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By Narenda Metha
That’s Using Your Head. Do-it-yourself Ayurvedic head massage stops stress, and stimulates healing.
Do you often come home from work feeling tired and worn out? You have the power to melt away pain and relieve stress in your own fingertips by giving yourself an Indian head massage.
Massage has always played an important part in Indian life, mentioned in the earliest Ayurvedic texts that date back nearly 4,000 years. When used in conjunction with herbs, spices and aromatic oils, massage can encourage the body’s natural healing abilities.
Indian head massage supports the nervous system by alleviating stress; stimulates the lymphatic system, encouraging the elimination of toxins; helps break down muscle knots; relieves chronic neck and shoulder stiffness; increases oxygen uptake in tissues; and improves circulation. Head massage can also be used to stimulate hair growth, improve concentration and relieve migraine pain.
Begin by choosing an oil. Sesame, mustard, almond, coconut and olive oils are most commonly used. Massage the oil into your head, starting from the sides and working towards the top. Work your way toward the front and back of the head. Gently massage the whole head with your thumbs and fingers. Grasp fistfuls of hair at the roots and tug from side to side, keeping your knuckles very close to the scalp. Squeeze at the temples with the heels of the hands and make slow, wide, circular movements. Look down slightly and massage the back of the neck by squeezing and rolling the muscles.
Begin at the top of the neck and work your way down, first with one hand and then with the other hand. Place the thumb of your left hand under the left occipital area (base of the head) and the thumb of your right hand under the right occipital area and relax the tight muscles by using friction or a rubbing movement. Place your left hand on your right shoulder near your neck. Using medium pressure, gently squeeze the shoulder muscle that starts at the base of your neck. Work your way outwards along your shoulder to your arm and then down as far as your elbow. When you reach your elbow, go back to the base of your neck and do this twice more. Concentrate on squeezing the muscle tissue.
Now place the flattened palm of your left hand beside the base of your neck on the right-hand side. Rub along the top of your right shoulder and continue down your right arm where you squeezed the muscles before. When you reach your elbow, go back to the base of the neck and repeat the action twice. Change arms and work the other side. Finally, rub lightly with your hands all over the head; extend this movement to cover your face. You can use these movements without oil. If possible, allow a few minutes afterwards to relax.
Adapted from Indian Head Massage: Discover the Power of Touch by Narenda Metha (Thorsons, 1999).
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