by: Glynda Cullen, LMT, LE
How often have you heard the phrase “trust your gut?” This is more than just a common anecdote referencing intuition, it turns out: it’s science and a foundation of Ayurveda, an ancient healthcare tradition.
The enteric nervous system (ENS) governs the GI tract’s assimilation of food – and this primal gut-brain connection is also responsible for assimilating thoughts and emotions. So, any problems you have digesting food or assimilating stimuli (physically, mentally or emotionally) threaten your stomach health.
What to do? At-home Ayurvedic stomach massage is easy to learn. Do it whenever your gut tells you to…
The brain-stomach connection
Your ENS is a superhighway of constant chemical and hormonal communication between the gut and brain – via nerves as complex as those in the spine. So, your gut communicates pain or discomfort to your brain when it’s hungry or scared, or when it’s threatened by disease-making microbes.
Interestingly enough, digestion primarily takes place in your small and large intestines and stomach: commonly referred to as our “core,” which could serve as a frame of reference for saying stomach is the core of our health.
This concept of “core” has been around for thousands of years. According to the time-honored, healing science Ayurveda (which has origins in India), Agni or digestive-fire is the core of a healthy immune system.
Ayurvedic stomach massage
The abdominal cavity houses many vital organs and truly deserves more of your loving attention. It’s true that the stomach is considered a sensitive area to be touched; we carry many emotions here. Nabhi Abhyanga, or Ayurvedic stomach massage, is considered so essential to strong immunity that teachers of this healing art say: “If you do not massage the stomach, why massage at all?”
The warm, trustworthy hands applied to the stomach, during Nabhi Abhyanga, can facilitate the removal of accumulated toxins often referred to as Ama in Ayurvedic teachings. This massage practice is particularly effective for those suffering from IBS or anyone doing a colon cleanse. It’s not uncommon to experience an emotional release, or feeling of lightness, when having this work done.
Before having an abdominal massage, drinking a warm cup of water with lemon encourages the opening and flow within the GI tract that will promote detoxification.
Self-massage is free and very beneficial as well:
- Lie on your back, with legs bent.
- Begin with both hands moving in clockwise circles on your abdomen; the direction your natural digestion flows.
- Now, probe for any tender or sore spots; do small circles in these areas, increasing pressure as you warm up the tissue.
- Next, move up and down, and back and forth into these tender areas.
- Complete your self-massage the way it began, with firm, gentle whole-hand circles on the entire abdomen in a clockwise direction.
- The entire massage should last 20 minutes to be most beneficial.
- You may do a dry-massage or add a small amount of nourishing oil such as sesame, coconut or olive to increase the flushing of the tissues.
- I always recommend following-up any massage with plenty of fresh water to flush out the released toxins. Otherwise, reabsorption can occur and you certainly don’t want that to happen!
Ayurveda offers many more practices to improve your stomach health. You may find the website www.joyfulbelly.com helpful when choosing recipes to nourish your body and stoke your fire!
Next time you receive a healing massage, consider the importance of the stomach to your sense of wellness and immunity.
Glynda is a licensed Massage Therapist and a licensed Esthetician. She is also trained in Ionic Foot Detox practices. She performs therapeutic massage, organic facial treatments, and healing Ionic Foot Detox Baths. (Glynda offers after-hours appointments).