Indian Head Massage

By Karrie Osborn

For 5,000 years, head massage has been a part of India’s rich culture. It’s held a special place both in the “kitchen table wisdom” of local Hindu mothers and in the medical bag of ayurvedic physicians.

Also known as shiroabhyanga, Indian head massage is one of at least 40 different types of massage that, along with a host of other diagnostic tools, are utilized by ayurvedic practitioners to address symptoms and conditions of ill health.

According to Amarjeet Bhamra, author of Indian Head Massage: A Practical Approach, the intent of this massage is not only to ward off stress, but also to “stimulate the body to heal itself and to reduce the rate of progress of the prevailing condition.”

Bhamra says the practice of head massage, in particular, is a weekly ritual an Indian woman performs on her children while they sit on her lap under the open sky. Oils are typically part of the act, both to soothe the spirit and to nurture the skin and hair. Indian head massage is said to balance every system in the body, and the benefits associated with it make up a lengthy list.

The Indian head massage routine typically begins with the upper back, moving to the shoulder girdle, the arms and hands, up the neck to the scalp, and finally the face and ears. When the massage is complete, many clients report feeling as if they just received a full-body massage.

Bhamra says Indian head massage is safe for all ages and even pregnant women. In fact, he says, it is customary in India for both mother and newborn to receive this work for 40 continuous days after delivery.

Karrie Osborn is editor of Body Sense.