Indian women have long known the secret to having long, luxurious hair: a regular head massage with spices and warm oils massaged gently yet firmly into the scalp. Many also say that regular massaging gets rid of the gray. Sound good? These days, people have head massages not only to give volume – and grease – to their hair, but to make them feel better overall.
Relax your mind and reap the benefits of an Indian Scalp Massage.
The Hindi word for head massage is “champi,” and many people practiced this technique of “champissage” alongside meditation, yoga and other ways to relax. While in the West massages traditionally often concentrated only on the head, shoulders and back, in India the head was seen as the first path to relaxation – so it all seemingly makes sense.
The name, however, is a bit of misnomer as the massage does not concentrate only on the head or scalp. It also concentrates on the neck, shoulders and face – some people refer to it as the “natural face lift” – bringing about relief from any muscular or tension-related complaints that have accumulated in those areas.
Proponents of the technique, based on ancient Ayurvedic medicine, say it can actually benefit other parts of the body as well, and that when used with certain oils it can get rid of gray hair (see below). As the practitioner concentrates on specific acupressure points in the aforementioned areas, it’s claimed, a whole range of ailments throughout the body can improve.
Benefits of Indian Scalp Massage
Indian head massage not only alleviates stress, it also can “stimulate the body to heal itself and to reduce the rate of progress of the prevailing condition,” according to Amarjeet Bhamra, president of the Institute of Indian Head Massage.
Proponents of Indian scalp massage and followers of Bhamra say this technique can:
Help promote a general feeling of relaxation and well-being
Alleviate tense, knotted muscles and other sites on tension in the body
Help get rid of toxins in the body
Improve circulation, and make the lymphatic drainage system work more effectively
Make you more alert and increase your ability to concentrate
Help with joint and other stiffness in the body
Relieve headaches associated with muscle tension or stress
Others say it can help alleviate specific ailments, although there is scant scientific proof that this is the case. Problems they believe can be helped through this massage include:
Condition of hair and skin
Lethargy and boredom
If you visit a med spa for Indian head massage, there is no need to undress. You can even have the massage while sitting in a chair, which is why some people prefer it to more traditional massages. It also works well in a corporate environment for this reason.
A massage will last up usually from 30 to 40 minutes, and follows a brief health consultation. Please note that such massages are not substitutes for traditional medicine, and are commonly seen as a relaxation technique and not much more, although some people use it for hair growth.
While essential oils can be added to enhance the treatment, if you are pregnant, trying to conceive or have a specific medical condition, tell the practitioner beforehand. Some oils are not recommended during pregnancy, or for people with certain medical complaints.
Purported Benefits to Hair
Indian Scalp Massage is sometimes used for people seeking to receive benefits to their hair. In this circumstance specific oils are used to moisturize hair and keep it healthy. They include almond oil, gooseberry oil, sesame oil, mustard oil, coconut oil, neem oil and more. Believers in the hair benefits of this massage believe it can:
Strengthen the roots
Help get rid of dandruff
Control psoriasis on the head
Make hair more shiny and lustrous overall
Stop the graying process, if neem oil is used, and helps protect hair from sun damage
Neem is an evergreen tree that grows mainly in India. An oil made from the pressed seeds and fruits of this abundant plant are said to have myriad benefits, including warding off insects, preparing cosmetics and helping with rheumatic disorders. In Ayurvedic medicine, neem has traditionally been used in the treatment of everything from acne to leprosy.
Studies have shown that neem can cause problems when trying to conceive, or even an abortifacient effect – meaning it can cause abortion. It is generally thought that products made from neem are safe for pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant as long as they actually consume any of the substance. Soaps, shampoos etc made from neem are considered safe.
Indian scalp massage is generally seen as having widespread benefits, the primary one being that it relaxes and calms, easing muscle tension and stress. It has been practiced for hundreds of years and in some countries is as common as a back massage is in the United States, and is often carried out by family members who don’t have specialist training.
If you want to try it yourself, there are many practitioners who offer variations of the massage – for a usually hefty fee. Then again, you may want to invest in a family-sized bottle of inexpensive coconut oil-based conditioner and ask a friend to rub your head for an hour.
Pick a massage oil you like, then have them start on the neck, using circular motions with their fingertips while applying a slight pressure up and down. Move their fingers to the middle of the head and do the same, working towards the forehead. Then have them place their thumbs on either side of your head next to ears and move them around gently yet firmly in concentric circles.
Finally, ask them to massage your whole head, moving down to your head and shoulders. Ask them to concentrate on areas that feel tense or tight – tell your partner what feels best and be their guide. As long as they are gentle and listen to you, you can’t go wrong.
Having a massage at least twice a week will yield the best long-term results. And remember, it’ll be your turn to provide a massage next time, so take careful notes…