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Can a 90-minute stomach massage improve sleep?

Life coach and wellness expert Hattie MacAndrews tried ancient massage technique Chi Nei Tsang to see if it would help her sleep better and feel happier.

chi nei tsang
March 24, 2023
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Life coach Hattie MacAndrews is on a mission to cut through the noise in the increasingly crowded wellness industry, and find out what really works when it comes to finding happiness.

After trying everything from acupuncture, to craniosacral therapy, this week Hattie tried ancient massage technique Chi Nei Tsang, which is believed to improve sleep and eliminate stress.

Young woman in houndstooth dress

Hattie MacAndrews is trying different wellness rituals to see what really works

What is Chi Nei Tsang?

Chi Nei Tsang is an ancient form of Chinese massage which claims to release emotional blockages that are physically trapped in our body.

We all know that unexpected emotions, such as surprise or nerves, can prompt physical responses in the body, such as going red, sweating, heart palpitations, knots or butterflies in your stomach.

I always assumed these responses were fleeting, but Chi Nei Tsang says that these worry, stress and tension can be stored in our bodies, creating a knotting of the nervous, blood vessels and lymphatic nodes.

MORE FROM HATTIE: 'My tears stopped instantly when I tried this 20-minute trick'

The ancient massage technique is said to aid 'general wellness' and help to restore and re-balance the body back to its original function – something I'd been struggling with after a painful breakup.

Studies have shown that many of the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness and wellness are produced in the intestine, so it's logical that a healthy intestine will better perform its function, and improve overall (and emotional) health.

My technician explained that Chi Nei Tsang can improve the quality of our sleep. Serotonin is stored in the stomach, and so when it's released, it not only makes us feel happier but it ignites the melatonin in the brain, which will help us to sleep.

chi Nei Tsang© Photo: Getty Images

Chi Nei Tsang is an ancient massage technique

What does a Chi Nei Tsang session involve?

Chi Nei Tsang focuses on a gentle, deep massage of the abdomen, to 'train' the internal abdominal organs to function in a more efficient manner, which is believed to enhance our physical and emotional wellbeing.

READ: 'This 20-second trick turned me into a morning person'

The treatment claims to detox and cleanse your internal organs, stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems, strengthen the immune system, improve digestive function and help you to 'get things going', so to speak.

What happened when I tried Chi Nei Tsang?

During the session, I lay on a padded mat close to the floor, with my clothes on and covered in towels. The set-up was similar to a traditional massage, so it felt relaxing and calming as opposed to clinical.

The treatment lasted for 90mins, and she used a sequence of deep, soft and gentle pressure on my abdomen, rib and pelvic area.

HATTIE'S COLUMN: 'What is craniosacral therapy and will it make me happier? A life coach explains all'

Guided by my breath, the intensity was increased as I breathed out, allowing her to push further down on to my organs. It was very relaxing, with some points feeling slightly tender and sensitive.

Oils were used to enhance relaxation, as the more chilled you are, the more effective the therapist can be at identifying your organs and treating specific parts on your body. If at times I felt my muscles involuntarily contract, or was unable to relax fully, she released my ligaments through gentle rocking, stretching and shaking. The session ended with a mixture of breathwork, and chanting healing sounds.

Does Chi Nei Tsang work?

I have to say, the session was incredibly relaxing and restorative, and I left feeling cleansed and renewed. It can be difficult to measure the impact of each treatment individually, and often it takes a 360 approach to your own individual health and wellness to find out what really works for you.

Young woman smiling

Chin Nei Tsang proved beneficial to Hattie

Who is Chi Nei Tsang good for

I would recommend this treatment for anyone feeling lethargic, struggling with digestive issues or just off-balance in some way. It feels very cathartic and nurturing to have your stomach massaged, and you will benefit from 90 minutes of that – even if that's all you take away from it.

I will definitely be including Chi Nei Tsang treatments in my monthly regime going forward, it's brilliant self-care and much needed me-time!

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