Indian Head Massage

Indian head massageIndian head massage has been used for many years as a way to relieve stress and nurture family members. It is easy to learn and do. It is a truly versatile massage as it requires no oils or the need to undress and so can be done anywhere and anytime.

Scalp massage has been used in India for more than a 1000 years. Women have used it as a means of strengthening and improving the shine of their hair and as a weekly ritual on their children. Oils are usually used both to soothe the spirit and nurture the skin and hair. Men go to their local barber for a morning shave and a head massage to stimulate and refresh them. Head massage is a tradition that has been handed down through the generations with each family having their own particular technique.

In the 1970’s Narendra Mehta, who has been visually impaired since early childhood, travelled to England to study physiotherapy and later massage therapy. In those days most massages started at the shoulders and he missed the soothing sessions administered by the local barber and relatives back home. So he decided to return to India to research head massage wherever it was practised and formulate his own techniques. On his return to England he combined the scalp massage with massage to the face, neck, upper back and arms. In addition to massage he added chakra balancing to give a complete treatment he called champissage meaning head massage in English. In 1981 he massaged people at the London Mind, Body and Spirit exhibition and started teaching his method.

Since those early days Indian head massage has spread to America, Canada and Australia among other countries due to its versatility and ease of use. It can be done anytime, anywhere. All that’s needed is a chair. It can be done with or without oils and there is no need to undress if oils are not used.

It can be used in nursing homes, hospitals, offices, spas, hairdressing and beauty salons. It is the ideal treatment for office workers and those who find it difficult to lie down for long periods. Although it is a safe massage for all ages and pregnant women there are some contraindications and conditions that may prevent a full treatment from being done (see below).

Clients sit comfortably in a chair during the massage allowing the therapist to have full access to the head, face, shoulder, upper back, neck and upper arms. It is a very simple massage that is rewarding to give and receive. It uses both gentle and firm massage strokes to stimulate the nerves, loosen tight muscles, relax superficial tissues, and remove stress both emotionally and physically.

There are many benefits to receiving regular Indian head massage.

  • Relieves muscle tension providing relief from pain and stiffness in the muscles of the scalp, neck, upper back and shoulders.
  • Encourages good blood supply to the face, promoting healthy skin and tone to the facial muscles
  • Improves the quality of your hair and may delay premature greying due to the increased circulation
  • Helps relieve tension headaches, dullness and heaviness in the head, sinusitis, eyestrain, mental fatigue
  • Deeper calmer breathing leading to more relaxation reducing stress and anxiety levels inducing a sense of calmness, peace and tranquillity.
  • Enhances creative thinking and problem solving skills as well as clarity of thought
  • Relief from mental and emotional stress
  • Helps with disturbed sleep and insomnia
  • Works on the physical, mental, emotional and subtle levels calming the spirit.
  • Increased energy levels

Contraindications / Precautions

  • Recent head or neck injury or surgery – check with doctor first
  • Fever – risk of spreading infection as a result of increased circulation
  • Acute infectious disease – risk of spreading or catching it yourself
  • Bruising and recent haemorrhage – may make worse, wait until healed
  • Cold sores – don’t work on or near the area
  • Skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis in area to be worked on should be avoided
  • Recent operations – check with doctor first
  • Epilepsy – check with doctor first. Very slight risk of provoking an attack
  • Under the influence of drugs and alcohol – could make them feel more dizzy and nauseous
  • Very high or low blood pressure – may feel light headed and dizzy after /during massage
  • Osteoporosis – check with doctor first and use only the very gentlest of touch.

The massage
The therapist will begin by placing her hands on your shoulders or head and asking you to breathe in and out a few times. She will then begin working on your shoulders, arms and neck with a variety of massage techniques to relieve the buildup of tension and stress in those areas.

Next she uses a series of gentle and firm movements on your head and scalp designed to release any tension in the area that can lead to headaches. Often if you came with a headache it disappears or is very much reduced at this point. She then begins to work on your face soothing away any lingering stress and helping to tone the facial muscles.

Finally she will work with the upper 4 chakras bringing a sense of balance and calm back into your life. Often at this point you are so relaxed that it takes you a few minutes to come back to this world. Occasionally it can work the other way and you are raring to get up and go.

The massage usually takes from 30 to 45 minutes but the effects last much longer than that. It truly is a wonderful massage to both give and receive.

About the author: Carole Hodges is a professional aromatherapist and massage therapist who has trained in Australia and abroad. She has been teaching one-day Indian Head Massage courses for over 15 years and continues to update her knowledge. She can be contacted by email at carole@