Special Treatments

The world’s first aquatic massage left CARISSA WONG super relaxed, whilen an abdominal therapy had CHARLENE FANG feeling empowered.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel


One session of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy, which is rooted in traditional Maya healing techniques, left Charlene feeling empowered.

“I’m obsessed with my stomach. I don’t have a six-pack. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. When I look in the mirror, often all I see is my bulging tummy, even when it’s at its flattest,” she tells us.

“My unhealthy relationship with my stomach isn’t just external; it’s internal, too. I suffer from constipation – despite eating a healthy amount of fibre – and, in the past year, have become prone to bouts of indigestion.

“So, when I heard Como Shambhala was hosting Lisa Levine, an American-born certified practitioner of The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy, and teacher of the Arvigo Self-Care workshop, I was intrigued. More than just a tummy massage, this therapy is also promoted as a form of self-care and said to help with everything from back pain, insomnia and menstrual cramps to constipation as well as infertility.

“It is a fusion of Maya shamanic medicine and naprapathy (an off -shoot of chiropractic), and the bodywork is said to gently guide internal organs into their appropriate anatomical positions for optimum health and well-being.

“The goal here isn’t unlike TCM – improve the flow of blood, lymph, nerve pulses and ch’ulel (Maya for energy). It ultimately cleanses a congested uterine membrane and realigns reproductive organs like the ovaries and uterus. The treatment can also be performed on men to help with a congested prostate or chronic indigestion.

The experience “Unlike most massages, where the therapist works silently at releasing knots and aching muscles, my session with Lisa was an interactive, educational one.

We spent the first part discussing various women’s health issues and the importance of nurturing a mind-body connection. For some, this may sound esoteric but if you’ve ever felt butterflies in your tummy, that’s your gut instinct kicking in. Painful period cramps? That’s your body communicating that it’s not at its best, and believe it or not, painful periods aren’t a given. You can do something about it.

“After the chat, Lisa first used a hand-held infared heat lamp to warm up the stomach area before laying her hands on me. Using a light grapeseed oil, she guided her fingertips around various sections of the abdomen, from the upper portion to the lower pelvic area and around the navel, gently pressing into my stomach or using lymphatic drainage movements to coax out any knots or tension felt. If the idea of exposing one’s abdomen to a stranger’s touch sounds invasive, it’s quite the opposite. In reality, it was one of the most relaxing and soothing massages I’ve ever experienced.

“The therapy also included a back massage to complete the realignment, but before that I had to physically participate in the treatment as part of self-care. Lisa guided my hand and fingers through various movements on my core, and I felt my body responding. The big knot in the middle of my abdomen relaxed; and the tension in my lower back gave way as I applied pressure to the groin area.”

Verdict On a superficial level, Charlene emerged rested, feeling less tense not just in her stomach but all over her body. “I had a lot of energy for the rest of the day and felt like a weight had been lifted. On a deeper level, my time with Lisa gave me a lot to think about.

“This was a life-changing, empowering experience, not just for the techniques learnt and their potential benefits. I was reminded of the importance of self-care techniques and to commit to carrying them out as a way of saying ‘I love me’.”

PRICE: $450 for the first session (2.5 hours), $250 (subsequent session, 75 minutes)

LOCATION: #06-01/02 Delfi Orchard

CONTACT: 6304-3552

My Reading Room


Watsu, derived from water and shiatsu (a form of Japanese bodywork), is the world’s fi rst form of aquatic bodywork, and comes recommended for women, especially mumsto-be needing gentle solutions for relaxation and pain management.

It claims to decrease muscle tension, pain and stress. It is also said to improve mobility, flexibility and sleep quality. What’s more, Watsu advocates say the therapy is beneficial for health problems, including arthritis, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson’s disease.

Massages are relaxing and conducted in water. As a diver, Carissa says: “I’m not afraid of water, but floating and risking water going up my nose and into mouth is slightly off - putting. Still, as I am soft and flexible from my daily yoga practice, I was curious to see if a place called Inspire Mum & Baby Fitness & Swim School could do anything for me.”

This passive one-to-one therapy involves the therapist cradling, moving, and stretching the client for deep relaxation. The shiatsu part comes in when pressure is applied with the thumbs, hands, elbows, knees, and feet to the body’s pressure points. This form of massage, which also helps to increase blood flow and circulation, reduces the risk of injury as it is non-invasive.

The experience “Stepping into the warm salt-chlorine water, I was immediately at ease, bouncing and floating around in the pool,” says Carissa. “My certified therapist, Linda Tan, is the first to introduce Watsu to Singapore, so I was in good hands.

“When it was time to begin, she told me we would start and end in a seated position. During the hour-long treatment, I was to let go of my thoughts and control, and allow her to do her magic.

“She then secured two floats around my knees to help with buoyancy and stability – this means non-swimmers can also enjoy the treatment. Next, she placed one arm behind my neck and the other on my back, and positioned me horizontally.

“Watsu is nothing like a typical massage. Instead of applying localised pressure, Linda helped me float, sway, twist (lightly) and move side to side. I enjoyed hanging like a rag doll; you can never experience such a release on land. My muscles gradually relaxed while Linda manoeuvred my body skilfully.

“As I eased into the massage, my body felt heavier. The sound of water created by my body when I breached the surface was calming and therapeutic. I’m an easy sleeper and a water lover, so once it covered my ears, I started dozing off. Some customers have cried after Watsu, Linda shared, due to the emotional release it can bring out.

“When the session ended, I took a while to tear myself out of my sleepy state. Linda and I smiled at each other and stayed there for a moment, appreciating the calmness and quiet.”

Verdict For those with a busy mind, tense muscles, insomnia or even a case of the blues, Watsu can go a long way towards relaxing your mind and body. “I felt energised and refreshed after my morning session. My mind was clear and I could focus better for the rest of the day. It was a great and calming way to start my Friday and kick off  the weekend.”

PRICE: $150 for a single session; $1,200 for 10 sessions

LOCATION: 188-2 Tanjong Katong Rd

CONTACT: 9234-1866

MORE INFORMATION: www.inspiremumbaby.com