I am one of a small handful of traditionally trained Chavutti Thirumal practitioners in the United States. In the Malayalam language Chavutti Thirumal translates to "foot pressure". It is an ancient form of massage that comes from Kerala, South India. During a Chavutti Thirumal session the recipient lays on a floor mat while the massage therapist stands on one foot, using the other foot to deeply glide warm oils into the entire body, they hold onto a rope to help maintain balance. It is a technique for massage that requires balance, dexterity and control. It takes thousands of hours to become truly proficient as a Chavutti Thirumal practitioner.
Chavutti Thirumal is also often referred to as Kalari or Keralite Massage, this is because the technique was developed approximately 2,000 years ago by Kalari martial art masters in south west India as a way to maintain supple muscles and to treat pain and swelling caused by combat injuries. Kalaripayattu is known as "The world's oldest and deadliest martial art". Kalaripayattu continues to be practiced today and Chavutti Thirumal remains an important part of Kerala life. Below I have posted some photos of traditional Chavutti Thirumal as it is practiced in India today, as well as some great photos of Kalaripayattu in practice, it's a beautiful artform but clearly incredibly dangerous. It’s no wonder that these warriors also invented body massage.
While Chavutti Thirumal was created for Kalari warriors it is, equally suitable as a treatment for those not involved in regular or strenuous physical exercise. It's now commonly used for anyone who wishes to reduce pain, return suppleness to muscles and flexibility to joints, increase blood circulation, reduce anxiety, lengthen and tone muscles. Receiving a barefoot massage gives clients the feeling that muscle tension is being ironed out of them. Receiving this style of massage is incredibly effective for pain relief and it is also much more relaxing than a standard deep tissue massage in which the client often feels sharp, jabbing, or poking sensations from the practitioners elbows and fingers. Feeling jabbed causes clients to tense up and guard the very areas that most need work. I've been told that receiving a Barefoot Fusion Massage feels like you're being massage by a weighted blanket.
Here is a video of my mentor Helen Noakes giving a traditional Chavutti Thirumal / Kerala Massage session - as you can see Helen's client is very lightly draped and laying on a thin mat. My work looks very different from traditional Chavutti Thirumal. My clients lay on a cloud soft, heated memory foam floor mat with ample room and full support. The areas that aren’t currently being massaged are covered by both sheets and warm blankets. As with traditional Chavutti Thirumal I use a lot of natural oils during the massage (often it’s a blend of coconut, avocado, olive, and grape-seed) and I use deep gliding strokes that stretch from the tips of the fingers to the tips of the toes.