What is Shiro Abhyanga, and how does it benefit us?
The Sanskrit term Shiro Abhyanga translates to head massage (Shiro- head; Abhyanga-massage). Shiro Abhyanga involves the complete massage of the head, neck, and shoulders with ayurvedic oils to reduce stress. These are the regions that are affected by stress.
How does Shiro Abhyanga Works ?
Shiro Abhyanga is a combination of two Ayurvedic treatments, the Shirodhara and Abhyanga.
Shirodhara is done by pouring herbal massage oil onto the scalp, forehead, and head. Shirodhara is followed by Abhyanga, which is the gentle massage that helps the body parts take the effect of the oil formulations. The forehead, head, neck, and shoulders are the parts that are gently massaged.
Why Shiro Abhyanga
Ayurveda considers the human body as an inverted tree. The roots at the top and the branches pointing downwards. The head is the operational center of the entire body, consisting of the seat of consciousness, the brain.
And, to add to this there are around 107 Marma points in our body (Marmas are the vital points where the energy or Prana is stored, regulated, and converted for use by the mind and body). Among these, 12 are said to be vital centers (Padu Marmas). Many of the vital marmas are located in the head and neck region.
The important Marma points for a head massage are
- Adhipati: It is located 8 finger-widths above the eyebrows in the center of the skull.
- Simantaka: Located 12 finger-widths above the eyebrows on the skull where the hairs gather in a swirl.
- Krikatika: These are 2 points. They are located on either side of the first cervical vertebrae behind the head where the neck meets the skull (occipital – cervical joint).
- Vidhuram: Found behind the ear lobes. The depression behind both ears.
- Shankha: The depressions on both sides of the forehead between the end of the eyebrow and the temples.
Oils for Shiro Abhyanga
The oils used for Shiro Abhyanga range from a single herb oil to 20 herbed oil. This depends on the purpose of Abhyanga.
In Shiro Abhyanga, different base oils like coconut, sesame, or mustard are used. This depends on the body type (Prakriti) of the person.
For persons with Vata Prakriti (dry scalp), castor oil and sesame oil are used. People with Pitta Prakriti (sensitive scalp) can use Coconut oil and sandalwood oil as a base. And for Kapha (oily scalp), Mustard oil is the preferred base.
What can be treated by Shiro Abhyanga?
Shiro Abhyanga is mostly done to prevent psychosomatic disorders. Other disorders include
- Anidra – Insomnia
- Shiro Roga – Different types of headaches and diseases related to the head
- Pakshaghata – Hemiplegia or paralysis
- Pitta Roga – Inflammatory diseases
- Vata Roga – Degenerative diseases
- Shiro Kandu – Itching in the scalp
- Shiro Rukshata – Dryness of the scalp
The Benefits of practicing Shiro Abhyanga
- Improves vision, eye strain, and eye refraction errors
- Improves and rejuvenates central nervous system health
- Relieves pain, migraines, headaches, stress, and insomnia
- Prevention of premature graying, hair fall, dandruff, and stimulates hair growth
- Relaxes muscles and reduces stiffness
- Balances the pineal and pituitary glands, toning the lungs, heart, colon, brain, and stomach
- It Soothes the mind and rejuvenates the body
- Calms the Vata to prevent degenerative diseases
- Calms the Pitta to prevent inflammatory diseases
- Helpful in treating tinnitus, jaw aches, and sinusitis
- Relieves fatigue and cloudiness of thought
- Stimulates lymphatic drainage and aids sound sleep
- Increases blood and oxygen circulation in the brain
- Highly rejuvenates the senses of sight, sound, and smell
- Anti-aging and helps in relaxing facial and eye muscles