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Indian Head Massage/Champissage - too good to miss.

Updated on December 29, 2013

Indian Head Massage

History of Indian Head Massage

One of the oldest forms of medical care may well be massage. Dating back as far as 3000BC the ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese documented the benefits of massage. Body therapy or massage is a natural instinct for many cultures with benefits for the mind and body.

In Indian Head Massage (IHM) records speak of the sensuality of massage rather than the medical model. Hindu Tantra the Kundalini or life force begins at the bottom of the spine and is an integral part of cosmic forces of female and male energy. The area would be massage alongside yogic positions and breathing exercises.

Ayuverdic (Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to the Indian subcontinent and a form of alternative medicine. The oldest known ayurvedic texts are the Suśrutha Saṃhitā and the Charaka Saṃhitā.[2] These Classical Sanskrit texts are among the foundational and formally compiled works of ayurveda – Widipedia 2014) ) records name massage as an indispensable factor of healing which is used regularly in India today for promotion of health and well-being.

Ayuverdic doctors use massage as a complete therapy to treat various illness, using special massage techniques to treat particular illnesses. IHM is based on the Ayuverdic system of healing which has been practiced in India for more than 1000 years. It has become part of rituals such as weddings and births as well as commonly used in barbers. Massage is passed down from generation to generation on all family members.

Another name for IHM is Champissage – the Hindi term for the practice of massage and possibly where the name Shampoo comes from. Champissage involves massaging the shoulders, neck, head and face to manipulate energy channels to allow free movement of energy and to release negative energy. The belief is if energy is unable to flow freely then negative energy builds up leading to discomfort, stress and disease.

Nehrandra Mehta at work


Benefits and contradictions to Indian head massage

What are the benefits of IHM?

  • Relives stress
  • Relieves fatigue
  • Relieves insomnia
  • Relieves headaches and migraine
  • Relieves sinusitis
  • Relaxes the muscles
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Relieves joint and muscle stiffness
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Soothes and relaxes the nervous system
  • Stimulates the hair and scalp
  • Relaxes and tones facial muscles
  • Helps the blood and lymph circulation
  • Aids in the removal of toxins by stimulating the flow of oxygen

Contraindications for Indian Head Massage

  • High temperature or fever
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Severe bruising or any breaks in the area of the skin being massaged
  • Recent haemorrhage
  • Recent head, shoulder or neck surgery or injury ( check with health professional)
  • A history of thrombosis (DVT) or embolism
  • Circulatory disorder
  • Infectious diseases
  • Skin infections
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • First trimester of pregnancy


Family therapy

Family therapy
Family therapy | Source

How does it work?

How does it work?

The client may sit fully clothed in an upright chair and the therapist uses various movements over the shoulder, neck, scalp and face. Oil does not have to be used if not convenient for the client but is recommended. Adding essential oils is also an option if you use 100% Essential Oils and are aware of the strength to use. It is also important to be aware of the effect Essential Oils will have on the recipient. Certain oils can be dangerous and should not be used for certain conditions.

Oils used in Indian Head Massage

Coconut oil – is soothing and body cooling. It is thought to promote long lustrous hair and is very good for dry brittle hair and dry skin.

Sesame oil – is supposed to be the best for Indian Head massage and the most popular in Ayuverda. It is rich in linoleic acid, one of the enzymes important for the brain. It is said to reduce premature ageing and greying of the air.

Almond Oil – is easily to obtain in the west. It’s properties are good for dry and mature skin. It is believed to aid in memory disorders of the brain and nervous system

Mustard Oil – popular in north west India. It strengthens the nerves, stimulates circulaton, reduces pain and swelling and soothes sore muscles. It can also irritate the skin.

There are many other oils that may be used as base oils including evening primrose oil, avocado oil, jojoba, grapeseed and wheatgerm oil . Always check for allergies and undertake a small skin patch test first.

What to expect?

Setting the scene – a well ventilated room with appropriate temperature control . When the body relaxes the body temperature drops which may leave the recipient feeling cold.

Soft relaxing music – something that is easy to drift of to.

A pleasant aroma – Essential oils are great for making a room smell nice as well as providing therapeutic benefits.

The practitioner must always be in control of their thoughts and intention. It is important to clear one’s mind and focus solely on performing the Indian Head massage. Paying attention to your client’s needs – asking if the pressure is comfortable, if there are any strokes/ movements they are not comfortable with. The Indian head massage should be a very relaxing and enjoyable experience for the recipient.

As previously mentioned the massage starts with the shoulders, moving up to the neck, scalp and face. Pressure points (marma’s) are stimulated throughout the massage, but probably more noticeable when the face is massaged towards the end of the massage.

Once the massage has finished the therapist will undertake some relaxation moves slowly guiding their hands over the ears, cheeks, forehead and crown. An Indian head massaged is usually complete after the Chakra holds. Chakra’s are energy centres that run from the base of the spine out the top of the crown ( top of the head). There are 7 major chakras , each a circular wheel of light spinning in the energetic system ( magnetic field) and each is associated with certain body parts. In Indian head massage the Crown, brow and throat chakra are held. This means the therapist will hold one hand just above the crown of the head whilst holding the other hand just away from the throat, slowly moving up to the brow and then finishing with both hands just above the crown of the head. It is believed that when the chakras function properly a person experiences good mind, body and spirit.

Once the massage is complete the therapist will place her hands on the shoulders and then shake away any negative energy. The recipient should feel very calm and relaxed, with a general sense of well-being.


Indian Head massage is relatively easy for anyone to perform. If there is any health contraindication then speak to a health care professional before undertaking any massage. Any touch can be therapeutic and is important in our busy lives. If you allow a friend /partner to place their hands onto your scalp and very slowly pretend they are massaging shampoo into your scalp you will experience a small part of the benefits of Indian Head of massage.

Areas not to be massaged are along the spine (vertebrae) and the front of the neck/throat.


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