The Art of Indian Head Massage – Massage

Indian Head MassageIndian head massage is said to be both a science and an art. It offers many benefits such as keeping hair strong, lustrous and healthy and provides relief for conditions such as tension and migraine headaches, insomnia and disturbed sleep, stress and related illnesses and tense back, shoulder and neck muscles. Indian head massage is a wonderfully relaxing therapy which leaves you feeling peaceful, calm, refreshed and rejuvenated restoring natural harmony and balance to mind, body and spirit.What is Indian Head Massage and where did it come from?Indian head massage is a combination of massage strokes and techniques which will vary from therapist to therapist, hence the reference to it being both a science and an art. Each stroke or touch affects the mind, body and spirit in some way and balanced with the way in which the stroke or touch is applied creates the art. Every therapist will bring their own energy to it.Indian head massage comes from the Vedic wisdom of Ayurveda; the ancient system of healing which originated in India thousands of years ago. Traditionally, in India, a head massage is given from birth using oil. As well as increasing circulation the gentle touch of a mother massaging her baby is both soothing and comforting. Their energy will intertwine; resonate.Most people are familiar with the ‘soft spot’ located at the top of a baby’s head. Known as the fontanelle this membrane covered opening is the space between the two bones of the skull which do not fully join until the infant is around 9 months old. During this first stage of a baby’s life because of the fontanelle, head massage with nourishing oils can directly affect the nervous system, which in turn benefits the development and functioning of both the brain and the eyesight. Indian mothers will also often place an oil soaked piece of cotton on their baby’s head to provide as much nourishment to their brain as possible. Traditionally sesame, mustard, coconut, almond and olive oils were used. In the present day therapists utilise the healing properties of essential oils which bring many other benefits to the head massage treatment.Around 80% of the population of India live in small rural villages where the tradition of Indian head massage is very much a part of every day life. Head massage is an enjoyable family and social activity and its skilful art is passed down from generation to generation. It is not just limited to family life and indeed in India barbers used to offer ‘champi’ which means head massage as well as a hair cut. Interestingly the English term ‘shampoo’ derives from the Hindu term ‘champi’.What are the other benefits of Indian Head Massage?Regular Indian Head Massage Treatment will:-
strengthen the central nervous system and assist all the systems of the body restore and renew themselves;
increase energy levels;
provide relief from tension and migraine headaches;
lower blood pressure;
bring about immediate feelings of peace, relaxation and calm;
provide relief from stress, anxiety, depression and other stress related conditions;
increase oxygen and glucose supplies to the brain resulting in optimum brain functioning and higher levels of clarity and concentration;
increase blood flow resulting in dissolution of accumulated toxins within the body;
provide immediate relief to aching, stiff and tense deep and superficial muscles located in the upper back, shoulder and neck areas;
enable energy cleansing and balancing of specific marmas (pressure points) located in the head;
stimulate the three major head chakras helping to restore and balance mind, body and spirit;
promote hair growth and hair lustre;
reduce premature balding and greying;
promote calm and relaxed sleep encouraging a natural sleep pattern;
maintain electro-chemical balance which provides rejuvenation and longevity;
increase the secretion of hormones necessary for the growth and development of the brain
The stresses and strains that our modern day living puts on us means there is little time for complete relaxation. Many people don’t allow themselves the time or space to rejuvenate and to restore the natural and harmonious balance that is essential for a healthy mind, body and spirit.A shocking 75% of all visits to the GP are stress related and ailments such as digestive disorders (IBS, diarrhoea, constipation), ulcers, insomnia, high blood pressure, mood swings, hypochondria, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite and headaches to name but a few can all be attributed to stress.In seeking relief for stress related conditions people become more aware of the underlying causes of their stress and so in addition to being a highly effective therapy for relieving stress, head massage also enables people to become more self aware and thus healing can take place from within resulting in good personal energy.Indian head massage can be provided with or without oils. Using essential oils will:-
strengthen hair
remove dryness which causes brittle hair
soften the skin/scalp
delay hair loss and greying
encourage healthy hair growth
nourish the scalp
condition hair leaving it soft and shiny
manage dandruff
eliminate (sometimes instantly) itchy and flaky scalp
reduce brittleness caused by colouring, perming and treating
help relieve insomnia, eye strain and tension and migraine headaches.
Each individual essential oil brings its own unique healing properties to the head massage treatment.Marjoram is particularly effective in treating both migraine and tension headaches.Lavender is very calming and soothing, perfect for insomnia, aches and pains.Frankincense has the ability to slow the breath and so is the ideal choice for anxiety and stress related conditions.The therapeutic properties of Clary Sage are antidepressant and calming making it good oil for Indian head massage.The choice of oil will be dependent on the conditions and symptoms of the individual. Often a massage blend can be used containing many essential oils which will not only enhance physical and emotional benefits but add to the health of the hair.How is Indian Head Massage performed?The beauty of Indian head massage is that it can be performed at anytime and anywhere!Whilst some therapists provide Indian head massage in a salon setting often lying down or using a massage chair, providing the space is clean, relaxing and peaceful all that is required is a comfortable chair with a low back (the head massage begins in the middle of the back). This makes it the perfect ‘lunch break’ therapy or alternatively in the comfort of your own home. Traditionally Indian head massage is performed with the person receiving the massage sitting upright on a chair fully clothed but this will vary from therapist to therapist.Whether the room for head massage is in a salon, a therapist’s home or the client’s home, the therapist will prepare the room with relaxing music, dim lights, candles and a burner with relaxing Aromatherapy oils which usually compliment those used in the head massage.The massage begins at the 10th thoracic vertebra and using a combination of massage strokes such as petrissage (finger tip pressure), effleurage (thumb sweeping), kneading and hacking clears the flow of energy to the head making it more susceptible to the massage. By rubbing, squeezing, manipulating, kneading, massaging and tapping the muscles and marmas, which as previously mentioned, are pressure points located throughout the body, in this case in the upper back, shoulder, neck and head, the central nervous system is strengthened. The central nervous system impacts on all the other systems of the body and so an Indian head massage gives the effects of a full body massage.Therapists have their own massage sequence, techniques and strokes. As a rule of thumb this begins with the back, moving to the shoulders, upper arms, neck, head, ears and face finishing with a cleansing and balancing of the subtle energy system known as the chakras.Although not all therapists practice chakra/energy cleansing and balancing, this is a huge aspect and major benefit of head massage and certainly what brought me to this wonderful therapy.Can I perform Indian Head Massage myself or do I need a therapist?My own recommendation is to balance the two. I would encourage you to seek a good therapist and have at least one head massage a month, two if you are able. In between perform head massage yourself once or twice a week. There is a specific book I recommend for this purpose at the end of this section.Do check that your therapist has a recognised qualification in Indian head massage.Do tell your therapist any conditions and/or symptoms you have.Do ask about the use of oils and their properties to find the one or blend which is right for you.My own introduction to Indian Head MassageMy daughter had an accident on her bicycle badly injuring her hand and breaking one of her fingers. The doctor said it would take around 8-12 weeks for her finger to heal completely and we had to attend the hospital weekly for the finger to be redressed and examined.I have for most of my life been aware of my ability to tap into what I to that point could only describe as ‘energy’. I would perhaps feel something in a particular house or environment, know distinctly when something wasn’t right or be able to pick up on the feelings and thoughts of others without them actually communicating this to me.Up until the point my daughter injured her hand however I had often been quite afraid of this ‘energy’ and most of the time had shied away from it.My little girl was in such pain with her hand that without thinking much about it I said I would heal her finger for her. From the day the accident happened I would regularly sit and hold her broken finger focusing my ‘energy’ on healing it. I would visualise this healing energy pouring from my heart, down through my arm and out of my fingers to heal her finger.She was discharged from the hospital after just four weeks. The more occasions I spent ‘healing’ her finger, the better it seemed to look on the outside and then as we visited the hospital we would be told it had got better. After just three weeks we were told that it had healed completely but we visited again on the fourth week to double check everything was ok.I felt like I had magic fingers. We kept this experience to ourselves because I don’t think I was totally convinced that it was my ‘healing hands’ that had healed my daughter’s finger so rapidly. My daughter however had no doubt in the fact that mummy’s magic hands had indeed done the trick!Following this I experimented a little. My mum had been experiencing tension headaches and she would often come over complaining of another headache and I would sit her down on one of my kitchen chairs and simply place my hands on her head and focus my energy to heal her headache. On most occasions her headache would go completely.In Autumn 2006 I came across Indian head massage and felt that with my new found ability to utilise my energy it was the perfect next step. To this point in my life I had always worked in busy office environments and so taking this course changed the direction of what I now consider ‘work’I have found that during the massage, particularly around the back, shoulder and neck area I can feel the tension in particular muscle groups and so effectively work on these areas to eliminate the build up of toxins which cause sore, stiff and aching muscles.Tension is often released when I am massaging the upper arms and the neck area.Stress is felt when massaging the scalp and generally the less freely the scalp moves the more stress the person is usually feeling.Energy is passed from therapist to client and vice versa. Before I begin a head massage I always centre myself and focus entirely on the person in front of me and on the massage itself.When I work with the subtle energy system at the very end of the head massage I can feel which energy centre is most imbalanced. I allow myself to be open to receiving this energy so that I am able to cleanse, heal and help restore balance. The massage closes with a throwing away of this energy, although subtle it is an important aspect and thus completes the therapy providing a refreshing feeling of peace, calm and relaxation.I feel privileged to be able to do this; to help others in such a simple and yet highly effective way.Recommended ReadingNarendra Mehta… Indian Head Massage, Discover the Power of TouchShelley Costello BSYA (I.H. Yoga Teach. Med. Teach) MASC (Life Coach)

Mobile Massage Therapy – Massage Reduces Stress, Relaxes and Boosts Immunity – Massage

The accumulation of everyday stressWorking long hours at the computer can result in stress, muscle tension, injury or pain which can drain you physically, mentally or emotionally. This can impact negatively on your social life as well as on your work. As the most important benefit of massage is the reduction of stress, general health can be improved and maintained by massage therapy and the negative effects of stress can be alleviated or prevented. On an ongoing basis it can reduce pain, prevent injuries and maintain health. It is an important part of staying healthy physically and mentally as it relieves stress which is responsible for 90% of illness and pain.Due to reflex effects through the autonomic nervous system, massage affects internal organs and areas removed from the area being treated. It promotes relaxation, reduces pain, boosts mood and mental clarity. Massage can be used for relaxation or stimulation and may be applied to rehabilitation after surgery, injury or poor health. It improves blood and lymph circulation, increases natural killer cells and lymphocytes which destroy cancer cells, boosts mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine and relieves pain by increasing pain killing endorphins. Massage can relax the body, decrease blood pressure and heart rate and reduce stress and depression. It may also provide symptomatic relief for acute and chronic conditions such as headache, facial pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. It realigns and rejuvenates, restoring balance to body and being, so you can take in your stride whatever life throws your way. It promotes digestion, joint mobility, muscle relaxation, relief of spasms and cramps.Bodywork as a medical treatmentMassage therapy is becoming increasingly sophisticated and effective as it moves into new areas such as medical massage which is the fastest growing modality of massage today. Training in massage therapy was an integral part of medical massage and nursing care up to the mid 1950s when it dropped to almost nothing due to the rapid development and almost exclusive use of technology in the twentieth century. Manual therapy was no longer seen as necessary for standard hospital care. Today, however, it is realized that massage in the hospital is necessary to provide a sense of wholeness and care which is absent in the increasing fragmentation of hospitalization due to the growing emphasis on specialization. Medical massage uses the traditional strokes of massage which are then specifically adapted to treat, for instance, cancer patients, hospital patients and pregnant women. Medical massage may be given in the hospital setting, an outpatient clinic or as a mobile therapy where the therapist travels to the patient’s home to give the patient a personally tailored treatment protocol.In massage therapy for the cancer patient, the therapist pays close attention to the side effects of the curative medical treatment to devise an appropriate protocol. Here the therapy is designed around the particular side effects the patient is experiencing such as pain, lymph-oedema, scarring, nausea, stress, tension, insomnia, fatigue, anger, depression and anxiety.Thus cancer massage is a uniquely designed therapy which complements the curative medical treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Hence, it requires more extensive knowledge of medical procedures, pathology and side effects than ordinary therapy. Failure to understand this will result in harm to the patient as the therapist will not be able to adapt the therapy to design a competent treatment protocol.In pregnancy massage the therapist must take into account mainly musculoskeletal issues caused by the weight of the growing uterus altering the centre of gravity of the woman’s body. Treatment in this case will focus especially on upper and lower back pain, sacroiliac dysfunction as well as pubic symphysis and lower abdominal pain. The therapist must also be alert to and able to detect acute medical problems such as deep vein thrombosis and preeclampsia which are both potentially fatal if not medically treated.Bodywork has a broad therapeutic applicationThe greatest benefit of massage is the reduction of stress and tension. Since a wide range of physical and psychological conditions stem from stress, massage can help alleviate these conditions and therefore has a broad therapeutic application. The most prominent benefit and use of massage is the alleviation of stress which then relieves muscular tension, promotes relaxation and treats lower back, neck and shoulder pain, pregnancy, bedsores, severe burns, iliotibial band syndrome and spinal cord injury as well as ameliorating systemic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, attention deficit disorder (ADD), fibromyalgia, asthma, autism, diabetes, bulimia, eczema, HIV, lymphoedema, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS).Sleep disorders, cancer-related fatigue, diabetes, high blood pressure, spinal cord injury, low back pain, lowered immunity, post-operative surgery, infertility, autism, eating disorders, age-related disorders and smoking cessation can all be treated by massage.Bodywork, such as shiatsu and massage, offers a drug-free, non-invasive and person centred approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself.Bodywork in PregnancyThe great physical, mental and emotional changes of pregnancy affect your lifestyle, your job and your relationships with friends and family. Massage helps you integrate these changes successfully. Massage therapy during pregnancy improves overall health, decreases stress and relieves muscles aches and pains. It addresses the many discomforts associated with the skeletal, muscular and circulation changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.Massage alleviates low back, hip and leg pain, oedema, nausea, heartburn and constipation. Regular massage decreases anxiety and lowers stress hormones during pregnancy. Labour is shorter and easier while babies are healthier. There are fewer obstetric and postnatal complications, such as premature birth and low birth weight.Bodywork for Cancer PatientsMassage for cancer patients is a safe, non-pharmacological treatment without any side effects. It helps reduce anxiety, fatigue, depression, stress, tension, anger, insomnia and improve self-image and quality of life. Massage may reduce pain, muscle tension, nausea, constipation, lymphoedema and scarring.Massage as a supportive care intervention for children with cancer helps reduce pain, anxiety, depression, constipation and high blood pressure. Massage also strengthens the function of the immune system and reduces nausea and depression during periods of immune suppression following chemotherapy.