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Five Ways Abdominal Massage Improved My Health In Just Seven Days

Five Ways Abdominal Massage Improved My Health In Just Seven Days

It’s a new year and with that comes the idea of starting fresh and having a clean slate.  I did one of those silly Facebook games to see what my word was for 2016 and it said, “Renewal.”  I love that!  I had already decided this year was for me.  I have spent the last 4 years being pregnant and/or nursing, I have struggled with weight loss, postpartum depression, memory loss, and chronic fatigue from not applying my own oxygen mask before helping others.   To start my year off right, I hosted a two and a half day workshop in my home on the self-care level 1 training from the Arvigo Institute with Donna Zubrod.  She was absolutely fantastic.  It was like entering a red tent of self-awareness and care for a whole weekend.

What happened in the first seven days of doing the self-care work is what has amazed me.  For a routine that is easy enough for a non-professional to learn, the results are profound.  I also happened to be within the timeframe of my menses and I could not apply the lower abdominal work, so I am looking forward to seeing what will happen with 7 days of the full abdominal routine.  I am so excited to be taking the professional level training this summer and bringing this work to my area.  If the self-care response is this fast, imagine what can happen with additional techniques and positioning a therapist can do!

Here are 5 areas that abdominal massage has improved in my health:

  1. Lymphatic System – I woke up the first morning feeling like I had a head cold from the lymphatic cleansing that happened over night. It took several hours for it to clear all the way out. The thought of moving and clearing all that congestion that was sitting in my body was pretty cool. There is nothing like starting your new year with a happy lymphatic system!
  2. Rib Cage – This one has been mind blowing and, honestly, the biggest surprise. After 4 pregnancies and 3 children, my lower rib cage had flared out from all my organs being pushed up and under my ribs during pregnancy. I had begun to resign to the fact that it was just going to stay that way. Even with targeted core exercises to this area, it didn’t seem to want to move. In just 7 days of doing my self-care work, my rib cage is completely flat and back to normal.
  3. Shoulder Blades – Due to the optimal positioning of my lower ribcage, my entire thoracic spine (backbones to which the ribs attach) has begun to shift and adjust. Muscles that have spent years in chronic tension, as they compensated for the flared lower ribs, have begun to adjust and begin to let go. This hasn’t been super fun and there is a deep ache as the muscles and connective tissue begin to unwind, but the results are going to be a better, healthier, happier me!
  4. Hips/Pelvis – Just as my thoracic spine has begun to shift and align into a more optimal position, so have my hips. Again, keep in mind that I haven’t even begun the lower portion of the self-care routine yet. This is all strictly from the upper abdominal massage. My leg muscles that attach to the front (flexors) and inside (adductors) have been adjusting and shifting, I have been having pain in my right periformis/sciatic nerve, and the tendons and ligaments throughout my pelvis have a deep ache as they process the body work that has been going on. One of the things that has always been hard for me is to hold my pelvis in a correct position. I am excited to see how my posture begins to align and correct itself with continued work.
  5. Menses/Moon – I was informed in class that the first and possibly second menses after doing this work would be, well to put it mildly, interesting. I didn’t think a whole lot would be different the first time, because I was due the weekend of the class and skipped the lower abdominal portion. The first morning I woke up, my abdominal cavity was so bloated that I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. It was actually painful to feel my body expanding like that. We were told that things usually get worse before they get better, but I wasn’t anticipating that! I don’t normally get bloated or have cramping symptoms before my moon but I went with the flow and affectionately called it my Arvigo baby for the rest of the weekend! lol

When my moon started to flow, I could tell it was cleansing more deeply than usual and then it finished in half the time. I did learn in class that sciatic pain may be associated with a uterus that is not aligned properly so I am interested to see what happens throughout the next few weeks and my next moon.

Sisterhood from self-care workshop.

Sisterhood from self-care workshop.

I initially put this work on my vision board in 2007 and it took 8 years to manifest this class in my area.  I finally reached a point where I was tired of waiting for it to come to my area and brought the workshop to me.  Has a part of my experience triggered a yearning in yourself to seek out this work?  Are you interested in finding an Arvigo therapist or bringing this workshop to your area?  Are you interested in learning about how bringing lymph, nerve, blood, and chi flow to your abdominal organs may help alleviate Constipation, Digestive Disorders, Pain in the Low Back/Neck/Shoulders/Pelvis, Urinary Incontinence, Scar Tissue/Adhesions, Painful/Irregular Periods, Fertility/Conception, Postpartum, Birth by Cesarean, Endometriosis, Peri-Menopause, Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome, Chronic Bladder and Yeast Infections, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Uterine Fibroids, Ovarian Cysts, Prostate Swelling, Prostatitis and Erectile Dysfunction and more? You can contact the institute directly at

Have you experienced this work and have your own success story?  Please consider sharing in the comments.

How to celebrate your daughter’s first period.

How to celebrate your daughter’s first period.

Women across the globe have started reconnecting with their menstrual cycles and one way is celebrating hen their daughter has their first period, called a menarche’.  When there are so many opportunities to focus on the negative aspect of our natural fertility cycle, taking the time to celebrate the miracle and power of being a woman is important for your physical, emotional and spirit/soul level self.


We recently created a bridging ceremony for our local red tent to welcome newly initiated women into the sisterhood. This is the program that we offer.

Red Ribbon Bridging Ceremony – Place a wide red ribbon on the ground.  We placed our’s at the entry way into the ceremonial space.  (This can be done whether inside or outside.) Place everyone who has already begun menstruating inside the ceremonial space and the virgin girls outside the ceremonial space.

While the initiated is on the “virgin” side of the ribbon explain to her how, as a Goddess, she has 3 representations within herself.  Before her menarche her dominant presence was as the maiden. The Maiden is the young goddess from birth to menarche: learning, growing, striving, and searching. She is Persephone/Kore, and her spirit is also present in “virgin goddesses” such as Artemis/Diana or Athena. She is independent, willful, impulsive, vivacious, and aggressive. Connecting with the Maiden Goddess provides energy for undertaking a new venture, helps us assert our autonomy, and helps us summon resources and seek out what we need.

Next, I like to mention something about the sisters she has to lean on for support and ask questions.  To use her matriarchal tribe to learn, grow and experience both the “positive” and “negative” aspects of womanhood as a sisterhood.  After you have shared the sacredness your community with her, invite her to step over the red ribbon and into the sisterhood.

Finally, explain to her that now that she has started her menarche her dominant presence will be the mother until she no longer has anymore moon cycles.  The Mother is the goddess from menarche to menopause: governing, creating, nourishing, sustaining. She is Demeter, Hera, Gaia. Although her energy can be expressed through physically giving birth and raising children, the term “Mother” should not be taken so literally as to appear limiting. The Mother Goddess is woman (or man) at maturity, with the experience, energy, and inclination to undertake large-scale and long-term endeavors, to manage resources and relationships, to promote positive change in others.  This concludes our bridging ceremony.

We then invite our newest sister to sit on her throne and eat a chocolate bar while her elders create a crown of flowers on her head. We present her with a new journal and have all her new sisters write blessings in it for her while her mother paints her toes red.

I hope this has inspired you to create a special moment with your loved ones when they start menstruating.  We perform our ceremonies during our red tent temple gatherings, every sister who is at our tent is already menstruating and we already journal at every gathering.   Our ceremony has been created to fit within an already established sacred time together.  You may need to alter slightly if there are other girls there for the ceremony who have not experienced their moon time yet. Use your own fertile energy and get creative with what resonates with you and fits the personality of the newest sister.

How to make herbal baby wipes for diaper rash.

How to make herbal baby wipes for diaper rash.

I can’t express how daunting having two kids in diapers is, and when a GI virus goes through the house, my poop diaper tally can reach its limits daily.  Last month supplied an unusually harsh case for Harper Morgan.  It required thinking outside the box yet again.  I have a constant supply of perineum herbs that I offer my doula clients. I started using them for the kids’ diaper rashes during their bath time a little over a year ago, but this last case was so painful I couldn’t get her to sit in the tub.  What is a mama to do?  Then I realized she wasn’t having it with our usual disposable wipes either and decided to see what would happen if I made homemade wipes. She ended up with a combination of herbal wipes and needing the hard core petroleum based ointments from the store.  Yeah, I know, not my usual plug but desperate times called for desperate measures and the non-petroleum products were not cutting it this time.  Wondering what I did?  Here are the recipes that I usually use and an easy modification if you don’t have anywhere to buy perineum sitzs bath or loose herbs quickly.

For my doula clients, I use a modified version of Wellness Mama’s After Birth Sitz Bath.  If you are going to use this for your baby, dilute it a lot.  It is meant to help with symptoms from a vaginal birth and baby won’t need the level of astringent the recipe creates for mama’s healing body.  Truth be told, you can get away with just using calendula and/or lavender herbs and skip the salt all together for diaper rashes.

Here is my version that I keep on hand for doula clients~

  • 1 part Comfrey Leaf
  • 2 parts Lavender Flowers
  • 2 parts Red Raspberry Leaf
  • 1 part Yarrow Flower
  • 1 part Calendula Flowers
  • 1 part Uva Ursi Leaf
  • 1 part Dead Sea Salt

For the video I used ~

  • 2 parts Calendula
  • 1 part Lavender

You can even use an herbal tea bag like Stash Tea and see if all you need is a little gentle lavender.

If you find that desperate times are calling for desperate measures and you need to apply a petroleum based lubricant between diaper changes, this mixture is incredibly hard to blend.  I would highly recommend using a cheap blender that you don’t plan on using the beater for food again.  I also found that the A&D ointment ended up diluting the Desitin, especially if you are buying the extra strength in the purple box.  If I have to make this again, I will probably try just using Desitin and the liquid antacid and keep the strength more concentrated.  We also learned that along with protecting her delicate tush, the mixture created a ripe environment for blow outs.  The cream also created a barrier for the diaper and the poop would end up leaking out the sides.    The recipe that I was given is as follows.

Equal Parts

Bonus Round –

Instead of buying expensive oatmeal bath products to soak in, put your dry oats in your bender to make a powder.  You can add this straight to the bath water and it won’t clog up your drain.  The oatmeal soak will feel soothing to their tender rash and you don’t have to worry about there being anything toxic if they get the water in their mouth.  Do you have some Single Grain Oatmeal left in the pantry, from introducing solids?  You can even repurpose those oats in the bath tub.  I have also heard of mama’s putting the oats in a sock, tying a knot in it and letting their child play with it in the tub. Every time they squeeze the sock it releases oat mixture into the tub and then you can just throw the sock away when you are done.

These are just a few of our go to remedies when a rash comes knocking on our door.  They are especially helpful if you are not nursing and can’t use your breastmilk on the rash.  What are some tried and true ways that you use in your house for rashes?







5 alternatives remedies for colds and allergies

5 alternatives remedies for colds and allergies

It’s that time of year again.  We are full speed ahead into cold, flu and allergy season.  This season is the first time in 4 years that I can take an antihistamine when I need to.  Being sick when pregnant or nursing can be really hard because we have limited options for what we can take and be safe for our children.  It is important to remember that the milk glands are also a mucus gland, and they will dry up with any medication targeting your congestion.  Another popular remedy is using essential oils and most of those oils are also contraindicated during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and with young children in the home.  Here is the routine that I share when asked what I do for a cold or allergies.

First thing I do is make sure that I have PROBIOTICS as a regular part of my diet.  A common way that dis-ease can enter the body is through the gut.  A good line of defense is to take probiotics in the form of fermented food, eating yogurt or taking it as supplement.  Most people have heard of anti-biotics, which is prescribed to fight bacterial infections in the body.  It is against bacteria.  Well, pro-biotics are in favor of the good bacteria that live in your gut.  If you have been sick and needed to take an antibiotic, including an antibiotic IV during labor, you should consider taking probiotics to help replenish the good bacteria that were killed in the process of fighting the disease.

The second thing that I do when I don’t feel well is use my NETI POT twice a day.  This gentle form of flushing the sinuses out has reduced the length of my discomfort and made it easier to breath when it wasn’t safe for me to take an anti-congestant.  Check out my how to video here –

My mom taught me the next step. I am not sure where she learned it from but since vitamin c is water-soluble it can’t really hurt.  As she explained it to me, you take 1000 mil of VITAMIN C starting at the first sign of being sick.  Then take it again every hour until you have a bowel movement.  She told me that as long as you are not going to the bathroom your body is using the vitamin c to fight the disease.  When the vitamin c upsets your GI tract enough to create a movement your body doesn’t need anymore for that day.  You repeat this step daily, every day, until you are better.  I am the only person in my immediate family who does this and I have a way shorter duration of being sick than anyone else.

My friend Amber Allen taught me step four.  She uses STINGING NETTLE capsules to help fight allergies.  I happened to have organic stinging nettle herbs on hand and make a tea or infusion, based on how much time I have.  The difference between a tea and infusion, in its simplest explanation, is how long you steep it for.  You would steep your tea for 2-4 minutes and you would steep your infusion for 4 or more hours.  The longer you steep the herbs the more medicinal properties are released and the stronger the potency of the drink.  I have no herbalist training to explain why it works, I just know her advice was a godsend while nursing and it worked for me.

Stinging nettle infusion using a French Press.

Stinging Nettle infusion using a French Press.

Proceed to this last step with caution, if you are nursing.  I LOVE this remedy and it is an all over great thing to do daily, unless you are nursing, to reduce the overall congestion in your body.    Drink tons of water with LEMON JUICE added to it.  I caution if you are nursing because I have not found someone who can answer whether the anti-congestant benefit of the lemon juice will affect your milk supply or not. I have asked herbalists, LLL leaders, lactation consultants and midwives but no one seems to know that answer.  Best thing to do is proceed slowly and pay attention to your own body.  My body was so fragile with milk supply that it didn’t take much to upset it and I decided to only use this option when pregnant or really, really desperate.

I have heard of other remedies that can be useful but stuck to the tried and true remedies for me.  What remedies have worked for you?

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