Yep, those are birch leaves you are seeing Birch, eucalyptus, oak, lime tree are some of the leaves used in Venik massage. The leaves, dried or fresh, are tied together in a fan shape and then soaked in water before use. Used in soapy bundles, they are part of a relaxation massage.
Circular movements barely touching the skin is what the Russian pros recommend for you. The veniks compress, stroke, stretch and lash the body as well. What? Yes, lashing the body is done. This is not a hard hit. Remember you are in the steam room and no one wants any skin burns. Lashing is done smoothly and lightly along the spine, legs and chest.
If you have joint discomfort, birch is said to be good for that. The technique for joint pain is to shake the venik gently and press it against the muscle or joint for a few seconds at a time. Afterwards, all you need is a dip in a cold water pool. Eat lightly, sip some more hot tea, and rinse and repeat if you like.
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