working well, and this is just another way to kindly restore your body to what it should be. For me, I'm so incredibly tired of symptom based medicine like we so often see here in the states. So tired of it. I dont want a medicine or drug to cover up "fix" a symptom. I want to know the root cause of my problem and actually resolve it. (Such a crazy concept right? waugh waugh). I like that the mayan massage isn't just treating a symptom, it's treating the (very simple) root cause of so many issues stemming from the abdomen. And I'm totally happy to report I have seen the benefit in it.
If you're looking for a Mayan massage, I'm sure a quick google search can pull up results in your area. I know you can search here as the arvigo website is basically the mecca for all things abdominal massage. Also, I just found (and can't wait to check out) this book. I love learning about natural tools that other cultures use for ailments. My Ayurvedic book is still something I turn to often. Alright folks, I'm exhausted and excited to crawl into bed, but if you have any questions about my experience, totally happy to chat! Just ask away :)