By Jenny Carrigan.
Chavutti Thirumal, like other forms of massage uses oil to enable the practitioner to perform long, smooth, flowing strokes over the entire length of the body. However, unlike these other forms of massage the practitioner uses his/her foot to carry out these strokes in place of the hand.
The recipient lies flat on the floor - the body cushioned by mats and towels - the limbs are placed in specific positions to aid comfort and encourage free flow of energy. The masseur/se applies one foot at a time, holding on to a support rope, which runs above head level across the room.
To begin with some handwork is done so as to prepare the body for the more intense bare footwork. This preliminary handwork includes the initial application of oil, and adjustment of limbs. Handwork is also carried out at the end of the session to give the finishing touches to this unique treatment. This includes work on the back and neck, shoulders and head.
When using the foot, various strokes are performed and certain parts of the foot can be utilised to achieve depth and precision in areas that may need more attention. The practitioner uses his/her foot to travel the whole length of the body in one sweeping, flowing stroke, creating a wonderful deep continuous movement, working from the tips of the fingers to the toes.
So by using the feet, the body and the breath correctly the practitioner really can achieve greater depth and accuracy throughout the massage, particularly when carrying out more specific intense shorter strokes. This results in a particularly deep and remedial treatment where no muscle, ligament or tendon is left untouched.
Throughout the treatment, the recipient is encouraged to become aware of his/her own breathing. With this awareness and use of breath during the treatment the client themselves help contribute towards inducing a more relaxing and therapeutic massage. This in itself promotes a deeper, more natural breathing pattern, which the client can benefit from in their everyday life.
Chavutti, when practised properly really is a mind, body, and soul treatment and works not only on a physical level but on an emotional level too. Thus helping to break the cycle of mental/emotional stress leading to muscular tension and pain.
More importantly, when performed regularly it is working at preventing further illness rather than just merely alleviating existing symptoms.