It’s official, I am now trained in the amazing therapeutic technique known as Chi Nei Tsang. You may recall me mentioning this massage in my blog: http://bradthenomad.blogspot.com/2011/03/yoga-in-thailand.html.
What exactly is Chi Nei Tsang? It is an in-depth abdominal massage handed down from ancient Chinese Taoist tradition. This style of massage was almost lost but for the work of Master Mantak Chia, who happens to be based in my happy place, Chiang Mai, Thailand. My instructor, teacher Oo, worked for several years with Master Chia at his world renowned healing center, Tao Gardens. The main goal of Chi Nei Tsang is to improve the movement of Chi (life force) throughout the body. It is great for digestive issues,detoxing your organs and releasing stress and negative emotions. It is surprising how the abdomen stores a lot of our pain, both physical and emotional. You know that time when you were really angry or worried but you just kind of bottled the feelings inside? Well I am afraid there is likely still some vestige of this knotted in your belly. This massage can help work a lot of this out.
My training has given me a whole new respect for the navel area. I always thought of it is rather insignificant but now I know better. If you think about it, at the start of your life the navel was the source of all your energy and in the other direction released all your toxins. When the umbilical cord is cut we begin to use digestive, respiratory, lymphatic, etc systems to take over the functions the humble navel was performing. Now the navel may not be your sole lifeline anymore but believe me there is a lot going on in this area. When doing the massage you can feel a tremendous concentration of the circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems and the massage helps to clear any blockages there may be in these systems, optimizing the flow of Chi throughout the body.
As for the massage itself, one interesting aspect is at the beginning where you take a diagnostic look at the navel to determine what direction any issues may lie. I may have been a little skeptical about this but for one of the first cases I dealt with. He had recently broken ribs on one side and looking at his navel it was clear as day where the trouble was. Also at the beginning of the treatment you check to see if the persons legs appear to be the same length. When you get further along in the massage there is a point where you massage to release the psoas muscle. What is the psoas? It is a somewhat obscure longer muscle connected from the side of the lumbar spine to the lower pelvis, essentially connecting the legs to the upper body. I know it is important because my yoga teacher Emma is often telling me to flex or release it 🙂 What does that feel like? I really can’t say (maybe in a few more years 😉 But I digress. I was working on someone who’s leg appeared noticeably shorter than the other to start off. After some focused work on the psoas, what do you know, the legs were even-steven.
The digestive system gets the lion’s share of attention with this massage and there are great results with constipation and other digestive maladies. The other major organs of the abdomen such as the liver, pancreas, kidneys, etc also get massaged which helps to detox and invigorate them. Though it has deep and intense components to it, overall I find Chi Nei Tsang super-relaxing. If you get a chance to receive this massage from someone who has been properly trained, go for it!!