What is referred to by the term “Potli massage”?

Potli Massage by Yes Madam
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You may or may not have come across the term “Potli massage” or “Kizhi ” before. Many people who have heard the term sometimes remain under the misconception that Potli massage is just some service offered nowadays in spas. However, Potli massage or Kizhi is actually an age-old Ayurvedic technique and it has many benefits. It has been practiced for centuries not only in India but also in other parts of South East Asia like in Thailand. A detailed explanation of Potli Massage would be as follows. Kizhi or Potli massage is an Ayurvedic therapy wherein warm poultices are filled with natural ingredients like herbal powders, oils, or certain medical concoctions and then are massaged all over the body. These warm poultices are meant to massage specific parts of the whole body and to induce perspiration. This sweat is caused due to the presence of herbs in the Potli (poultices). This therapy is widely recommended to women above 30s when they start facing bone-related concerns and Kizhi is quite effective in alleviating such weaknesses. Keep reading to find out more about this intriguing technique.

Types of Kizhis or Potli massage

Before we get into all of the details of a Potli massage or Kizhi, here are the three most common types of Potli massages.

Potli Massage
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  1. Navarakizhi (Herbal Rice Bolus Massage): This treatment lasts for about 75 minutes. It involves the use of cooked medicinal rice called ‘Njavara’, which is mixed with milk and herbs. ALl of this is tied in a bundle of muslin cloth and applied all over the body in a specific rhythm to have a therapeutic effect. This treatment is excellent for helping you manage the stress and strains of daily life. Besides that, Navarakizhi always tones the muscles and nourishes and rejuvenates your body.
  2. Podikizhi (Choorna Swedana) (Powder Poultice Massage): This treatment, like the one mentioned above, lasts for about 75 minutes. In this treatment, your therapist would use specific herbal powders bundled in a muslin cloth to massage your whole body using a prescribed herbal oil. The main benefit of this treatment lies in the fact that it helps relieve ‘Kapha-Vatha’ dominant conditions, which essentially means ‘doshas’.
  1. Elakizhi (Pathrapotala Swedana) (Herbal Poultice Massage): Yet another treatment that lasts for 75 minutes, this treatment has a variety of benefits too. For this treatment, specific herbs and leaves are fried in herbal oil and are bundled in linen cloths to massage the entire body. The leaves and herbs chosen for this treatment depend on the person’s body type. One of the first benefits of this treatment is that it enhances blood circulation throughout the body, hence inducing perspiration and also helping in eliminating wastes. Besides that, this treatment is excellent for treating inflammatory conditions.

What are the ingredients and herbs in a Potli?

Ayurveda, as you would know, is known to be one of India’s oldest medicinal traditions and potli massage (Kizhi) lies in its roots. Now that you know some basics about Potli massage, let’s dive into the details of it and learn more about the ingredients and herbs that play major roles in Kizhi.

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Potlis contain a wide variety of Ayurvedic herbs and leaves and they are used in both forms, dried and fresh. Depending on the choice of your Potli massage and your body constitution, specific herbs are chosen. Here are some of them-

  1. Ashwagandha: This herb is excellent for reducing stress and helping relax tensed muscles
  2. Mustard and neem: These are yet other ingredients that help the skin and body to detox
  3. Turmeric and ginger: These ingredients are widely used in Indian cuisine because of their many benefits. In potli massage, they are used to revitalise and purify the body
  4. Rosemary and rice: These two ingredients are great in a potli massage because they not only help improve blood circulation throughout the body but also help in easing tensed muscles.
  5. Aloe vera and onion: Lastly, though you would know the benefits of aloe vera, onion is also great in potli massage as it helps reduce inflammation.

These herbs and ingredients may be used in combination or individually depending on which type of Potli massage you are recommended

What is the procedure followed in Potli massage?

Potli's filled with herbs and nutrients
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The procedure followed in Potli massage is quite simple. Since Kizhi works on the age-old principle of confluence of the elements of water and fire combined, specific herbs are used for this therapy, all of which have been listed above. After the herbs are selected, they could be dried or fresh or sometimes heated in herbal oil. Then these ingredients are bundled together in a linen or muslin cloth and heated again using herbal oil. Finally, this bundle or ‘potli’ is massaged all over the body in a specific rhythm such that it opens up the pores in the body, relaxes the muscles, and also helps the body in various ways since each herb is used in this therapy has many benefits. These carefully selected herbs work miracles on the mind and body, thoroughly helping you relax.

Key benefits of Potli massage

‘Kizhi’ or potli massage, as we mentioned before, has incredible benefits, not only on your body but on your mind as well. Physically, this is excellent for helping treat illnesses like spondylitis, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, frozen shoulders, and others. Now that you have read this far in this article, you would know that the herbs chosen for each massage are specific to the condition that they are meant to treat. Hence, before getting a potli massage you would need to visit your doctor or an Ayurvedic practitioner who would guide you about the massage you should get. Here are the key benefits that you would get out of a potli massage:

  1. Alleviates muscle and joint pains, stiffness and doshas
  2. Helps the body detox of wastes and toxins, thus leaving it nourished and rejuvenated
  3. Potli massage can also help reduce ageing symptoms
  4. Helps improve the quality of your skin
  5. Potli massage could also help reduce body weight

Also, read – How often should you do body massage?


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