BAMBOO and plush green velvet furniture. Soft lights. New Age-y, tranquil spa music. As I stepped into Maria Renner’s office, calm washed over me. I’d been a little nervous about the next 90 minutes, but that eased when I saw—or felt, really—the soothing place where the magic happened.
Abalone Holistic Therapies, owned and operated by Renner, a certified massage therapist, is one of only a handful of practices in Indiana that offers abdominal massage therapy. I’d never heard of it. Belly rubs? For what? Apparently, it stems from an ancient Mayan practice. Intrigued, there I stood, ready to find out what the buzz was all about.
Renner was as warm and welcoming as her space. She explained why both men and women wind up there. “The organs of the abdomen and pelvis, including the uterus, ovaries, prostate, and intestines, can shift over time, or swell, restricting the flow of blood, other fluids, and Chi.” The blockages can trigger a long list of ailments, she continued. Besides that, AMT is supremely relaxing. After Renner carefully reviewed my health history form, I was briefed on the troubles that can arise for young women like myself, aided by a life-size (!) replica of a uterus.
I hopped up on the massage table (heated and cushy. Ahhh …) and slipped under a sheet and a soft, thick blanket. I found out that AMT is not just about the abdomen. Massages are customized, but Renner always begins on the back, the most common tension area. When I flipped over, I saw the star-covered tapestry of a night sky on the ceiling. Dreamy. Then Renner had me take a few deep breaths of peppermint essential oil before massaging my legs and feet with it. Finally, she used different hand movements on my upper and lower abdomen, moving along the rib cage and pelvic and hip bones.
Massage over, Renner showed me how to perform the basics on myself, noting that best results are seen with repetition. Typical full-body massages are hard, if not impossible, to do on yourself. “What’s unique about AMT is that it can be a powerful self-care practice, a tool to enhance well-being throughout life,” says Renner.
So, my verdict? I went in skeptical, but left feeling amazing. Even the next day, I was less tense. Better, I’m more educated on how my body functions and what I can do to help it.