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The Mayan abdominal massage




In recent years we have seem more of this traditional massage in the USA. Growing up in Central America I am very familiar with this therapy. Every time we had an "empacho" or a special type of indigestion, we needed one of these massages to get well. 

I have to say, though, that in those days we did not called it a therapy. We called it a tradition, a myth, a belief, something almost "witch-like" from our grand moms, something not modern. We did not have a lot of respect for this "therapy".



We called it a "sobado," and to have a great "abdominal massage" or "sobado," you needed to go to a "sobadora or sobador" (a therapist woman or man). These "sobador" were people who learned the "therapy" from their ancestors and had a "good hand."    

It was a pleasant surprise to learn that in recent years we have seen the sobados coming to the USA. Of course in this country the sobado is a therapy and the people who practice them have to learn the technique and pay a lot of money for it. They are learning the technique not from Mayan descendents but from a few American experts who got interested in the massage and spent years learning it in the rural parts of Central America or in the USA. We are glad they are interested in our traditions.

What is the Mayan abdominal massage?
It is a traditional massage in the abdomen region practiced in many countries in Latin America. It helps to improve digestion, correct digestion related problems, and to help the reproductive organs. 

In some Central American countries and Southern Mexico, traditionally this massage is used for women who have low uterus or dislocated uterus. It is believed that the uterus can move out of position and cause problems, among them painful periods, infertility, etc. For this purpose, the massage is traditionally done by a "partera" or midwife. A regular sobador usually cannot perform this massage, but some do. 

Most commonly the massages are done by sobaderas to cure digestion related problems. If someone feels bloated, has gas, suffers from abdominal pain, and has lost appetite, it is believed that the person has an illness called "empacho." There is no translation for this word, but we can call it indigestion. Usually it does no go away with regular over the counter medicines and there are cases of people who have gone to intensive medical treatment without any results but a "sobado" solves the problem. 

Such is the case of a friend of mine who happens to be a doctor specialized in gastro intestinal illnesses. His mother insisted that he had an empacho, but he was a doctor married to another doctor, and they did not believe in mythological empachos. To make a long story short, after a few weeks of illness, and to stop his mom from pestering him, he had a sobado and got cured within a matter of hours. He is still not prescribing these massages to patients, though. 

Rosita Orvigo and the USA sobados
Rosita is an alternative medicine practitioner from Chicago. She studied for 12 years with what she calls a Mayan shaman in Belize and learned the technique from him. She teaches the technique in the USA, it seems mostly to treat reproductive organs. She has trademarked her technique (we though it was Mayan) because she added her own knowledge and actively promotes it. 

Where to find a Mayan Abdominal massage? 

On Rosita Orvigo's website, you can find listings of practitioners in the Orvigo Technique (TM). Rosita's technique can be helpful to women dealing with infertility, men with swollen prostates, and other conditions. 

We are glad Rosita and others are rescuing some great Latin traditions and wisdom that otherwise will disappear. Rosita's trainees are probably the most capable practitioners in the USA. 

You may also ask Central American or Mexican friends if they know of a sobador in the area. On my part I massage my abdomen myself and do believe in the technique at least for indigestions. I have not tried it for other treatments.   

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