Commonly given to those training for the martial art of Kalaripayattu, kalari massage is rarely a service at spa salons; but at this facility in Delhi, the traditional goodness can be experienced along with modern add-ons.
The walls of the room had dhyana (focus), yog (yoga), sutra (in Sanskrit language, a rule or a set of rules on a philosophy), nirvana (an idyllic state), mimansa (deep reflection) artfully crafted on it. With soft yellow lights and silence engulfing the space around, this chamber reflected a relaxing mood, one apt for a spa.
What stood out though was a rope hanging from the ceiling! It had been specially put there, above the massage bed laid on the floor, in order to perform a traditional massage called kalari. Mostly practiced in south India, it has made its way to this spa facility of a five-star hotel in the capital city of Delhi.
Given to people suffering from bone related ailments and specially to students of Kalaripyattu, which is believed to be the oldest martial-art form in the world, the traditional kalari massage is given along with the wellness additions of a scrub and modern add-ons of a steam bath at The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa, making it a complete spa experience.
At the hotel, a masseuse, who also performs other massages besides the kalari, starts the procedure with a scrub, kneading one’s body with fragrant spices like cinnamon and clove that are dunked in a thick Ayurvedic oil.
“Cinnamon and clove are an effective Ayurvedic remedy and are known for anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Cinnamon increases the production of collagen on skin and repairs flaky skin, cures blackhead, whiteheads and acne,” explains Jayan A Narayanan, manager, NeoVeda Spa at The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa, Delhi. “Clove oil has a stimulating effect on mind helps one relax. It also induces sleep and so is helpful for insomnia patients,” he adds.
Kalari massage stimulates the 108 marma or the vital points in one’s body, reliving one of pain, stiffness and sporting injuries while also stimulating the function of various body organs. It is done using a combination of hands and feet, which not only makes the procedure unique but also more effective.
“There is an Ayurvedic reason behind the way the massage is applied on an individual. The therapist performs it using the feet while their hands are tied to a rope to support them and to balance the pressure on the nerves or the points. The pressure stimulates or generates the energy resources and helps the flow of vital energy in the individual. It removes blockages form the marma points giving physical and psychological relaxation,” explains Narayanan.
The massage leaves one’s muscles feeling at ease and also supple and fresh because of the oil used.
An Ayurvedic recipe
“Called dhanwadharam, the oil used at the Neoveda Spa’s, kalari massage is sourced from Kerala. Used for strengthening muscles and the nervous system, it is an amalgamation of various herbs that work for one’s wellbeing,” says Narayanan.
The oil is a mixture of bala- a herb that helps stimulate the central nervous system; patala-a herb with anti-inflammatory properties and cooling qualities that reduce body and joint pains; gambhari that cures vertigo, inflammation, pain, fever, heat, piles and toxins and is good for hair and rejuvenation; shalaparni – that has an anti-inflammatory formulation; and yava – famous as barley and that lowers blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight loss and helps relieve pain.
“The massage acts on the nerves, bones, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues. It relieves pain, numbness and swelling thus providing strength to the muscles and joints. It helps in curing diseases like facial paralysis, muscular weakness and pain, rheumatic diseases, and some others. The stimulation of the nerves results in removal of toxins, removal of mental tension, stress and strain from the muscles, and is endurance to fatigue. Massaging also helps to nourish and cleanse the body tissues to make the skin glowing while smoothning wrinkles,” explains Narayanan.
True to what is said, as the process came to an end and soft music filled the ambience, bringing me back to the present from a satiating experience, kalari left me invigorated, unlike any other spa experience I’ve had.
Kalari massage was actually used as a treatment for students who would incur injuries while practising Kalarippyattu. Their kalari masters would then give them a massage, working on the marma points, which without the right pressure can even cause death! The master would thus perform the treatment with spiritual thoughts.
The massage at The Metropolitan Hotel and Spa was given with much care and a soft intensity, which was much to my relief.