Saturday, May 21, 2011

Indian Head Massage

Indian women are legendary for their beautiful long hair.  One of the reasons, in addition to good genes, is the regular practice of Indian Head Massage.

This ancient technique has played an important part in Indian life for nearly 4,000 years. Today, everyone from children to grandparents use the technique to decrease stress, improve overall health and promote hair growth.Indian Head Massage originated as part of regular grooming routines.

Indian women used vegetable oils such as coconut, almond, olive and sesame to nourish the hair while promoting circulation through massage. They sat in rows and gently massaged the hair and scalp of the person in front of them. Today, many local barbers in India give their male clients head massages after hair cuts to promote hair growth and health.

Although there are many different personal techniques for Indian Head Massage, osteopath and massage therapist Narendra Mehta has formalized the therapy that he calls Champissage. Champi is the Indian word for “head massage” and is the origin of the English word shampoo. Mr. Mehta’s Champissage incorporates neck, shoulder and back massage along with head massage for a powerful therapy that he says promotes physical, mental and spiritual health.

I had the great pleasure of meeting with Mr. Mehta on a trip to New York. He travels the world promoting Champissage and teaches the technique at his home base, The London Centre of Indian Champissage.

Mr. Mehta said he developed Champissage in the 1970s while he was in London training to become a physiotherapist. In his native Bombay, India, Mr. Mehta was used to receiving regular head massages but could find no one in England who practiced it professionally.

“Unfortunately, in the West, many people worry about their hair’s health only when they start to lose it,” Mr. Mehta said. “Healthy hair should be promoted from childhood with the help of regular massage.”

He felt strongly that head massage was necessary for good health, so he researched the ancient art and created his technique. Mr. Mehta explained that Champissage works on the body’s three higher chakras located on the crown of the head, the forehead and the throat. Chakras are energy centers (7 in all) that are believed to regulate the flow of energy throughout the body. According to Mr. Mehta, working on the top three chakras can bring the entire body into balance. In addition to healthy hair growth, other benefits of Champissage include decreased stress, more restful sleep, more energy and mental clarity.

In his book, Indian Head Massage: Discover the power of touch, Mr. Mehta includes an entire chapter on Champissage and hair care. He says the technique is vital to hair health because it helps nourish the hair’s roots and helps spread the hair’s natural oils, making it silky and shiny.
“When the scalp is loose, blood is able to flow freely and feed the roots,” he said. “This increased blood circulation strengthens the hair root and promotes health and shine.”

Although Champissage can be practiced without oil, Mr. Mehta recommends using an Ayurvedic Hair Oil for extra conditioning.  Any vegetable oil will do, but Mr. Mehta’s favorite formula contains sandalwood, henna, brahmi, shikakai and amala herbs in a sesame oil base. According to Mr. Mehta, “sandalwood promotes hair growth, henna increases shine, amala prevents dandruff and brahmi promotes thickness.” In addition, sesame oil contains phosphorous and calcium that benefits the hair shaft.

Mr. Mehta says massage is most effective when you receive it from someone else. However, self-massage can be very beneficial, as well. Some self-massage techniques include:
  • Gently massaging the whole scalp in a circular motion with your thumbs and fingers
  • Gently grasping your hair at the roots and tugging upward
  • Squeezing the temples with your palms and making large circular movements
  • Squeezing up and down the back of the neck
  • Squeezing the shoulder muscles from the base of the neck outward
For more information on Champissage, visit Mr. Mehta’s Web site at IndianChampissage.com.