Maya Massage: A Healing Practice Women Should Know
By Linda Knittel, Editor-in-Chief
If symptoms are the body’s way of saying something is wrong, then the erratic periods, heavy bleeding, severe cramping and cystic acne I developed at the age of 38 were more like a scream for help. My reproductive system suddenly felt off-kilter. Turns out, that’s precisely what a Maya abdominal massage practitioner discovered when she worked on me, and remarkably, a subtle realignment of my uterus made all the difference.
What Is Maya Abdominal Massage?
In a nutshell, Maya abdominal massage, or “the work” as many practitioners call it, is an ancient external, non-invasive technique used to treat an array of health issues in both women and men; namely, preventing or realigning a fallen or tilted uterus, easing a swollen prostate and improving digestion, as well as facilitating the normal flow of energy throughout the entire body. “The work is all about restoring the body to proper hemodynamics, which means the adequate flow of blood and proper lymphatic drainage. Once that is established, we know that the internal healing powers of the body will take over,” says Corrine Porterfield-Brown, LMT, a Maya massage practitioner in Portland, Oregon.
At the start of my first session, Porterfield-Brown led me into a tranquil room complete with massage table, soothing music and a thick cloud of sweet smelling copal, a tree resin that when burned is believed to rid a person of harmful thoughts, cleanse a space of fear or envy, and act as an offering to the Mayan gods and goddesses. After filling out a lengthy questionnaire on everything from the color of my menstrual blood to my food allergies, we talked in depth about my symptoms, my health history, and how I was feeling both emotionally and spiritually. “A woman’s uterus is the spiritual center of her being. If it’s out of balance, then her entire life will be imbalanced.” says Rosita Arvigo, a Chicago-born naprapathic doctor who spent 12 years in Belize apprenticing with Don Elijio Panti, one of the last Mayan shamans in Central America, and later began teaching the techniques and certifying practitioners around the world.
Arvigo estimates nearly 90 percent of women will have a misplaced or tipped uterus at some point in their lives, due to everyday events such as falls, running and wearing high heels. “If your uterus is misplaced a whole host of symptoms can arise—like the ones you’re dealing with,” says Porterfield-Brown.
The massage is performed in a traditional and specific way passed down from Panti to Arvigo and then from Arvigo to her four hundred or so certified students. It begins by applying a light coat of oil to the belly; in this case Porterfield-Brown used oil made from herbs collected in Belize under the full moon, although she says any massage oil or even olive oil will do. Next, with her hands together, palms down, thumbs hooked together, she placed her fingertips on the upper edge of my pelvic bone right in the center. She slowly and firmly pressed downward, then ran them toward my belly button as though scooping a hole in the sand. She did this two more times; then she moved to the left edge of the pelvic bone, scooped toward the center three times and then moved on to the right side. “Ah-ha, your uterus is way over to the right,” she said. “Want to feel it?”
She guided my hands through the scooping movements in the center and on the left side of my pelvis. Then, when we tried to perform the same movement on the right, there was resistance—I simply could not scoop nearly as deeply. It was amazing; I could clearly feel my uterus had shifted to the right. Porterfield-Brown worked a bit more on realigning my uterus, then sent me home with instructions to perform the massage on myself two or three times a week between menstrual cycles. In addition, she started me on a three-month regimen of an herbal tonic used to shed the uterine walls of old, hardened blood. “Cleaning the uterine wall and returning the uterus to the right position provides it with a good blood supply, so it no longer has to work as hard—cramping and squeezing to clean itself out,” says Arvigo.
Over the next few months I had one more session with Porterfield-Brown; I managed to do the self-care massage twice a week and was pretty good about taking my herbs. By the middle of the second month, my cycles had gone back to normal in length and volume, my cramps had drastically diminished, and my skin had cleared up dramatically. Frankly I was stunned. It was true, my body had returned to balance as soon as my uterus was centered. What’s more, a mere four months after starting the treatment I was pregnant. I call those results!