Uzhichil or body massage is a staple in Ayurveda treatment but it gained popularity largely through the medium of Kalari chikitsa [treatment that is part of training in Kalaripayattu, the martial art of Kerala]. Three forms of massage are prevalent in the Kalari chikitsa system – enna thechu pidipikkal or oil massage, kai uzhichil or massage using hands, and chavitti uzhichil or massage using feet. In very rare instances, during training, students sustain injuries to their marmas [vital parts of the body]. They are instantly and completely cured, thanks to the intervention of the Kalari asans [masters] who are adept at giving the right treatment. That is because imparting and imbibing knowledge about the marmas is an important component of Kalaripayattu training.
Before practicing other techniques students are advised to put special kalrai mukoot oil all over the body and kacha( special cloth) to be tied over the waist in sequence for attaining ‘mayvazhakkam’ and reduce the risks of lower back sprain and ‘nadipizhavu’. This technique of using oil is used in varshakala kalari massage and nadi thalarcha. The method of tying ‘kacha’ is used in bandaging lower back in disc bulges and postpartum care. This ensures that the knowledge that the kalari is not just a martial art but also a treatment modality is benumbed in it.In detail, initial step in kalari practice is ‘guruvanakkam’ which is meant for body protection and the sequence of doing this vanakkam is made use in diagnosing intervertebral disc problems.
The very next step is saluting ‘kalari thara‘, the seven steps representing chakras (mooladhara, swadhistana etc) in our body. Poothara (kalari thara) is specially decorated with flowers and leaves of thumba, paranthi and thulasi meant for injuries like nasal bleeding, blunt weapon wounds happens while practicing kalari. This knowledge is used in doing procedures like nasyam in loss of consciousness and nasal bleeding..Kalari Chikitsa is an ancient system of musculoskeletal treatments. Originating in Kerala in Southern India, Kalari Chikitsa was developed to benefit the warriors of Kalaripayattu. The techniques that were used to treat the ancient warriors are also highly effective in the treatment of modern day aches, pains and injuries.
How does Kalari Chikitsa work?
Kalari Chikitsa is a complete system of traditional medicine. It includes a range of massage techniques, marma applications, herbal oils, herbal pastes and poultices. Herbal medicine and dietary restrictions are also prescribed when necessary.With the array of methods available, treatments are customised to the individual, their condition and goals.As a practical manual therapy, massage is a primary element of Kalari Chikitsa. The two types of massage are Kalari Marma Massage and Chavutti Thirummal.