- Shiroabhyangam is the original name for the Indian head massage. Shir means head, and Abhyangam means oil application. Thus oil application on the head is called as Shiroabhyangam in Sanskrit, a language in which the Ayurvedic classics were initially written, almost 5000 years ago.
- It’s held a special place both in the "kitchen table wisdom" of Indian mothers and in the medical bag of Ayurvedic physicians. Now making its way to the West, this seemingly simple health technique is finding new "disciples" eager to use it in their fight against modern-day problems.
- An head massage serves not only to relieve pain but especially as preventive medicine increasing circulation, stimulating and strengthening the lymphatic system, and opening the flow of life force in order to cleanse and revitalize the body . It also helps to relieve stress and the generation of positive emotions to make us feel better both physical and mentally.
- Many people manifest their stress physically as muscular tension, quite often in the neck and head areas. This may be particularly apparent in the occipital region at the back of the head where many of the back and shoulder muscles attach. In addition, those who use computers regularly may find their seated posture is less than optimal, leading to aches and pains in the upper back, shoulders and neck. After a treatment it is common to feel more balanced, centered and recharged, with a reduction in neck stiffness and an increase in mobility in the treated areas. Even without any specific problem areas, each one can experience a greater sense of calm and relaxation making it a very special therapy.
- The Indian head massage is not exclusive for particular age group, whereas from infant to old person should enjoy this massage and reap their health benefits, too. A piece of trivia that many people are not aware of is that in certain parts of India, it is customary among barbers to give their clients after their haircut a head massage therapy. This practice is also done in the Western world although some tweaks were added to it and is given only for the purpose of stress relief and management, alleviate fatigue and to improve blood circulation in the upper portion of the body.
Importance of Head or 'Shir' in Ayurveda
- According to Ayurveda, there are a total of 108 Marmas or life centers throughout the body. Marmas or life centers can be considered as vital points in the body where the subtle energy of Prana is converted, regulated and stored for use by the gross body and mind. They are also sites of the Tridosha (Vata, Pitta & Kapha). In total there are 108 Marmas throughout the body and 12 from these are classified as Padu Marmas or Vital life centers. Six from the 12 vital life centres are located in the head and neck region alone. This shows that head and neck region is very critical and vital.
- Out of the three (Heart, Head, and Pelvic region including the excretory and reproductive systems) most important parts of the body, head is the foremost. Head consists of the brain which is the seat of consciousness. It also consists of all the sense organs through which we interact with the outer world.
- According to Hatha yoga philosophy the human head is compared as the root and the body its branches. The human body is compared to an uprooted tree in the materialistic world, and to see it in the correct form, the roots of the tree should be fixed in the ground. Ayurveda further relates to this and says that as the roots of a tree need water and natural fertilizers to grow and maintain itself , our head also needs the same in the form of different herbal oils that we should massage on the head, and so it prescribes the treatment called as Shiroabhyangam.
- In Kundalini yoga the sixth and the seventh chakra (A chakra is a psychic centre that controls all of our physical and mental functioning) i.e. the 'Ajnya '(analogous to the pituitary gland and brain) and 'Sahastradhara' (Lotus with thousand petals, analogous to the brain) lie in the head.
Choosing a Massage Oil
- Massaging the scalp and hair with warm oil, preferably infused with hair-nourishing herbs, is the best way to nurture the scalp and hair topically. Ayurvedic oils designed for hair and scalp massage typically include one or more hair-friendly herbs to augment the benefit of the massage. Traditionally, these herbs are slow-cooked with the oil, and the oil is then strained and ready for use.
- The oil for the massage can be customized by hair and body type.
- If your hair is thin, dry and frizzy and prone to split-ends, you have Vata hair. You must choose almond oil or sesame oil as the base oil. Both of these oils are very nourishing for the scalp and hair and help reduce stiffness and tightness in the scalp.
- If you have fine hair prone to premature thinning or graying, you are Pitta predominant cooling coconut oil is the ideal choice as coconut is Pitta-pacifying, coconut oil massage can retard hair problems associated with an aggravated Pitta dosha.
- If you are predominantly Kapha, your hair will tend to be thick and oily. Sesame oil is a good choice in this case.
- Different oils are made use of for their various beneficial properties.
- Almond oil helps promote healthy hair, reduces stiffness, aches, and pains.
- Coconut oil is considered to be very effective for the moisturizing of the skin and encouraging the growth of hair. It also brings about a balance to the body.
- Just like almond oil, mustard oil helps in relieving stiffness, aches and pains. It can also be used to bring down swelling and can also help in making the blood pure by opening the pores.
- One of the most commonly used oils is sesame oil. Apart from reducing stiffness, aches and pains, it can also benefit the growth of hair and reduce the process of hair graying and bring out a natural shine.
- There are lots of other medicinal oils available in the market which should be selected as per expert advice.
When to take massage
- Conduct a scalp massage with hair oil before going off to sleep. This will help relax the mind and achieve sound sleep. It is advisable to receive a head massage just once in a week, but it would be always beneficial if head massage is done more number of times in a week or even daily if possible.
- The duration of this massage is usually from 30 to 40 minutes and brings about total relaxation to the soul, mind and body. Getting a scalp massage before going to sleep helps bring relaxation to the mind and ensures a sound sleep. It is advisable to get an Ayurvedic massage just once a week.
- You should avoid any kind of intense activity soon after
massage as the massage will bring total relaxation to the muscles, which will
make the individual lethargic.
Method of head massage
- The head is the most significant part of the body. It encompasses eight vital openings—the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and one principal opening, the crown of the head. There are also vital energy points over the entire head that connect to the brain and the mind.
- Drape a towel over the shoulders to protect clothing. Play soothing music and dim the lights.
- Turn off or put away your phones and all other electronic devices.
- Pour 4-5 tbsp of any oil into a small bowl. You may wish to try almond, coconut or sesame oil.
- Pour some oil into a bowl; the oil should be warm but comfortable to the touch. It should not be too hot.
- Dip your fingers into the oil and begin to rub your scalp gently, using circular motions. Alternate to short vertical, then horizontal strokes all over the scalp.
- Work your way around the entire scalp, wetting your fingers with additional oil as you work. Gently massage the whole head with your thumbs and fingers.
- Using the pads of your fingers, apply the oil little by little to different parts of your scalp, parting your hair as needed. Also work some oil along the length of your hair.
- Then, using the pads of your fingers, work the oil into your scalp, using circular motions. Slow, deliberate movements are relaxing while steady but vigorous movement helps enhance energy and circulation.
- Be sure to massage the entire scalp, being careful not to get any oil in the eyes. If needed, add more oil to the bowl.
- Spread some oil over the back of the head and massage the oil into your neck and shoulders.
- Massage all the way down to the ears. Rub a bit of oil into the earlobes; it feels really good.
- Massage the back of the neck with slow, long strokes. Repeat the entire process if time allows, keeping calm, loving energy as you go.
- Wrap head in a clean towel and either lie down for 30-40 minutes before showering and washing hair, or leave the oil in overnight for a deep conditioning treatment. Just cover your pillow with another dry, clean towel to safeguard your bedding.
- In the morning, you can wash the oil out with a gentle natural shampoo.
- So, if you are tired after a long day at the office and want to recharge your batteries or simply want to induce yourself into a blissful sleep, you know just what to do!!
Benefits of head massage
- A good head massage induces a state of calm, peace and tranquility. It also promotes high levels of alertness and concentration. Contrary to popular belief, an Ayurvedic head massage is not only beneficial for a healthy scalp but also positively impacts the entire body.
- Head massage strengthens the nervous system and supports balance of the brain’s chemistry and hormones. Relieve headaches and tension and makes you feel refreshed and awake. Head feels lighter, mind feels clearer
- Head massage helps a person to have a sound sleep and can also help in renewing brain cells. Benefits memory, cognition, and alertness.
- Clears the mind and revitalizes mental capacity, by improving alertness and concentration, general balancing and giving a sense of calm and peace.
- Brings clarity and strength to the sense organs
- Head massage helps in conditions like headaches, stress and fatigue, eyestrain, sinusitis, insomnia etc and it has beneficial effects on the blood circulation of the body.
- The massage helps relax the muscles in the neck area
- Promotes deep and restful sleep when preformed at bedtime.
- Antidote to stress, anxiety and mental tension and calms the respiratory system
- Improves blood circulation and lymphatic drainage to the head and neck
- Improves muscle tone and mobility in the head, neck and shoulder area
- Physically revitalizing relieves mental and physical strain, so helping to improve concentration and productivity.
- Head massage provides the hair with the required nutrition and makes it strong and healthy. It can also help in preventing hair loss. It also slows down the hair graying process, it helps to get rid of various hair related problems and conditions such as dandruff, dead skin, scalp psoriasis and many more.
- There’s no over the counter hair conditioner or masque that will provide the healing benefits of a proper Ayurvedic scalp massage.
- It is also responsible for strengthening the hair from the roots and providing a noticeable luster. It lubricates and conditions the scalp, helping to prevent flakes and dry scalp.
- It helps strengthen the roots of the hair and nourishes the hair-shafts, promoting new hair growth and strengthening current hair making it more manageable.
- It helps protect hair from the damaging effects of the sun and harsh weather by improving resiliency over time.
- Ayurvedic head massage relies on liberal application of herbal oils to aid the massage process. It is a good idea to find out whether your body has any adverse reaction to the oil by applying a small amount of oil to your forearm.
- People with acne prone skin may choose to wash hair after around an hour to avoid increase in the condition.
- Any kind of rigorous activity should be avoided as the massage completely relaxes the muscles in the body due to which the person may feel lethargic; it is also a good idea not to schedule any important business immediately after the massage.
- Head massage is an ancient massage practice incorporated in India hundreds of years ago. Till today, people enjoy a scalp massage as it helps relax the body to a great extent. An Ayurvedic scalp massage is an art which needs to be studied and practiced regularly. Ayurvedic head massage is turning out to be quite popular everywhere in the world.
- For centuries, we Indians have grown up with the knowledge that a good scalp massage can rid you of tensions and aches, all the while providing your scalp and hair strength.
- You’ve had a long day at work and by the time you get home you’re completely stressed. Your head feels ready to explode with all the tension and you just want to relax at home. So what do you do then? Something as simple as a head massage can go a long way in relieving you of your stress and worries while also catering to your overall well-being! A good Ayurvedic massage is the best way to de-stress. What’s even better, you can do it at your own time and comfort! It comprises of kneading actions on the head and scalp with the generous use of oil. Anyone who has undergone an Ayurvedic head massage will testify that it is one of the most relaxing forms of massage
- Shiroabhyanga or Ayurvedic massage is an essential part of a healthy daily routine. Regular massage helps detoxification of the body and provides nourishment to the deeper tissues. This daily regimen produces a powerful preventive and rejuvenative effect on the body. It also leaves you feeling young, vital, beautiful, and healthy. Ayurvedic head massage focuses on the shoulders, neck, face and head, the areas most vulnerable to stress and tension. The head massage induces a state of calm, peace and tranquility and promotes high levels of alertness and concentration. Head Massage is part of the Ayurvedic bodywork anti-ageing system.
Stay healthy !