Growing up in India, head massages were part of life. It wasn’t uncommon for my mother, or my grandma to massage my hair with herb infused oil, especially when I was stressed with school work. Ayurvedic head massage is an ancient therapeutic treatment that has been practiced in India for thousands of years and involves a variety of pressure techniques including circular massage strokes that focus on your head, shoulders, and neck regions.
According to Ayurveda, human body contains 108 vital points called ‘Marmas’ of which 31 marmas are present in your head region. These marmas are the pressure points where the arteries, veins, and cranial nerves intersect. These pressure points can be used uniquely to provide relief from a series of issues including migraines, back pain, insomnia amongst many others.
While I hadn’t practiced head massages consistently since my days in college, I came back to his age-old technique when I was pregnant with my first child. I found these deep massage techniques, used with aromatic oils and Ayurvedic herbal formulations, to help manage insomnia and improve my post pregnancy hair fall and scalp condition.
Ayurvedic head massages are a great addition to your self-care routines. Practiced consistently, weekly or bi-monthly, ayurvedic head massages increase the nutrition and oxygen in the hair follicle and scalp which in turn can relieve you from anxiety and stress, promote hair growth stimulation, resolve sleep issues, strengthens nervous and circulatory systems and aid in balancing hormone levels by supporting your brain functionalities.
The particular type of oil to use for the head massage can be customized by your ayurvedic practitioner based on your prakriti (constitution) and vikriti (condition) For examples, for Vata (Space and Air) disorders (Pregnancy and post-partum are considered Vata imbalances), sesame oil is considered to be one of the best choices with herbs like bala, shatavari, ashwagandha whereas for Pitta (Fire and Water) disorders, cooling oils like coconut oil with herbs like Brahmi, are beneficial.
To keep your self-head massage routine simple, I would suggest opting for a tridosha oil infused with a base of coconut/sesame oil and herbs like bhringraj, kumari, brahmi. The massage should always be done with warm oil. To maximize the benefits of the head massage begin with applying the oil in crown region of the scalp and spreading oil across the central part of the scalp with gentle to and back motion. The start working the oil from the sides of your scalp to the top by massing in both circular and oscillatory motions. Lastly work your way from the back of your head to the center of the scalp. For additional relaxations, squeeze temples gently using the heel pads of your hands while you give wide and circular strokes gently and rub the depression points behind your ears slowly with your finger pads by applying slight pressure. Leave the oil on for a minimum of an hour, preferably overnight.