What's it all about: Shiro Abhyanga

You may have noticed this funny looking word on my massage menu: Shiro Abhyanga. What a mouthful! Perhaps you’ve wondered what it means or why I call Indian head massage by that name. It’s actually two Sanskrit words Shiro = Head and Abhyanga = Massage. In this blog I’m going to tell you all about why Indian Head Massage is so wonderful!

Where did it come from?

As the name suggests, this type of massage has its roots in India where massage is seen as just a small part of one whole health and well-being system called Ayurveda. Ayurveda means life knowledge and the practices of Ayurveda are designed to help you live a long and healthy life.

How is Ayurveda involved in Indian Head Massage?

In Ayurveda, it is believed that we are made up of the five elements: earth, air, fire, water and ether. Whilst we all have some of each element within us, a subtle balance exists and each person will have more dominant elements. The special mixture of elements within you is your constitution. Constitutions can be categorised into 3 life giving Doshas called Vata, Kapha and Pitta, depending on which elements are most dominant within you. In health, your unique balance of elements is in equilibrium. However, the elements can be out of balance due to diet, lifestyle, stress and many other daily life factors. Shiroabhyanga seeks to re-balance your elements in order to provide good health.

Tell me more about the Doshas!

People of the same constitution usually carry common physical and personality traits.

Vata = Air & Ether Slim, tall or very petite people who are always on the go. Lots of air and ether makes Vata people very energetic, always on the move. They are creative, flexible people who embrace change and are always looking for the next thing. Vata dominant people tend to always be active, love to try new things and find it difficult to stay still for long periods as they’re always eager to explore the next thing! They can have a tendency towards dry skin and hair and feel the cold easily especially in their hands and feet.

Kapha = Earth & Water Kapha dominant people tend to be short and stocky or tall and broad with dark wavy hair and brown or green eyes. They are patient, kind and loyal people. They build strong, long-lasting friendships and relationships and are seen by their friends as the person they can rely on. Kapha people like routine and consistency and tend to hold to traditions. When out of balance, they can be prone to oily hair and skin, coughs and colds.

Pitta = Fire & Water Pitta dominant people tend to be of average height and build and may have red hair and freckles. They are very ambitious and driven, always striving to reach their goals. They may have a fiery temprement! Pitta people tend to be organised and good at planning and strategy. They are warm-hearted people. When out of balance, they have a tendency towards oily skin and heat related illnesses such as fever or inflammation.

So, what are the benefits of Shiro Abhyanga and how does it work?

Well, before the massage, a consultation will help you to determine your Dosha so that the massage can be tailored to you, whether you need some inspiration and rejuvination, or calming and relaxation. Special oils that are suited to your Dosha will be used during the massage. As well as soothing massage of the muscles, this therapist will stimulate and clear marma energy points in the head neck and face. In Ayurveda it is believed that this will to allow energy to flow smoothly, keeping your whole body in balance.

The massage includes, head and face, neck, shoulders and arms. It can help to ease tension in these areas, providing relief to those who suffer with tension headaches or migraines and helping to ease out tensions caused by long periods sitting at a desk or driving.

As well as being deeply relaxing, Shiro Abhyanga will increase circulation to the head and face, leaving skin glowing and hair moisturised and healthy. It is said to help stimulate hair growth too.

Would you like to book and Indian head massage for yourself or someone else? Have you experienced Indian head massage in India or in the UK? How was it different? E-mail me at or comment on my facebook page.

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