Calm your mind, strengthen your digestion

Shiatsu Massage & Breath Work for Mild Digestive Issues

Are you a worrier? Do you over-think things and find yourself constantly “in your head”?

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘rest and digest’?  When your mind is overthinking, your body is not able to digest as easily, and you may notice changes in your appetite, cravings, bloating or gurgling. By practicing some self-Shiatsu Massage techniques and breath work, you can teach your nervous system to relax, calm and rest, helping both your mind, and your tummy

Start with some massage:

Lying down, start with some finger pressure along the lower border of the ribs – floating (lower, by waist) rib on your right side, travel up along the border of your ribs with some gentle kneading.

At the top point of your right rib cage, cross over your midline to the top of your left rib cage and follow down the left border to the lowest ribs on the left side. What did you notice? Is the tissue soft or hard? Do you notice a difference on either side? Repeat this 3-5 times, gently kneading to soften any tension.


Add-in some breath work:

Our breath changes when we worry First begin by growing your awareness around your breathing.  Literally put your finger on it to help move out of this pattern.

Visualize your diaphragm: a dome-shaped muscle, tucked up under the ribcage, it descends down during your inhale. Like an elevator going down. You may notice the pressure expanding like a balloon, where does this pressure go? Into your abdomen, down into your pelvic floor, maybe even expanding in to your ribs and back. The reverse happens on the exhale – the elevator goes up – no muscle work needed, the diaphragm relaxes and returns back to its’ starting point.

To allow this process to happen fully, practice your inhale and exhale in even lengths, count to 5 for inhale, count to 5 for exhale. Visualize your elevator/diaphragm traveling down and returning up. When you can relax and feel the pressure from the breath travel down and up – this can take weeks or months of practice – don’t stress if it feels impossible at first.

Try allowing the pressure to expand into your ribs and back, a 360 breath,  not just belly breathing forward but rib and back expansion to sides and back as well. This can be a lovely meditative practice, a powerful tool to nudge yourself into a calmer state of being.

Combine these two things, soften under the ribs, encourage your diaphragm to move more freely.  When we feel better we can address life’s challenges in a calm state; enabling us to settle into our parasympathetic nervous system, where we can “rest & digest”.

Practice this daily and you will begin to become aware of your patterns, and start to notice positive changes.

With simple changes, you can teach your body to settle into the parasympathetic nervous system;  to rest and digest!  You can feel better, and address life’s challenges with a calm, relaxed mind.


by Lori Dufresne