These three types of Asian bodywork techniques—chi nei tsang, shiatsu, and tui na—aim to bring the body into balance to encourage healthy conception, pregnancy, and baby. And they feel great, too.
While the methods used in tui na (pronounced tway-na), shiatsu (shee-aht-su) and chi nei tsang (chee-nayt-song) may differ somewhat, they share a common theme of trying to bring the body into balance for maximum health and fertility. “All focus on finding the balance between yin and yang,” says Gonzalo Flores, L.Ac., M.Ac.OM, co-founder of GroundSpring Healing Center in Portland, Oregon. A simple way to understand yin and yang is to think about muscles. According to Flores, everything in your body that’s overused, overextended, or pulled is yang; conversely, anything that’s sore, fatigued, or weak is yin. “If you apply that to fertility,” Flores explains, “a practitioner will ask questions such as whether a woman has pain and whether she’s ovulating.” The practitioner will try to determine what’s causing “chi”—or energy—to be blocked.
Asian approaches to healing, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, always emphasize the whole person—body, mind, and spirit–and treatment focuses on how these three elements affect one another. The practitioner’s goal is to bring your body back into its natural state of balance so you can conceive, carry, and deliver a healthy baby. To that end, it’s not uncommon for acupuncture, herbs, supplements, and nutritional and lifestyle changes to be part of a months-long protocol you’ll be asked to follow in addition to regular visits for bodywork. Because few of these techniques have been scientifically studied in the West, be sure to talk to your doctor before trying them, especially if you’re undergoing any kind of fertility treatments.
Chi Nei Tsang
What it Is
“Chi nei tsang is a Taoist approach brought to the U.S. by a Thai man named Mantak Chia,” says Linda Becker, C.M.T., L.M.T., a certified Asian bodywork therapist in Phoenix, Arizona. The approach is based on the belief that organs in the abdominal area become congested. “Stagnation from what we eat, from pollution, and emotions are a part of a weakening process, especially if we’re constantly engaging in negative emotions,” explains Becker. According to Taoist tradition, each of the organs has both a positive and negative emotion related to it, which is part of the balance. The abdomen has to be “open” for the body to be healthy and optimally fertile.
How it Works to Promote Fertility
A chi nei tsang practitioner uses the belly button as a guide to making an assessment. “The navel should be completely symmetrical, but if there are pulls, ridges, or lines of tension, then that tells me what organ in the system is having an issue and what emotion might be attached to that,” explains Becker. During a treatment, the practitioner uses the pads of several fingers to apply gentle but firm pressure to various points in the abdominal area to release tension, tightness, and congestion, trying to get energy, or chi (pronounced chee) moving freely again. “The chi nei tsang techniques help to work out emotional charges from the past that can interfere with a healthy pregnancy,” says Gilles Marin, director of the Chi Nei Tsang Institute in Berkeley, California. “These often manifest as low sperm count and prostate problems for a man, and endometriosis and other gynecological problems for a woman. Even when no physical symptom for infertility can be found, chi nei tsang treatments can allow deep-seated patterns of tension to leave the body,” he asserts. Stress reduction and dietary modifications are also important components of the treatment.
What it Costs
A treatment lasts 30 to 60 minutes and costs about $50 to $150 per hour.
For More Information
For a list of certified practitioners, contact the Chi Nei Tsang Institute (www.chineitsang.com; 510-848-9558); the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA; www.aobta.org; 856-782-1616); or use the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s database at www.nccaom.org (go to the “Find a Practitioner” tab and then look for the Asian Bodywork Therapy designation).