Indian Head Massage is part of the ancient Ayurvedic healing system that has been a part of daily life in India for thousands of years. The very name of the treatment brings to mind the exotic and faraway lands and flowers of India. But Indian Head Massage is not just an ‘indulgence’ or a ‘treat’, it is an extremely effective massage therapy. It is an integral part of the Ayurvedic tradition and a key part of Indian family life.
Originating in the Vedic culture of India, Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing. Ayurveda has been enjoying a significant resurgence both in its native land and throughout the world. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Tibetan medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge), the principle being that human beings are part of nature and thus health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
Ayurveda cites three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments. These are known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), which gives movement, Pitta (Fire), which brings about transformation, and Kapha (Earth), which gives structure. These key forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be slim, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that predominate.
Massage has always been a significant part of Ayurvedic medicine and daily life in India. It is an acknowledged method of cleansing and maintaining the health of the body. One of the important aspects to good health is having a body that both circulates nutrients and eliminates toxins effectively. Massage is works on and is helpful to all of the body’s systems, including the immune system. It brings about calmness and relaxation, and helps the release of stressful emotions that can become trapped in the body, causing pain and tension, and in extreme cases that can lead to disease. Regular massage rejuvenates the body.
Babies born in India are massaged every day of their lives until they are three years old, because the mothers know that this will stimulate and improve circulation and mobility. From the age of three, the routine changes and the children are massaged once or twice a week. At approximately six years of age, children are deemed old enough to massage and receive massage from others. They learn by practicing the massage techniques on their grandparents.
This therapy has gradually been extended in the West to include not only the head, but also the neck, shoulders, upper back, upper arms and face. Thus it covers some of the areas that are most vulnerable to stress in our Western society. Symptoms it is helpful with include mental fatigue, tension headaches and migraines, muscular tension and stiffness, depression, eye strain, anxiety and lack of focus and concentration. The massage strokes involve a combination of gentle and vigorous moves, depending on the receiver’s condition.
As mentioned above, this wonderful treatment can assist with a variety of physical and emotional issues and concerns. Here are some more details.
- 1. Helps relieve migraines, headaches and back pain
Often tension in the upper back, neck and head can lead to migraines, headaches and back pain, which can make for uncomfortable living on a day-to-day basis, and sometimes even lead to depression. Indian Head Massage provides general and specific relaxation for muscles, providing immediate relief from tension.
- 2. Promotes scalp health and hair growth
The massage increases nourishment and oxygen to the scalp and hair follicle, which in turns stimulates hair growth and improves the texture of the hair. It’s a great way to help maintain healthy and shiny hair!
- 3. Detoxifies the body by stimulating lymphatic drainage
Indian Head Massage stimulates and improves lymphatic drainage and blood flow to the neck, thus helping with the dispersal of toxins from tense, knotted tissues and the removal of waste products from the body.
- 4. Relieves restlessness and insomnia
The above are known side effects of stress and Indian Head Massage will immediately relieve stress and promote relaxation by releasing the physical tension. This release of tension creates space for relaxation at a deeper level, bringing about a sense of wellbeing and calm, helping to open your body to a better quality of sleep and rest.
- 5. Eases symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
Massaging the head encourages the supply of oxygen to the brain. This is one of the best ways of reducing anxiety and of lifting one’s mood. The oxygen has a refreshing effect on the brain, helping you to think more clearly, calmly and creatively. Having an Indian Head Massage can make you feel brighter and help re-establish alertness, concentration and confidence.
- 6. Renews energy levels
An Indian Head Massage works with the Ayurvedic concept, placing emphasis on bringing balance to all aspects of one’s being. Working with the chakras (wheels in Sanskrit), energy centres located in specific areas along the midline of the body as part of the treatment, has a powerful effect in bringing the energy of the body back into balance.
- 7. Promotes clarity of thought
Often we can feel like our brain is in a fog, because in today’s busy world our brain becomes overloaded with a plethora of thoughts and ideas, making it difficult for us to efficiently assimilate and filter what we do and don’t need to think about or remember. As it dissipates mental fatigue, irritability and anxiety, Indian Head Massage helps us come back to Earth and pace ourselves. Sensual awareness takes over, thoughts quieten and we become more aware of how we are truly feeling and being. The treatment acts like a ‘reset’ button on your whole system.
At Subtle Aromatics we offer Indian Head Massage either with or without oils. The treatment is typically 20 – 30 minutes long, making it perfect for a quick lunchtime or end-of-the-day stress buster treatment.
Indian Head Massage is a seated massage treatment, focusing on the upper back, shoulders, neck, head and face. It can be applied through clothes or directly on to the skin using oils. Oils can be applied to the head and to Marma points (equivalent to oriental acupuncture points) to release energy blocks as well as to relieve physical symptoms. They can also be applied to the hair, a wonderful way to nourish it if it is dry or brittle. The oils used can be a simple base oil, such as Sweet Almond or Jojoba oil. Alternatively, a mix of base and essential oils may be blended together to create a specific aromatic blend for your requirements on the day.
For more information or to book a treatment, click here.
Compiled and written by Eve Doyle Dip.ITHMA MIFPA, Aromatherapist.
© Subtle Aromatics 2016
About the author / more information
Eve Doyle is a Dip. ITHMA Aromatherapist. She practises as a therapist in the Bath and Bristol areas in the UK.