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Origins Of Indian Head Massage

Origins of Indian Head Massage

Indian Head Massage has been an important part of Indian life for thousands of years and is based on the ancient system of medicine known as Ayurveda.

It is the oldest recorded healing system used in India. The approach to health by using this system is through balancing both the body, mind and spirit.

Ayurveda recommends the use of massage along with yoga, meditation, exercise, diet, herbs and cleansing to promote long life.

How Indian Head Massage Works?

In today’s ever stressful society the importance of massage has never been so important.

An Indian Head Massage treatment incorporates a number of different techniques, which are a mixture of traditional Indian and Western techniques including the following:

Effleurage - a combination of slow, gentle stroking and brisker energetic movements are used

Petrissage -These are deeper movements involving the skin and muscle being moved from their position and squeezed with a firm pressure away from the underlying structure and then released

Tapotement -This type of technique is performed with the fingers and involve a series of light, springy movements with both hands in quick succession. There are several movements used including hacking, chopping and tapping.

Frictions -One of the main features of the massage is the use of friction movements, using the whole hand, the heel of the hand, fingers or thumbs. These movements are much deeper than the others and help to break down tension nodules that have accumulated over time through long term stress and tension.

Vibrations -These movements are applied with one or both hands using the palm of the hand or the fingertips using a range of fine shaking, trembling or oscillating movements and can be fine, deep or vigorous depending on the effect required.

Pressure Points -These are vital energy points very similar to acupuncture located in the head. Balancing the life force energy within these points helps to promote good health at all levels within the body. They are applied with the fingers and thumbs during the treatment.

Compression -This is technique where the muscles are pressed against a surface, e.g. the scalp, top of the shoulders or the upper arms using the palms of the hands.

Hair Tugging -This is used in the scalp massage where the roots of the hair are lifted and pulled upwards in between the fingers of both hands.

Oils used in Treatment

There are a number of different oils that can be used for an Indian Head Massage including: grapeseed, sesame, coconut, olive, mustard, almond and jasmine. The most popular one is grapeseed which can be used on all skin and hair types.

When oil is applied to the head this helps to strengthen the hair and remove dryness and helps to relax the muscles and nerves of the head leading to the individual feeling refreshed and revigorated.

As a result of massaging the head there is an increase in the fresh supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain.

Areas of the body worked in the Treatment  

A typical Indian Head Massage treatment consists of massage to the upper back and shoulders, the upper arms, neck, head and face.

The treatment can be carried out both with oils and without, where the treatment is carried out through the clothes.

The Shoulders -The treatment begins at the upper back and shoulders, an area where a majority of individuals hold a lot of tension and when the body is tense then this can lead to the muscles going into spasm. This can cause the neck and shoulders to become stiff and inflexible. The treatment helps to reduce the effects of stress and allows the shoulders to relax leading to energy flowing more freely and improving joint mobility.

The Upper Arms -When the shoulders are tense this can lead to a reduction in the movement in the upper body and the upper arms tend to be very close to the chest either at the front or sides, whilst the elbows tend to bend upwards. The positive effect of the treatment can reduce the tension and tightness in the upper arms and improve the overall flexibility of both the arms and shoulders.

The Neck -When the body is out of balance and under constant stress, this has the effect on the head, with the head tending to come forwards and the chin pushes further out. As a result, the neck muscles tense up and take the full weight of the head with the neck muscles becoming stiff and tight overtime. By working on the neck area, the energy flow is able to open up from the spine to the whole head, thus reducing tension and improving posture.

The Head -When we are under stress the scalp muscles of the head tighten, this restricts the blood flow and can lead to headaches, eyestrain, neck and shoulder tension. During the treatment, the massaging of the scalp helps to reduce the stress in the head and improves the circulation and condition of the hair as well as relieving tension and fatigue.

The Face -This is an area of the body that tends to show tension on a regular basis. When we are tense, the jaw line tends to clamp up, the teeth may grind together and the lips tighten. When the facial muscles are massaged this helps to melt away the tension and relax the muscles.

After Care Advice

To achieve the maximum benefits from the treatment then all of the following guidelines need to be considered:

1. Drink plenty of water to help with the body’s natural detoxification process

2. Only consume a light meal to allow the body to use its energy for healing

3. No alcohol for 24 hours 

4. Enjoy a relaxing rest immediately after the treatment

5. Reduce the consumption of tea, coffee and alcohol

6. Take more time out for yourself and use stress relieving techniques such as correct breathing, yoga, meditation and relaxation to promote a feeling of calmness

7. Use simple massage techniques and oils at home to promote long- term hair care

Reactions to Indian Head Massage

After the treatment, the body can suffer a reaction and this may vary according to the physical and emotional condition of the individual. This is known as a “healing crisis”, as the body adjusts itself back into balance. This reaction will only be temporary and below is a list of reactions that may occur after your treatment:

1. Feeling of tiredness, lethargy, dizziness or nausea

2. An aching and soreness of the muscles due to the release of toxins and the nerves responding to the massage

3. Heightened emotional state, which could be crying, laughter and depression

4. Increase in urination

5. An increase in mucus from the nose or mouth

6. Disturbed night’s sleep

7. Cold-like symptoms


There are many positive reactions from receiving an Indian Head Massage and below is a list of those:

1. A relief from long-term stress and muscular tension

2. A complete feeling of calm, peace and serenity 

3. A much-improved sleep pattern

4. A real feeling of alertness and clearing of the mind

5. Increase in energy levels and a more positive frame of mind

6. Pain relief

7. An increase in the mobility of the joints

8. Helps with sinus congestion and tinnitus

9. The condition of the hair is much healthier

In order to maximise the benefits of the treatment it is advisable to receive an Indian Head Massage on a regular basis to promote good health.