Casual hugs are great, but what happens when you make a hug intentional in your abdomen? Try this exercise for general abdominal health, as well as for abdominal pain:
1. Choose a partner or a friend who you feel very comfortable hugging, and who feels very comfortable with you.
2. Be sure to choose someone who will be okay if you break down in tears, or break out in laughter, or have some other emotional response during this exercise. You won’t necessarily have an emotional response, but it’s good to have your bases covered.
3. Standing apart, each of you take at least 30 seconds to begin breathing into your bellies. Take as long as you need until each of you is able to gently but intentionally work the breath down into the belly as you breathe in and out. You can put on some gentle music if that will help you feel relaxed.
4. Hug each other, your bellies pressing together. Don’t hug too hard, loose arms are fine, but make sure there is semi-firm contact between your abdomens.
5. Stay in this position for as long as is comfortable for both of you, feeling your bellies breathing together, each moving against the other.
The point of this exercise is to let your belly relate to another belly. Especially when we are experiencing abdominal pain a lot of the time, we can begin to feel isolated in our own bodies. In addition to the excellent energetic benefits of being in safe physical contact with another human being and belly, this exercise is a gentle and wonderful reminder that there are all kinds of bellies in the world and we are in community with them all!
And, as always, if you are looking for a way to pro-actively work with your abdominal pain or dysfunction, consider the free Getting Started program!