The Indian head massage that I practise is a wonderfully eclectic mix of Eastern and Western massage practises, incorporating techniques from ayurvedic massage, shiatsu and Swedish massage, which is why I love it! It has many effects and benefits, working at an emotional and physical level, but fundamentally it is a deeply relaxing treatment.
The ancient Sanskrit texts of wisdom The Vedas are based on the concept that health and happiness are achieved when body, mind and spirit are in balance, and the three disciplines of ayurveda (body), yoga (mind) and tantra (spirit) aim to achieve that.
Ayurveda is a form of alternative medicine that uses practices focusing on the body (rather than the mind or spirit) to prevent ill health and treat disease. Indian head massage (also known as champissage) is one of the traditional ayurvedic techniques originating in India.
Indian head massage has traditionally been practised in the family setting in India, but it was introduced to the West in the 1970s by Narendra Mehta and has become a popular alternative therapy practised commercially in clinics, salons, spas and even shopping centres. Its popularity is in part due to the fact that the client can remain fully clothed for the treatment, so it appeals to people who may be shy about undressing for other therapies and it is suitable for all (the very young, the elderly, pregnant women). Also, it does not require a specialised couch or other equipment, so can be performed anywhere.
Indian head massage is usually conducted with the receiver seated, but it can also be performed on a couch, which can be even more relaxing. The treatment is carried out in the following sequence: upper back, shoulders, upper arms, neck, scalp, ears and face. The techniques used include effleurage (soothing and stroking movements), petrissage (kneading and squeezing), tapotement (hacking and tapping), friction (rubbing and ‘shampooing’), feathering (light finger pressure), stretching (of the neck), rotation (of the shoulder joint). I use a light oil for Indian head massage, which is suitable for the face. The treatment takes 30 minutes, so is easier to fit into a busy schedule than some others.