Bodywork – Opening the Belly

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REMINDER: If you want to learn to do “real” Bodywork, you must find a qualified teacher — someone who has “hands on” experience — and therefore can help you to learn to judge the amount of pressure to apply.

That being said, applying moderate pressure while playing with these exercises will give you feel for what Bodywork is about.


Important cautions

Please note the following important cautions before following this exercise.

Not all exercise is suitable for everyone, and this or any exercise programme may result in injury. Consult with your doctor before you use the exercises from the The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages and videos.

To reduce the risk of injury, never force or strain yourself during exercise. If you feel pain, stop and seek medical attention if necessary. Those with special health considerations should consult their medical practitioner before performing any exercise.

The creators, producers, performers of The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages and videos cannot guarantee that this product is suitable and safe for every individual.

Any liability, loss or damage in connection with the use of The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages instruction, including but not limited to any liability, loss or damage arising from the performance of the exercises demonstrated here, or any advice or information provided by The Phoenix Centre for Creative Living’s Bodywork pages in the videos, or on the website, is expressly disclaimed.

Belly Release

The belly is the home of the lower dan tian — according to Chinese Medicine, a major storehouse of chi. The chi rises from the earth, up the legs, and through the Root Chakra; then, the energy is then stored in a place two inches below the navel.

The belly is the home of much energy.

The belly is a vulnerable place. It’s soft and contains the viscera. We approach this area gently and with respect.

The belly is a hyper-sensitive zone for many people, as indicated by the idea that threats are often described as attacks to our “soft underbelly.” While this is a metaphor, trusting someone enough to give them total access to our stomachs is a major marker of both being in our bodies and being willing to be “open.”

The lower belly/front of the pelvis is the seat of “passion for passion’s sake.” Our sensuality and sexuality, is “located” in the area from the navel to the genitals, and from an energy perspective, passion is caused by the rising of “front pelvic” energy.

In Bodywork, we release the upper body before the pelvis, to give the energy a place to go. You can do the same, by first using the Chest Release, and then doing the following exercise with the belly.

The belly is crisscrossed with muscles, which “hold everything in.” Much tension is often held in this area. Letting go in this zone is key for releasing sexual and physical trauma.

The Belly Massage

We begin by identifying some of the locations: this massage will incorporate both the upper and lower belly — from the bottom ribs to the pubic bone.

  • Begin with the inside of the edge of the pelvis, coloured purple in the photo. Move your fingers outward and upward at a 45 degree angle, along the inside of the pelvis.
  • Slide your fingers down to the top edges of the pubic bone, coloured  yellow.
  • Locate the 2nd Chakra (lower dan tien) coloured black in the photo.
  • Find the lower ribs, (coloured blue) and staying away from the centre where the ribs meet, avoiding the xiphoid process. (red in photo.)
  • Run your fingers along either side of the outside edges of the stomach muscles, coloured  green.

Here’s a video showing four of the locations:

  • Giver: Begin by applying massage oil (the orange area in the photo ) to the upper and lower belly, from below the ribs to the pubic bone, and outward to the inside edges of the pelvis.

  • Giver: Work under and along the ribs, sliding your fingers inside as far as the recipient allows.

  • Giver: Move your hands and apply medium pressure to the lower dan tian, located 2 inches below the navel. You can rub in a small circle, clockwise.

    Ask the person you are working on to monitor the pressure for you. It should feel slightly sore but relaxing.

  • Giver: Re-position your hands so the fingers are pointing down toward the recipient’s feet. Place your fingers along the upper edge of the pubic bone, and press lightly downward into the belly. Your fingers are positioned on the pink coloured spots.

    Hold, and apply light downward pressure.

  • Giver: Move to the side of the recipient’s hips and hook your fingers over the top of the mons pubis. (The yellow area in the photo) Pull downward toward the recipient’s feet.

    Again, ask the person having the massage for direction regarding pressure.

  • Giver: Move now to the inside edges of the pelvis. You can slide your fingers fairly deeply into the muscles here.

    Press and slide your fingers and thumbs along the entire length of the inside of the pelvis, stopping at the top edge, and the pubic bone, respectively.

  • Giver: Apply firm pressure to the acupuncture point “Rushing Door” (spleen 13), which is located on the crease of the leg, half way between the pubic bone and the side of the leg.

    It’s marked with the black stars in the photo to the right.

    This is near to the main leg artery, so be sure to be to the side of the artery.

  • Rushing door is marked with the stars

  • Giver: Now, place your hands perpendicular to the centre line of the body, fingers on one side of centre line, thumbs on the other, and about 5 inches apart. You’re now on either side of the main belly muscle.

    Push down gently, then push your fingers / thumbs together.

    The belly will rise up between your thumbs/fingers; you’ll be squeezing the stomach muscle. Hold this for a breath or two, then slide your fingers along the length of the muscle, from ribs, to pubic bone.

  • Giver: Use one hand to circle the entire belly in a clockwise direction. Each circle gets smaller, ending with your fingers pressing into the navel.

  • Giver: Rest both hands on the belly, and imagine sending warmth, or chi, into the recipient’s belly.

  • Giver: Finish the massage by turning your hands so that the fingers point down. Your little fingers rest against the inside edge of the pelvis, and your fingertips are nestled between the pubic bone and the edge of the pelvis.

Here’s the entire massage, condensed to 5 minutes:

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