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Who Am I?

I am nobody important…just another woman who has struggled all her life with her body and self-confidence.

You are reading this probably because you care about your health, your appearance, or your self-esteem. Yoga has helped me all through my life to deal with the ups and downs of being a woman. However, I am not the skinny supermodel type that you see in yoga magazines. I am short, fat, and approaching old age, although–according to my friends–I have a great attitude and am very funny.

This is not an advice column, but just a personal journal about learning how to be at peace with having a woman’s belly.

If you write me with suggestions on how to lose weight I will delete your comment with prejudice.

However, if you find my journal about my belly and yoga practice interesting, you can drop me a line.

I’m big on women feeling good about their bellies.

Belly Massage and How to do It

Before you begin:

  • Read the directions before you attempt it
  • Study the anatomy of the digestive organs
  • Follow peristalsis which is in a clockwise direction
  • Always be gentle and stay in touch with yourself, or recipient, if you are giving the massage to someone else.

OVERVIEW

Abdominal massage, which may sometimes be referred to as stomach massage, is a gentle, noninvasive treatment that may have relaxing and healing effects for some people.

It is used to treat a wide variety of health concerns, especially those related to the stomach, such as digestion issues, constipation, and bloating.

You can give yourself an abdominal massage or visit a massage therapist for a session. 

You may benefit from the effects of self- massage after only 5 or 10 minutes per day.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before getting an abdominal massage if you are pregnant or have any health concerns.

The simplest of all abdominal massages is just to rub your belly clockwise. This is the direction of normal peristalsis.

MY ROUTINE

This is best done when you are relaxed, on your bed, a beach towel on your floor, or your yoga mat.

  1. Place your palm on your navel and take a deep breath. Then move your hand to a circle outside your navel and work your way in. Do this as many times as you like and are comfortable doing. You don’t have to press hard, but if you give some firmness to the touch, it works better.
  2. Now you are going to address the lymphatic part of your belly. This is where your immune system gets a workout. Gently stroke the sides of your abs up and down with the heel of the hand, both sides. Think of it as a sponge that wants fresh new water in it to clean your body effectively. You wouldn’t want to clean your house with a dirty sponge, would you? (So after the belly massage, drink some pure water.)
  3. There are two valves that are the gatekeepers for your belly: the ileocecal valve on the left side and the sigmoid flexure on the right. Rub those valves and help them relax and reset. They are in the lower corners of your belly above the pubic bone and below the navel. (See diagram).
  4. Place your hands under your ribs on the soft part of your belly just under the diaphragm. Breathe softly into your hands, and let this part of your belly relax. Work your way down repeating the same breathing technique. It is better to let your belly relax naturally, then forcing yourself to take big breaths. I like to think of it as watching a flower unfurl. When it feels soft, give your stomach and pancreas (left side) a massage, along with your liver and gallbladder (right side). Don’t worry about being anatomically correct, the area under the ribs benefits if you rub it there.
  5. You can do these in any order you want. Try it once and find out how your body responds, then adjust the routine to fit your tummy. We are all women, yet we all are different, so it is up to us to become experts on our own bodies.

Movement is Massage

Every time you move, you are massaging your belly. No matter whether you walk, run, do yoga, swim, or dance, you are massaging your belly. Anything that requires you to focus on your body and use alternate movements of the shoulders and hips will be help you feel better. That is the best massage there is: moving the body.

The beauty of yoga is the stretch. It creates space and helps settle things back into place. That is why yoga helps you feel so balanced. You are actually making up for all those crazy life moments when you are rushing to work, rushing to buy groceries, pick up your kids, or just trying to meet a deadline. If you don’t take time out, your stomach would always feel like it was in your throat, because stress affects the stomach first, and then the rest of your organs.

The stretch is the first step. But….there are two more steps.

  1. Stretch
  2. Stop thinking too much
  3. Move and be inside your body

Stopping the mind by focusing on holding a pose (even if it is difficult) will help you switch to body consciousness. Then the rest periods help you assimilate the changes in your nervous system, circulation, and muscles. That is the when the real work of yoga happens, and to make it happen, you have to learn how not to control anymore. You actually need to control less to have more.

Our modern life gets mixed up with yoga in an unfortunate pattern: we think if we stretch more, we will get better. The meaning of yoga is yoking the mind to the body, as if you were yoking an ox to the plow.

The mind obsesses and wanders, gets lost, and then comes back. This is OK, this is the nature of mind.

Yoga is a way to get your mind more focused faster because you are not just exercising, you are letting go to stay in a pose, letting go at the end of the pose, and then at the end of the session, letting go of the practice, the day, and all your problems. For one moment in time, you forget time, and live in your body because you no longer feel driven by the mind. They are one.

Healthy Bellies

Women fret a lot about their bellies and also enjoy them.

We love to eat, unless we have been brainwashed to be too thin, and punish ourselves.

We also enjoy pregnancy and hate it when things are not right. (Like puking when we are nauseous, then are hungry and want to eat a ton of food.)

We hate being fat, and we love being sexy, but not all of us are built to be thin throughout our whole lives.

To actually live with our bellies as our companions instead of something we have to fight is a hard concept to embrace when our bellies rebel against us and we are have a disease, such as fibroids, cancer, or obesity. And yet, that is when our bellies need us the most, and want more nurturance.

Yet the way to understanding is through these hard times, because if we listen to our bellies while we are going through the tough times: pregnancy, surgery, or chemo, we might be able to stop judging ourselves and start relaxing into what is happening–even if it is painful–and do the best thing for what we need to do to get back to health, if we can, and accept the unacceptable, if we can’t.

One way to know if you are getting along with your belly on a day to day basis is to notice how good your digestive processes are going: this will affect your emotions, moods, and how clear your thinking is today. Just touching your belly and seeing how it feels, is warm and healthy? or cold and hard? Is it tied into knots, or bubbling merrily? (Yes, those gurgling noises are good signs: you are relaxing and getting in touch with your tummy.)

Then rub it and ask it what it wants. Clockwise is best. That is the direction of peristalsis.