Indian head massage (or champi) is part of the Ayurveda tradition from India and based on the practice of using oils to massage the head and care for the hair.
Because the roots of hair connect to nerves in the scalp, head massage can have many benefits. The massage and oils calm your nervous system as they nourish your hair. The oils used in India were often blended with essential oils or otherwise medicated to provide additional benefits.
This traditional Ayurveda massage of the head focuses on balancing the body's energy system by applying pressure to marma points located along the nadis (energy lines).
Marma points are junctions on the body where two or more types of tissue meet. Of the body's 107 marma points, 37 are located on the face and neck. In Ayurvedic marma therapy, the head is the most important area of the body, and massaging the head can affect the entire body
In the 1970s, Narendra Mehta developed a dry version of champi called Champissage™ that combined massage of the face and ears, chakra balancing using color and sound, and scalp massage.
Mehta studied head massage across all the Indian traditions. She concluded that including the face, neck, shoulders, and upper arms and adding chakra balancing greatly enhances the treatment, according to Indian Head Massage in Essence by two of Mehta's students. Mehta introduced Champissage in the United Kingdom in 1981, and its popularity quickly spread around the world.
You sit, fully clothed, in a comfortable chair, and the massage typically takes about 30 minutes. Some therapists massage the scalp and face before going onto to the shoulders and upper back. Others begin by deeply kneading the neck and shoulder muscles and then work with the scalp, squeezing, rubbing, and gently tapping. More information is available at the LCIC International Ayurvedic Centre.
Although Champissage is a dry massage, therapists may optionally apply oils at the end of the massage. Different oils have different properties and may be used for specific purposes. The oils traditionally used in Ayurveda include almond, coconut, mustard, and neem oils.
Other types of head massage include four traditional Ayurveda approaches:
Used on the scalp, face, neck, shoulders, and upper arms to stimulate or relax the body, Indian head massage helps relieve headaches, eye strain, and joint and muscle tension.