History of Indian Head Massage
Massage dates back nearly 4000 years and is based on the ancient Ayurvedic healing system which is mentioned in the earliest Ayurvedic texts. Ayurveda is the oldest healing science in existence. In these texts, it is said that massage provides an important medical function, encouraging the body’s natural healing energy and processes, especially when used in conjunctions with herbs, spices and aromatic oils.
Since ancient times, massage has had a valued role in India, as a holistic therapy which incorporates mind, body and spirit. Passed down from generation to generation, massage is integrated into Indian life from birth, with babies often receiving a daily massage for the first three years of their life to maintain suppleness and good health. This often continues a couple of times a week until the age of six, after which the child will take part in the family grooming tradition.
Indian Head Massage became popular over a thousand years ago, originally practiced by the women to keep their hair in a beautiful condition, stimulating blood flow to the scalp and nourishing the hair with different oils. Since this time, this form of massage has developed to include also include massage of the face, ears, neck, upper back, shoulders and arms.
Indian Head Massage grew to become something routinely offered by hairdressers and barbers in India. Barbers offered their male clients a Champi, which is an invigorating scalp massage, as part of their services. It is from this word that the English ‘shampoo’ is derived. The head massage offered by women was much more of a soothing and relaxing massage, using oils to keep hair long and lustrous.
Nowadays in India it is usual to have hair trimmed, a wet shave and a head massage all as part of the package. Head massage is routinely offered in salons, markets, street corners and even on the beaches as an accepted part of Indian culture.
Indian Head Massage was introduced to England by Narendra Mehta. Having being blind from a very young age, Narendra became highly sensitive to the power of touch. In 1973, Narendra came from India to England to train as a physiotherapist. Narendra found that the head was often completely neglected, even in a full body massage, and head massage was not something readily available, despite it being something embedded into daily life in his home country. Missing the therapeutic benefits of regular head massage, Narenda returned home to India in 1978 to research further into the ancient tradition of head massage. He found that barbers concentrated on the scalp, whereas the women concentrated on the hair, and techniques differed as they had been passed down the generations.
His research led him to conclude that the therapeutic benefit of head massage could be greatly enhanced by including areas that accumulate stress and tension, namely the face, neck, shoulders and upper back. He also discovered that by incorporating an Ayurvedic element into the massage and working on the three higher chakras (crown, brow and throat) the body’s energy system as a whole could be rebalanced. Based on these conclusions, Narenda developed his own version of Indian Head Massage – Champissage™ – which as a holistic therapy treated the whole person, not just the head. This new therapy was introduced to England in 1981 at a ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’ exhibition. Over the next few years Narenda revised and expanded his techniques to bring us to the modern version of Indian Head Massage.
Benefits of Indian Head Massage
- Relief from muscular tension, pain and stiffness in the scalp, face, neck, shoulders and upper back
- Mobilisation and stretching of the neck and shoulders
- Relief from tension headaches, eyestrain, nasal congestion and sinus related problems
- Increased circulation, eliminating waste material and bringing oxygen and fresh nutrients to the tissues
- Improved blood flow to the brain
- Improved lymphatic drainage and removal of waste and toxins
- Boosting overall immunity
- Smoothing of facial muscles and improved skin condition
- Strong, healthy hair
- Alleviation of stress, anxiety and mild depression
- Improved sleeping patterns and alleviation of insomnia
- Increased concentration, improved memory and clarity of thought
- A sense of peace, tranquility and general calmness
- Re-balancing of the chakras and general increased energy levels
What to expect during an Indian head Massage therapy session
A complete Indian Head Massage session will last 30-45 minutes. The therapist should start by asking you some general questions about your health to ensure that it is safe for you to receive the treatment. It is important to let the therapist know if you have any broken skin or open sores on your head, have recently had an operation, are taking any medication, have any skin conditions, have any allergies, are pregnant or suffer from epilepsy.
For a full Indian Head Massage, the therapist is likely to need access to your upper back. For ladies, you may be asked to slip down your bra straps and given a wrap around towel to protect your modesty so that a light oil can be applied to massage the upper back and shoulders. If you are not comfortable with this, wear a thin top. You will also be asked to remove any necklaces and earrings.
Whilst an Indian Head Massage will do wonders for your hair, it doesn’t necessarily do the same for hair-dos. Remember to take something to tie your hair up whilst you have the back and shoulder massage and you can also use it to tie long hair back afterwards, especially if you choose to have oil rubbed in.
An Indian Head Massage can either be performed in a sitting position in a low back chair or by lying down on a therapy couch.
You will likely be offered to have oils rubbed into your back and scalp, this is a personal preference and if you would prefer not to have oil rubbed into the head just let your therapist know.
Some of the massage will be quite firm, but if you find the pressure uncomfortable or would prefer a little more pressure, again, just let your therapist know.
The therapist will normally start by massaging the upper back, and then work on the shoulders, upper arms and neck to relax the muscles and release tension. They will then move on to the head and scalp before finishing with a gentle face massage.
Afterwards, you will be offered a glass of water and given some aftercare advice. As massage aids the removal of toxins from the body, you will be encouraged to drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking where possible for the next 24 hours, as these increase toxins. You will also be advised of possible temporary side effects which should subside within 24 – 48 hours of the treatment.
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