Feeling Stuffed? Try This Ayurvedic Belly Massage For Digestion
Whether you ate too much at dinner or you're experiencing a bout of bloat, Ayurvedic self-massage, or Abhyanga, is a great way to combat it. It's simple, only takes a few minutes, and all you'll need is your massage oil of choice. Here's how to do it, according to physician and Ayurveda expert Avanti Kumar-Singh M.D.
How to massage your belly for better digestion:
- Choose your oil depending on your dosha. Think raw sesame oil if you're vata dominant, coconut or sunflower oil if you're pitta dominant, and jojoba or almond oil if you're kapha dominant.
- Place your palms on the center of your belly. Take three slow, deep breaths to bring yourself into the present moment.
- Warm the oil in your hands. Applying gentle pressure with the pads of your fingers, move in a circular motion starting at the lower-left corner of your belly.
- Move at your own pace across the bottom of your belly from the lower-left corner to the lower-right corner.
- Then continue up the right side to just under your rib cage and then back across to the left side.
- Finish by going down the left side back to your starting point in the lower-left corner of your abdomen.
- Repeat this circular pattern a few times.
How does it work?
"Abhyanga is a nourishing practice that decreases accumulated stress and toxins from the body and mind," Kumar-Singh explains to mbg. A simple belly massage can also provide myofascial release of the connective tissue of the abdomen and improve digestion by essentially mimicking it, she explains. In other words, you're using your own touch to help move things through.
On top of that, self-massage can stimulate the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps the body relax. And when our bodies rest, our digestion improves. It's why the parasympathetic nervous system is also known as the "rest-and-digest" system.
The bottom line.
No one is immune to a little tummy upset once in a while. Wacky digestion can leave you feeling lethargic, bloated, and nauseous—no thanks. But with a little TLC in the form of Abhyanga, you can get things moving, relax your body and mind, and support your digestive tract all at the same time.
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Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.