So where did it all begin?
Almost all cultures have developed systems of therapeutic massage. From Ayurvedic Massage, Chinese Tui Na Massage, Thai Massage to Swedish Massage. The oldest records of massage are believed to be nearly 5,000 years old and were found in China and Egypt. Even then, massage was used to manipulate painful muscles and joints and to improve well-being. Indian Head Massage was originally given as a treatment from Mother to Daughter; and the tradition has been passed on in Indian families from one generation to the next for the last 1,000 years.
Why use massage?
One very common reason for people to seek help in the form of massage therapy is stress and anxiety. When we are stressed, our bodies release stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol to help us focus, give us strength and help us deal with the stressful situation. If these situations accumulate and become almost the norm this can leave us quite depleted and our immune systems low. We tend to hunch our shoulders and clench our jaws, causing muscle tension in neck and shoulders. This can then lead to tension headaches which have a negative effect on our concentration and ability to cope. Sleeping problems, overcompensation with alcohol and cigarettes, lack of exercise are all too common side effects when we are experiencing a stressful time.
And Indian Head Massage can help?
Indian Head Massage is a short treatment of shoulders, neck, scalp and face, all the areas affected most by the physical stress response. It can be done almost anywhere, as long as you have somewhere to sit, although personally I find the treatment most effective when the client is lying down.
According to a review in the British Medical Journal, good evidence from randomised trials has shown that massage reduces anxiety levels in the short term, but when applied regularly over a period of time this effect can be cumulative; leading to an overall reduction in anxiety. Anecdotally, this can reduce stress, improve sleep and alleviate headaches.
Why would I want to learn it?
If the above isn’t enough to convince you, here is another interesting piece of research: A study involving carers for very sick relatives (i.e. people under considerable emotional and physical stress), showed that after only six massage treatments their anxiety, depression and emotional fatigue scores reduced considerably. In this particular study it was interesting that one control group received Healing Touch treatment, rather than actual Massage Therapy, and even in that group anxiety and depression scores reduced. This suggests that even the simple act of human touch has a therapeutic effect.
"Touch is not optional for human development… from chronic pain to the process of healing, the genes, cells, and neural circuits involved in the sense of touch have been crucial to creating our unique human experience."
- David J. Linden, Touch
These and many other studies underpin what I have been seeing in my practice for the past 13 years. Clients experience an enhanced sense of well-being and relaxation as well as an improvement in their physical ailments and one is just as important as the other.
So perhaps you have someone in your life who suffers from stress and headaches, or perhaps you simply want to cultivate a closer relationship with a family member or loved one; either way Indian Head Massage could be a great tool to integrate into your life.
"Trade technology for touch (at least temporarily). When you really want to connect, hold your partner's hands, look your co-worker in the eyes, hug your child. Eye contact and physical touch increase connection."
- Deborah K. Heisz. Live Happy
When I started my massage training about 14 years ago, it was intended as a way of being able to work flexibly whilst having children and doing a degree in Herbal Medicine. Having always had an interest in natural health care, this was an obvious path to choose but I could have never imagined that it would become such a passion.
Alongside my studies and the slightly chaotic years of having 2 young children, my massage practice grew and developed and now takes up a large part of my professional life. 5 days a week I see people with aches and pains, stress, a need for some me-time or a wish for ‘general maintenance’ and every person receives a slightly different treatment, depending on their needs. Whatever brought them to me in the first place, the requirement for therapeutic touch, however firm or gentle, is what they all have in common.
The two hour workshop on the 12th is suitable for couples; two friends, mother and daughter (14yrs+), or anyone else who would like to get an introduction to Indian Head Massage. No prior experience required. Please note that this workshop is intended for personal use only and is not part of any professional qualification. £25pp
Rexilius et al, 2002, Therapeutic effects of massage and handling touch on caregivers of patients undergoing stem cell transplant
Vickers, BMJ 1999, Massage Therapies