When was the last time you had a head massage?
That calm and stress-free zone we get transported to after a soothing head massage is pure bliss, isn't it?
"Besides just relieving you from stress, Ayurvedic head massages present exceptional benefits to your scalp by promoting stronger hair growth ," says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
If you have ever wondered how they work like magic, here is a comprehensive know-how of Indian Ayurvedic head massages.
What Is Ayurvedic Head Massage?
Ayurvedic head massage is an ancient therapeutic treatment that has been practiced in India for 5000+ years. It involves a variety of pressure techniques including circular massage strokes that focus on your head, shoulders, and neck regions.
These deep massage techniques, when used in conjunction with aromatic oils and Ayurvedic herbal formulations, improves your scalp and hair condition. It also stimulates the natural healing abilities of your body.
What Are Marmas Or Pressure Points?
As per Ayurveda, your body contains 108 vital points called ‘Marmas’ in which 31 marmas are present in your head region. These marmas are the pressure points where the arteries, veins, and cranial nerves intersect.
"The marmas are the bi-directional emissary veins which aid in draining, cooling and relieving pressure in the head region,’’ says Dr. Zeel.
Important Marmas Of Head
It is the soft spot in the center of the skull, which is located about 8 fingers width above the eyebrows.
These are five suture joints present across the scalp region.
There are two Krikatika points located at the junction of your head and neck (occipital-cervical joint) on either side of the cervical vertebrae.
There are two Vidhuram points each present behind and below both of your ears. These are the depressions just behind your earlobes.
There are two Shankha points each present in the temples between the ears and forehead.
There are two Utkshepa points, each present at the level of scalp hair lining above the Shankha points.
Ayurvedic head massages work on these marmas  or pressure points to boost the blood circulation in emissary veins, the scalp vasculature, and intracranial circulation. This indeed promotes healthy and stronger hair growth.
However, before having any kind of Ayurvedic head massage, your therapist examines your Prakriti and conditions to evaluate the current status of your Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha levels. Thus, the right Ayurvedic herbal formulations are chosen to target the underlying factors of your illnesses, including hair related problems.
Types Of Indian Ayurvedic Head Massages
1. Shiro Abhyanga
Shiro abhyanga is one of the most popular head massage techniques used for stress relief. It includes a systematic procedure of activating marmas in the head, neck, and shoulder regions in your body.
1. During shiro abhyanga, you need to sit in the upright position.
2. The first region that is focussed in shiro abhyanga is your shoulders. The therapist applies the Ayurvedic oil to your shoulders and starts squeezing the muscles slowly.
3. Then, palms are placed on the neck while a slow and circular massage is given below the collar bone using thumbs.
4. This stroke is repeated 3-5 times while the intensity is gradually increased with each stroke.
5. Finally, palms are placed on the shoulders and then, the shoulder muscles are rotated towards your neck.
6. Now, the therapist puts one palm on the back of your neck and the other palm on your forehead.
7. Without any kind of exertion, your head is bowed down slowly while simultaneously stretching the back of your neck downwards.
8. After a few seconds, the head is moved back to the upright position and neck muscles are released.
9. This is repeated gently for about 5 minutes while preventing the occurrence of any kind of strain in the neck.
10. Now, the therapist puts the palms on both sides on your scalp with fingers pointing upwards.
11. By applying gentle pressure, your scalp muscles are slightly moved upwards.
12. Then, slow circular massaging strokes are given on both the sides of your head using finger pads.
13. Similarly, the central part of your head is also stroked in a circular motion. This process is repeated across the marma points on your head for over 10 minutes.
14. Now, you will be laid down on your back for forehead massage.
15. Your forehead is rubbed with oil in the downwards direction from the top.
16. Then, the therapist places both the palms above ears on the sides of your forehead and strokes the muscles in an up-down motion.
17. Finally, the central part of your forehead is gently stroked in a circular motion with finger pads while slowly moving in the direction of your eyebrows.
18. Later, you can close your eyes and relax for about 10-20 minutes before washing hair with an Ayurvedic shampoo.
Oils To Use
1. Dhanwantharam oil is the most commonly used Ayurvedic formulation in shiro abhyanga for balancing Vata.
2. To balance Pitta, Ksheerabala thailam and asana manjishtadi thailam are the best choices.
3. Nirgundi oil, eladi thailam, and surasadi oil are used to balance Kapha dosha.
Shirodhara  involves treating your forehead, where the nerves are highly concentrated, by pouring a stream of warm Ayurvedic liquids. A gentle pressure of a warm medicated liquid is applied on your forehead which leaves you in a meditative state.
1. In this massage technique, you will lie on your back on the shirodhara table.
2. A small cloth or pillow is kept under your neck for support.
3. A shirodhara pot containing medicated liquid hangs from the ceiling, while it points towards your forehead region.
4. The pot is hanged at around the height of 10 centimeters from your forehead.
5. The shirodhara pot contains a pore at the bottom from where the warm liquids are slowly poured on to your forehead in oscillatory motions.
6. This way, the continuous stream of medicated liquid goes from the right lateral region of your forehead to the left lateral region and vice versa.
7. After 45 minutes, the liquids are wiped off from your forehead and you need to relax for another half an hour.
8. Later, you can bath with medicated warm water.
Ingredients To Use
A. Generally, for shiro dhara, Ayurvedic oils like sesame oil, ksheerabala thailam, lakshadi thailam, brahmi thailam, shatavari tailam, manjishtadi thailam, yashtimadhu thailam, etc. are used for the treatment of Vata disorders.
B. Coconut water, ghee, or milk are used to treat Pitta imbalances.
C. Alcohol (fermented liquid from cereals), buttermilk, danyamalam, etc. are used for Kapha dosha related problems.
3. Shiro Pichu
Shiro Pichu is an Ayurvedic head massage treatment that involves soaking your head region with medicated oils using a sterile cotton cloth or pad. It is very effective in preventing various psychosomatic disorders as per Ayurveda.
1. In Shiro Pichu, a gauze pad or a cotton cloth called ‘Pichu’ is soaked in warm medicated herbal oil.
2. Now, this Pichu is placed over the anterior fontanelle on your head.
3. The Pichu can be removed after 45 minutes.
4. Later, a relaxing massage is given to the head and neck regions with warm oil.
Oils To Use
Balaswagandhadi thailam, dharani oil (for Kapha), dhanwantharam thailam, mahanarayana thailam, ksheerabala thailam, sahacharadi thailam, etc. are some of the most powerful Ayurvedic oil you can opt for Shiro Pichu.
4. Shiro Vasti
The word ‘Shiro’ refers to the head while vasti (or basti) means the process of pooling of medicated herbal oils on the head. It is one of the most intensive, effective yet selective treatments for different Vata-related disorders.
1. Ayurvedic shiro vasti needs to be performed in the evenings or at nights.
2. In shiro vasti, you are made to sit on a wooden stool and a cap made of flexible leather is fitted on your head.
3. A special ship-shaped cap or hat of 10-12 inch height used in shiro vasti has openings on both sides.
4. Now, the cap is filled with warm medicated oils made of different selected herbs to the height of 1-2 inches. The oils should not leak from the cap.
5. The oil is retained in the cap until the Kapha appears in the nose, mouth, and ears while your head region gets thoroughly soaked.
6. The average time duration to retain the oil is around 30-40 minutes for Vata disorders, 20-30 minutes for Pitta related problems, and 15-20 minutes for Kapha disorders.
7. People with no health-related issues can retain the oil in the cap for 10-15 minutes.
8. During this time, you should avoid shaking your head, laughing, or sneezing.
9. Later, the oil is drained out and your head is wiped with a dry and clean cotton cloth.
10. Again, a gentle massage is given with the medicated oil at marmas on the head as well as the body before giving you a warm water bath.
11. After that, Rasnadi churnam is applied.
Oils To Use
Karpasashiyad, kshirabala, bala, narayana thailam, etc are some of the most common Ayurvedic oil formulations used in shiro vasti. However, Ayurvedic doctors use combinations of different medicated oils with an individual spectrum of healing properties based on the targeting issues and underlying dosha imbalances.
5. Self Head Massaging With Warm Oils
Ayurveda recommends having a therapeutic head massage at least once in a fortnight to keep your doshas in balance while providing ultimate rejuvenation to your scalp and head region. However, it may not be possible for all to visit Ayurvedic practitioners regularly.
In such cases, you can incorporate self-massaging with dosha specific Ayurvedic oils to carry similar benefits that you avail at massage centers. But as a preliminary step, you need to determine your Prakriti and find out which doshas need to be balanced.
1. Ensure you use warm oil to self-massage your scalp.
2. Take a tablespoon of Ayurvedic oil into your hands and apply it in the crown region of your scalp. Spread the oil across the central part of your scalp with gentle to and fro stroking.
3. Now, start working the oil from the sides of your scalp to the top. Reverse the direction and repeat the massage in both circular and oscillatory motions.
4. Later, work your way from the back of your head to the center of the scalp. Again, reverse the direction and repeat the massage.
5. Now, massage your whole scalp slowly in circular movements using finger pads.
6. Squeeze your temples gently using the heel pads of your hands while you give wide and circular strokes gently.
7. Put your head slightly down and start massaging the back of your neck by rolling and squeezing the muscles while you slowly work towards the bottom region of your neck.
8. Now, place your left and right thumbs in the occipital areas on either side of your vertebral bone. Then, with a gentle rubbing movement, relax the tight muscles there.
9. Rub the depression points behind your ears slowly with your finger pads by applying slight pressure.
10. Finally, place your palms with interlocked fingers on your scalp and move from the front to back regions by applying slight pressure. Repeat the massage by reversing the direction.
Oils To Use
A. For Vata disorders, sesame oil is considered to be one of the best choices. Also, Ayurvedic oils with herbs like bala, shatavari, ashwagandha, gunja, etc. can be very beneficial in strengthening and nourishing your scalp and hair roots.
B. For Pitta disorders, you can opt for oils with cooling properties like coconut oil or sunflower oil. Also, herbal oils containing brahmi, manjishtha, guduchi, yashtimadhu, etc. can be very helpful in balancing Pitta.
C. Kapha related issues can be resolved by regular scalp massaging with oils that contain herbs like chitrak, calamus, camphor, punarnava, rosemary, etc. You can also choose sesame, corn, or almond oils for self-massaging.
D. Also, oils with tridosha hara herbs like bhringraj , kumari, brahmi, etc. can be used by anyone to keep their doshas in balance while imparting the exceptional soothing effect of head massage.
In 2018, a scientific experiment  conducted on men revealed that there is a significant increase in hair growth and hair thickness after they underwent 4 minutes of standardized scalp massage every day for about 24 weeks.
Benefits Of Ayurvedic Head Massages
1. Relieves you from anxiety and stress
2. Controls your emotional stress and tension
3. Aids in the release of endorphins (hormones which make you feel happy)
4. Hair growth stimulation
5. Resolves sleep deprivation and promotes sound sleep
6. Reduces migraines and headaches
7. Enhances memory, alertness, and cognition.
8. Strengthens your senses and brings you clarity.
9. Provides deep nourishment and promotes healthy hair growth
10. Imparts lustrous shine to your mane
11. Strengthens your nervous and circulatory systems
12. Bring balance to your hormone levels by supporting your brain functionalities.
Please make sure you discuss your health history in detail with your Ayurvedic practitioner to ensure the administration of the most suitable herbal formulations and head massage techniques without any side effects.
The Last Word
Your head is the most significant part of your body which has vital energy points that connect to the mind and brain. Ayurvedic head massaging techniques or murdha taila revitalize your three higher ‘chakras’ - body, mind, and spirit, while bringing balance to your core biological forces, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which control various aspects of your health.
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