I receive emails and phone calls weekly from bodyworkers who are interested in learning abdominal therapy. They ask me which modality they should focus on. That’s a tough question to answer because it really depends on the individual, their commitment level and how they approach the body. So, I’ve outlined three different forms of abdominal therapy that I offer and included a general layout of each of the educational paths. The best way to really know which modality to study is to receive treatments and see which one resonates with you.

The abdominal treatments I offer are influenced by many modalities (not just the abdominal therapies listed here). I’m guided by the individual person, not a particular protocol. So, the treatments I offer morph into something entirely different from one treatment to the next. That said, I encourage anyone who is interested in learning abdominal therapy to learn the protocols from reputable institutions and teachers and go through the entire certification process. I’ve deepened the depth of my knowledge, built confidence, and refined my palpation skills immensely by going through the certification trainings. When it comes to abdominal therapy, there is always more to learn!


Visceral Manipulation™

was developed by world-renowned French Osteopath Jean-Pierre Barral. VM assists functional and structural imbalances throughout the body including musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urogenital, respiratory, digestive and lymphatic dysfunction. It evaluates and treats the dynamics of motion and suspension in relation to organs, membranes, fascia and ligaments. VM aims to increase proprioceptive communication within the body, thereby addressing symptoms of pain, dysfunction, and poor alignment. VM is a low force way of working with the bodies own intelligence. Visceral Manipulation™ is VERY specific in its evaluation and treatment. For example, we don’t just treat the uterus in general, we’re pinpointing where the exact restriction is. For instance, I may be specifically working with the right uterosacral ligament or perhaps the left round ligament, etc. Or in the case of the liver, I may be working to release restriction at the left triangular ligament or falciform ligament. Visceral Manipulation™ is the most specific approach out of any modality I’ve been trained in. Visceral Manipulation™ doesn’t have a self-care component because it’s too difficult to do on oneself. Although, it does work with the bodies innate healing capacity and intelligence. In fact, we space treatments out 2-3 weeks in order to allow the body to self-correct. Another interesting thing about the VM approach is that I may work with the liver (or other structure) to address bladder issues. Everything is connected! The body will let me know where to work. You should also know that if you are a bodyworker and want to specialize in reproductive organs, you must first take VM1 and VM2 before taking VM3 (the pelvis).

Jean-Pierre Barral

Jean-Pierre Barral

Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®
Dr Rosita Arvigo and Don Elijio Panti

Dr. Rosita Arvigo and Don Elijio Panti

Dr. Rosita Arvigo, DN developed these techniques, after apprenticing with Don Elijio Panti, the last of the Traditional Maya Shaman in Central America, where she has lived for over 30 years. The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® combine modern science with traditional healing and wisdom to produce a holistic path to physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® (ATMAT) may incorporate massage, herbs, nutrition, meditation and emotional/spiritual healing into a holistic approach for wellness depending on the Arvigo Practitioner you work with. But, the Arvigo work will always include abdominal massage from the pubic bone to the ribcage and posterior work as well. The massage is a non-invasive, external massage. It is our experience that these techniques support digestive and reproductive health by restoring circulation and energy flow as well as reducing congestion and inflammation of the abdomen. The Arvigo Therapy® also incorporates massage and manual therapy along the sacrum, coccyx, lumbar and thoracic areas of the body and should include the teaching of abdominal self-care massage. The Arvigo techniques are known mostly for repositioning the uterus to its ideal position, but it also benefits women who have had hysterectomies and men by enhancing blood and lymph flow and nerve conduction. As with the Chi Nei Tsang, the Arvigo® work does include a self-care component.

Barbara and Dr Rosita Arvigo under the full moon in Belize.

Me and Dr. Rosita Arvigo under the full moon in Belize.

Chi Nei Tsang

is a form of bodywork used thousands of years ago in China by Taoist monks to strengthen and purify their bodies on their journey to enlightenment. It’s based on the five element theory of Chinese Medicine, so this modality may resonate with acupuncturists or bodyworkers who practice Chi Kung. CNT encompasses abdominal massage, breath work and Chi Kung principles. CNT aims to flush toxins from the liver, lymph and colon, improve digestion, aid elimination, stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems, relieve back, shoulder, and muscle tension, improve breathing restrictions, increase vitality, and clear unprocessed emotions. Any of the abdominal therapies may address unprocessed emotions, but I believe Chi Nei Tsang has a stronger apparent focus on this (at least in my training). I trained with Kyle Cline and Mantak Chia. Another major piece of Chi Nei Tsang is teaching self-care techniques (massage and healing sounds). In fact, Chi Nei Tsang practitioners refer to those seeking treatment as students, not patients and think of themselves as teachers, not practitioners, or healers. Chi Nei Tsang is very empowering to those who receive treatment.

Kyle Cline

Kyle Cline

Master Mantak Chia

Master Mantak Chia


Visceral Manipulation™

The training for Visceral Manipulation™ is extensive and ongoing. You will never be done learning when you go down this path (which in my opinion is a good thing). It’s recommended to retake classes and join study groups to refine your skills. Knowing your anatomy is crucial! The best teachers I know never stop learning. As a Visceral Manipulation™ practitioner, I’m constantly studying anatomy and have an anatomy App on my phone and I love curling up with a cup of tea to watch dissection videos on a Friday night. 🙂 Here is a brief outline of Visceral Manipulation™ courses. I haven’t listed them all, because like I said, there is always more to learn:

  • L1- Osteopathic manual evaluation techniques
  • L2- An Integrative Approach To Evaluation
  • VM1-Abdomen Liver, Stomach, Intestines
  • VM2- Spleen, Kidneys
  • VM3- Pelvic Organs
  • VM4- Thorax
  • VM5- Manual Thermal Evaluation
  • VM6-VisceroEmotional Relationships
  • see the official Barral website for other course offerings

To give you an idea of the financial commitment, at the time of me writing this article each four-day class averaged between $795-$970-Please confirm on the Barral official website.

Find more information at the Barral Institute website.


Education at the Arvigo Institute starts with the self-care class. Everyone must take this class in order to qualify for Professional Training. You must be a licensed massage therapist, midwife, ND, MD, chiropractor, nurse or acupuncturist in order to take Professional Training. Once you have completed the Professional Training you are qualified to do the treatments on others. If you want to proceed on to certification then you have two years to complete your case studies before attending certification training. You don’t have to advance on to certification training, but I highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful chance to refine your skills and at the time of this writing, Dr. Rosita Arvigo teaches the Certification Workshop and you will learn advanced techniques for correcting retroverted uteri. At least that’s what was taught when I went through certification. Dr. Rosita Arvigo is an amazing woman and gifted teacher and presenter. If you ever get a chance to work with her, make it happen! If you are still on the fence, read her book Sastun: My Apprenticeship With A Maya Healer.

Check with the Arvigo Institute to verify prices and requirements.

  • Level One-Self Care (typically between $375-$500 depending on location)
  • Level Two-Professional Training (around $1750)
  • Level Three-Certification (see website prices vary and may include accommodations)
  • Advanced Pregnancy Care
  • Introduction to Spiritual Healing
  • Advanced Spiritual Healing
  • Teacher Training

For a complete explanation of the courses visit the Arvigo Institute Website.

I’m a teacher for the Arvigo Institute level one training. See my class page HERE.

Chi Nei Tsang

This training varies depending who you study with. Chi Nei Tsang was the first abdominal therapy I learned. I studied with Kyle Cline for several years before studying and certifying with Master Mantak Chia. Mantak Chia is the Chi Kung Master who brought Chi Kung and Chi Nei Tsang to the west. If you get a chance to study with either of these wonderful teachers I highly recommend it. I’ve also heard wonderful things about Gilles Marin, director of the Chi Nei Tsang Institute in Berkeley, California. I’ve read his books and have several of his Chi Kung CDs.

During my training, the chi kung course Micro Cosmic Orbit was a prerequisite for the Chi Nei Tsang training. Chi Nei Tsang is a combination of Chi Kung and massage, so having a foundation in Chi Kung is imperative.

The  actual Chi Nei Tsang course taught by Kyle Cline meets three hours a week for 10 weeks. The cost of the CNT course at the time of publishing this post was $450 plus the fees for the prerequisite training.

Visit Kyle Clines Simply Tao page for more information.

Certification is a week of training and testing with Master Mantak Chia, but first, you must go through the Chi Nei Tsang training and submit your case studies. I honestly can’t remember how many case studies need to be submitted, 80 comes to mind, but it could be less or more. The test consists of giving Master Mantak Chia a massage and at the end of the massage he either says “you pass” or “you fail”. Talk about nerve-racking! All in all, it was an AMAZING experience to work with him. Don’t be shy, if he asks for a volunteer, by all means, raise your hand! The same goes for working with Kyle Cline.

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