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 freaking incredible. If someone bought me a gift card for a mud bath or sauna sesh, I’d find a sitter and clear my schedule ASAP. But, like most women I know, I don’t create a whole lotta time for wellness. To be honest, I barely prioritize hitting up the doc when I’m sick. I’m working on it. We all are right? As fellow mama, Francie Webb, told us recently, “When we believe we have power over our own bodies and our health, we have the power to make the choice to feel better.” Oftentimes, claiming that power demands experimentation.
So I figured I'd give Arvigo™ Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy (which was founded on the ancient technique of massaging the abdomen) a go. Essentially, it’s an external/non-invasive way to reposition internal organs that may have jiggled around during childbirth, pregnancy, or life in general.
A few weeks ago, I rolled into Earth & Sky Healing Arts to get my first-ever Arvigo™ Therapy from Katinka. Come to think of it, our stomachs might receive the least amount of self-care lovin’. Most massages include our heads, necks, shoulders, arms, legs, feet, and booty getting a good ol’ lavender oil rubdown, but our stomachs are totally ignored.
Katinka is a licensed massage therapist, Arvigo™ Therapy practitioner, doula, body healer, and ultimate badass who focuses on women’s health and integrative structural bodywork. It made sense to see what her prowess as a holistic provider could do for dribblers. (Oh, and yes, I’m still working with our resident pelvic floor therapist, Lindsey.)
During that first session, with every passing second sitting on their comfy couch, I gradually felt calmer. That’s saying a lot for a neurotic Natalie. Plus, the place smelled like 100 bouquets of lavender and magic healing potions (peace out ✌🏾, stressful thoughts). Katinka served me a warm herbal tea (women’s health blend) while we went over Mayan Ab massage and its relationship to women’s health and incontinence. She asked thorough Qs about my health history to better understand my body.
Then, Katinka pulled out a model of the pelvic floor. She pointed at the uterus (which Katinka refers to in she/her pronouns...amazing, right?) and said that it (or she) leans a tad bit over the bladder in the center of the pelvis—our pelvic muscles, vaginal wall, and ligaments hold it all up. That’s strength, yo!
She said that uterine ligaments are created to streeeeeeeetch. And, as we’ve discussed before, the ligaments and muscles can weaken over time. The loosening of those muscles can cause her (your uterus) to fall down, forward, backward, left or right, which means it’s tilted or prolapsed. Katinka said that by shifting the uterus back into place the pelvic area can be restored. This means space is made for your organs to live comfortably.
If the uterus is tilted or prolapsed, it could be adding extra pressure to the bladder, and there’s not much a doc can/will do to align it back to normal, and this is where Arvigo™ Therapy comes in.
While on the massage table, Katinka massaged my stomach gently. She checked the placement of my uterus and bladder. Low and behold, my uterus was tilted and pushing against my bladder. I had no idea! Well, other than having trouble holding my pee for five extra minutes during my morning commute.
Then, she placed a castor oil pack and heating pad on my belly to relax it. I learned that castor oil packs can naturally help with liver detoxification, support uterine and ovarian health, improve lymphatic circulation, and reduce inflammation. Daaaamn! And on the receiving end, it felt like wellness fairies were waltzing in merriment on my stomach. It was straight up mind, body, nerve, and organ therapy coming together all at once.
Katinka gave me a self-care notes to be carried out 5x a week for about 1-5 mins each.
3 Deep belly breaths: *focus on the belly rising and fully expanding*
Upper Abdominal massage: using my pointer and middle fingers to focus on drawing the stomach down and into the center.
Lower Abdominal massage: using my pointer and middle fingers to stroke the center and both sides of my lower stomach. Repeat 3 times.
Castor oil packs 2-4 times per month (or more!).
Apple cider vinegar or warm water with lemon juice in the morning to wake up the digestive system.
Cut back on irritants and inflammatory foods like caffeine, sugar, alcohol (but not all 😉 ) to see if that helps.
Visualizing that I’m in control and can trust my body parts.
The massage and self-care techniques can shift the uterus forward into a more central position and take the pressure off the bladder. I was honestly very nervous (ha, irony) as to whether or not I’d be able to lock down time to do it all. She explained that there was no reason to be too hard on myself if I wasn't super meticulous w/ 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. Very low pressure. I felt like I was getting to know my body better. It amazes me how long I've gone without acquainting myself to my own insides. Disembodiment is a disempowerment, y'all.
I came back for a follow-up visit about two weeks ago. I told Katinka that the intentional visualization resonated most with me. Between Lindsey telling me that, “Over time, If you always went ‘just in case’, you might’ve taught your body and brain to trigger that you have to go before your bladder is full” and Katinka encouraging me to trust my body with intentional massages and breathing exercises, I rewired my brain slightly. I am waaay chiller about holding my pee. I mean, I’m def not fully cured, but I feel more in control.
If you wanna explore Arvigo™ Therapy and find a practitioner in your area, go here.
*~Have questions, suggestions, or anything specific you want me to try? Send me a note! firstname.lastname@example.org~*