The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® (ATMAT)
A lengthy title (for a marvelous set of skills), that aims to credit the multiple origins of the techniques.
A long line of traditional Maya midwives, herbalists, spiritualists and bodyworkers (usually wearing all or many of these hats at once), shared generations of knowledge with each other and Dr. Arvigo during the many years of her mentorship with the renown Maya healer Don Eligio Panti. All contributed their invaluable knowledge and experience to the system of massage techniques, herbal medicine and lifestyle guidance that is now being shared throughout the world.
Dr. Rosita Arvigo has a background in Naprapathy, a holistic modality treating disorder/injury of ligaments and other connective tissues via non-invasive manipulation, exercise and nutrition. Her understanding of the structure of the pelvis and the body, combined with the practices used traditionally to correct many health issues, now form what we call the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy (ATMAT).
ATMAT is famous as a particularly beneficial uterine medicine. With a focus on pelvic and uterine alignment and health it can help to treat many female reproductive and menstrual issues. Don Elijio believed that: “The uterus is a woman’s center. If it is out of balance, everything in her life will be physically, emotionally and spiritually out of balance.”
As wonderful as that is, since all humans have pelvises and abdominal organs and stress, it is also greatly beneficial in treating ailments of the digestive and urinary tracts, male reproductive issues, and pain- in any body- experienced in these regions. In my practice there is room for people to identify beyond their sex organs! If you have a uterus this work can help. If you don’t, this work can help! If you have a challenging relationship with your body, if you love your body, if you have a body…this work has something to offer you.
The primary treatment principle is to improve flow. As an acupuncturist, who was taught that the basis for all our pain is stagnation, the theories of ATMAT fall right in line with my understanding of health and are a beautiful compliment to my clinical experience.
Dr. Rosita and Don Elijio focus on improving what they deemed The 5 Flows.
Blood– both Venous and Arterial
and Chu’lel (the Mayan word for Qi!)
By applying massage to the abdomen (from rib cage to pubic bone in the front; and low back, sacrum, and glutes in the back) we contact areas that have often been hurt, ignored or are simply stuck from lack of movement! The stasis can be from surgical scar tissues, emotional traumas, postural patterns, or structural imbalance. It is an area often given little attention outside of child bearing, weight issues and all the imagery around sex appeal and fitness ‘ideals’. Often these lead people to disconnect from their bodies as they are riddled with negative emotions or discomforts. There are many more ways we can learn to communicate with and relate to our bellies. We can honor them as the source of our nutritional intake, as our place of origin, as a seat of intelligence.
Our gut is now credited by western medicine as a second brain and likely you’ve experienced a ‘gut feeling’ about people or places and this is your inner intelligence communicating with you. The nerve and chemical signaling that happens in our guts informs our moods and, as a host for billions of beneficial bacteria, it is the root of our immune system . It is a tender and vulnerable but also a complex, resilient and venerable area that deserves respect!
Perhaps you’ve never really thought about listening or relating to your belly. Maybe you feel conflicted about it. Perhaps you feel very aware of discomfort – how do you relate to it? Are you mad at your body? Maybe there is a loss being grieved- a pregnancy, or an activity you could once or hoped to do … that perhaps you identified as ‘you’, but circumstances are changing. This work can help us work through physical as well as emotional blocks in belly and pelvic areas by learning to approach them with more compassion, curiosity and positive self-regard.
The cherry-on-top of this amazing body work is that it is primarily about self-care…not the self care you come to me to do for you…this is something you get to take into your own hands. Literally. I will teach you a brief routine that is the magic center of this practice. How often you do it and the results you get will by and large depend on you. I say this not to burden you but to empower. Yes, you could come every week to see me, absolutely …but we all know there are many factors that could make that hard to sustain. It’s much more practical and beneficial to set aside 5-10 minutes a day to breathe and just feel where you are at, physically, emotionally, and mentally; to give yourself the gift of your own loving attention.
Our first session together involves exploring your health history, what’s going on for you in the present time, and what goals you might be approaching with this work. This talking time is traditionally called a ‘platica’ – a conversation where you get to share, and ask questions. It’s an opportunity for us to get a feel for each other before the hands-on session begins. Then you receive a full ATMAT treatment. You will also be taught the self-care massage and given a handout to reference at home. We will discuss additional things you might change at home to help your condition like adding/reducing certain foods, and activities. We may also go over additional supportive treatments like castor oil packs, pelvic steaming, and herbal tinctures.
It is best to schedule an abdominal massage when one is not menstruating but modifications can be made if that’s the time when schedules align. Usually coming once a month for a few months to get the full treatment in concert with your regular self care can resolve many issues. During pregnancy the recommended frequency of visits increases as you get closer to delivery. If interested in abdominal massage for fertility it is recommended to give 3 months of treatments/self care for regulating menstrual cycles, addressing pelvic pain etc. before ‘trying’. Often though, folks find out about this modality when already in the midst of working with assisted reproductive technologies. I will always do my best to meet you where you are. Improving the 5 Flows will always be of benefit.