Our body’s center is perhaps our most loved and important body part. The belly houses our digestive system, vital organs, and reproductive system. Also called our second brain, the digestive system plays a vital role in cleaning the body, absorbing nutrients, creating hormones, and more.
Abdominal massage benefits the belly by aiding digestion, improving elimination, relieving gas, and easing heartburn. These techniques also release emotions and remove tension from the core muscles, which can enhance quality of life.
Caution is urged if you are pregnant, have cancer or infection of the stomach and pelvis area, or have recently had surgery. If you are unsure, or have a specific concern, consult your doctor before trying these techniques.
To connect with your body before massaging the abdomen, practice a few rounds of pranayama. Close your eyes and breathe down into the base of the belly. Watch as the breath fills the belly to its maximum without too much strain. Let the breath flow up to the lungs and collarbone, and then watch as it exits the body from the top down.
Sanskrit: Parivrtta Sukhasana
Step by step: After breathing calmly, inhale and place your right hand on the floor behind you near the base of the spine—palm flat and fingers facing away from your body. Lift your left arm to the sky, lengthening the side of the body. On the exhalation, twist your body to the right and place your left hand on the right knee. Stay here and breathe, lengthening the spine toward the ceiling and rooting the sacrum down to the earth. Keep bringing attention to your breath and allow each exhalation to take your twist deeper. Stay here anywhere from 5-10 breaths, as long as you are comfortable and steady. Repeat on the opposite side.
You can always sit on a blanket to make sure your sitting bones are resting evenly on the ground, and that your body is not tilting forward or back.
Step by step: To focus on a more therapeutic aspect of this asana, have a blanket, block, or bolster available. Kneel with your shins parallel and your feet on the outside edges of your hips. Place the prop under your sitting bones or knees—if you need that support. Inhale and lift your bottom off the ground. While doing this, use your hands to slide the calf muscles out slightly and back to create more space. Then sit back down. Make sure you are not experiencing any pain, as holding this pose for a longer period of time is ideal. Breathe down toward the belly to promote more oxygen and space. Hold this pose for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes while continuing to breathe.
Use as many props as necessary. If you have ankle, foot, or knee problems, you should practice with a trained and qualified instructor. This pose promotes digestion and helps relieve gas by bringing fresh blood to the pelvis and allowing the organs to relax.
To prepare for abdominal self-massage, wear comfortable clothes or have a bare belly. Oil is optional, though it can feel nice and make the strokes more fluid.
Your abdominal region needs as much massage as the rest of your body. With these abdominal massage techniques, you’ll find relief while showing your belly some love!