Ayurvedic Skincare

Shiro Abhyanga and You: Why You Must Incorporate Ayurvedic Scalp Massage Into Your Routine 

Shiro Abhyanga and You: Why You Must Incorporate Ayurvedic Scalp Massage Into Your Routine 

If you read the title and are thinking…what does a scalp massage have to do with health?! When it comes to Ayurvedic wellness, the answer is a lot! 

It might come as a surprise, but the skin on your scalp is not too dissimilar to the skin on your face! The key differences are that the skin on your scalp is thicker, has more oil-producing glands, and is home to hundreds of thousands of hair follicles. It needs (and deserves) to be loved and cared for, just like the rest of you!

How? Shiro Abhyanga is a ancient therapeutic treatment in Ayurvedic that is not only deeply relaxing and rejuvenating, but enhances blood circulation to the brain, improving memory, decreasing stress, and promoting improved sleep. By using specific oils that are chosen based on your dosha, Shiro Abhyanga helps in balancing your body's energy, reducing headaches, and even promoting hair health. It's a holistic approach to wellness that nurtures both mind and body. 

It's time to stop neglecting scalp health! In this article, we share all about Shiro Abhyanga, a tried and true Ayurvedic massage that will make you - and your scalp - feel great! 

Hello, Relaxation! Shiro Abhyanga and Being An Inverted Tree

Ayurvedic head massage, Shiro Abhyanga, is a long-established therapeutic treatment that promotes holistic health and mind-body connection. The idea is that by using a variety of pressure techniques, and massage techniques, and pairing it with the right ayurvedic oil, the massage will increase circulation to the head, draining all unwanted toxins. 

Ayurveda principles teach us that the human body is similar to an inverted tree, which means the root of our bodies is our heads. So, similar to the roots of trees being the control center of the rest of the tree, our head is our control center. The stronger, and healthier the roots, the stronger the tree!  It all starts with the scalp. 

Inverted tree with healthy roots

Ayurvedic teachings explain that everyone has 107 vital points, or energy points called Marmas, located all around our bodies, with an impressive 31 pressure points located in our head region.

Marmas are viewed as crucial life centers serving as pivotal points within your body. At these vital energy points, the energy referred to as prana undergoes transformation, regulation, and storage for the rest of your entire system to use.

Young indian woman giving herself a relaxing, ayurvedic scalp massage focusing on her marma points

So, massaging said Marmas and specialized Ayurvedic massage oil can deeply heal and soothe the entire nervous system while letting go of mental fog, headaches, and eye strain, increasing REM sleep, decreasing anxiety, relieve stress, and feel more centered.

Infographic highlighting the 5 marma points for a head massage

Key Ayurvedic Head Massage Benefits

Here are some of the inspiring ayurvedic head massage benefits you can get out of a scalp massage:

  • Better vision, and less eye strain.

  • Promotes deeper, REM sleep and reduces fatigue.

  • Improves sensory functions and muscle relaxation.

  • Supports neurological and immune system health.

  • Stimulates blood circulation and lymphatic drainage.

  • Calms the body, enhancing mental calmness and decreasing stress.

  • Aids in alleviating various conditions like headaches, tinnitus, and sinusitis.

  • Promotes hair health, supporting glossier shinier shocks while preventing hair loss and dandruff.

  • Balances the body, aiding in the prevention of inflammatory and degenerative diseases.

If you’re looking for a sign to try a scalp massage… let this be your sign! 

female receiving a Shiro Abhyanga massage by a Ayurvedic practitioner

How Can I Tell If My Scalp Is Healthy? 

Go grab a mirror and check out your scalp using a comb, or just use your fingers!  

The signs of a nice, healthy scalp are: 

  • Little to no excessive oil and buildup

  • It's not itchy 

  • There is no pain or irritation 

  • No redness or inflammation

  • No excess dandruff and/or flakes

  • Zero pimples, sores, or scabs

  • You have healthy hair growth with no excessive shedding or hair loss

If you notice symptoms of a scalp that needs some TLC, don't panic! You’re in the right place to start your scalp health journey.

gorgeous brunette woman running her hands through her luscious locks after a ayurvedic head massage

What Causes An Unhealthy Scalp? 

There is not one exact thing we can point to that causes an unhealthy scalp. Rather, there are daily elements that can negatively affect scalp health, ranging from non-nutritive eating habits, exposure to pollutants and harsh weather conditions, and even elevated stress levels.  

One large contributor is the accumulation of hair and scalp products, especially when they contain harsh, unnatural ingredients like parabens, alcohol, and sulfates that can strip the scalp and hair of essential moisture.

Excessive use of strong cleansers and too frequent washing can cause the scalp to become dry, irritated, and flaky. Oppositely, not washing your hair enough can cause the buildup of products, dirt, and oils, leading to blocked hair follicles, and inflammation.

black and white photo of woman with thick healthy hair after a Ayurvedic Scalp massage

How To Do The Perfect Shiro Abhyanga 

It all starts with massage technique! 

You can, of course, visit a professional therapist who is well-rehearsed in the Shiro Abhyanga and they will utilize a professional combination of their hands, fingers, oils, and special Ayurvedic tools to gently massage the marma points. 

However, to benefit from the scalp massage, you do not need to visit a professional as you can do it right at home as a self massage! 

This treatment begins with the gentle, consistent flow of herbal massage oil onto your scalp, forehead, and neck regions, creating a soothing and relaxing experience. 

Following this, the Abhyanga technique is applied, which consists of a light-pressure massage in these areas, allowing the oil to penetrate effectively. 

Self Massage techniques for a Shiro Abhyanga 

  • Step 1: Set aside “me” time. Find a relaxing place in your home, and remove all distractions. Allow this to be a chance for self-care. Once in your zen zone, maintain silence for optimal results. Turn off your cell phone, and turn off music or podcasts. Be sure to turn on the heat in whatever room you are doing your scalp massage, as the room should be warm and soothing. 

  • Step 2: Warm the oil you are using to a warm and comfortable temperature. The goal is to make the oil warm, but not boiling or too hot, as overheating can deplete the oil of its nutrients. 

  • Step 3: Sitting upright, pour the oil into your hands. You may require 2-5 tablespoons, depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Then, comb your fingers through your hair. Drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon of oil onto the crown of the head and massage the oil onto either side of the head.

    Young brunette woman recieving a soothing Shiro Abhyanga from a Ayurvedic practioner with warming oil
  • Step 4: Touch your chin to your chest, head forward, and pour additional oil along the back of your head down to where the hairline ends. Seperate your hair using clips or elastics to ensure there is uniform application all over the head. Slowly work the oil over the back of the head and massage the oil into your neck and shoulders. With firm pressure, use circular massage strokes across your entire scalp, using the tips of the fingers, starting in the front and working your way back.  Slow down on the Marma points, applying gentle yet firm pressure. 

  • Step 5:  After focusing on the entire head, if you wish, you can then apply ayurvedic oil along the length of your hair, starting at the hair roots to the tips, deeply conditioning your hair for lustrous shine. 

  • Step 6: Allow the aromatic oils to rest for a minimum of twenty minutes. To wash it out, shampoo your hair - which you may need to repeat to remove all the oil. If you wish, you can sleep with the oil in your hair (but don't forget to use a pillow protector!)

Using The Right Oil Is Key!

The oil used in your massage is there to nourish the hair, rejuvenate dry or damaged strands, and increase shine and luster. It can also help prevent hair loss and premature graying, protecting hair against common, harmful environmental factors like prolonged sun exposure and harsh weather conditions. A regular scalp massage can increase the supply of nutrients received by the hair follicles to promote healthier growth for long, luscious locks.

The selection of oil for Shiro Abhyanga should be tailored to one's unique Dosha constitution, addressing and fixing any imbalances or ailments.

For Vata Dosha, opt for sesame oil or almond oils, as they offer deep hydration and nourishment, fixing dryness and hair frizziness. Sesame oils are warm and enriching, beneficial for Vata's dry, airy, and cold characteristics.

For Pitta Doshas, either coconut oil or Brahmi oils are best. These oils are best known for strengthening the hair while preventing premature graying and calming Pitta's fiery, sharp, and light nature with their cooling and calming effects.

For Kapha Doshas, lighter oils like mustard or sunflower are recommended. These oils invigorate and energize, offering a counterbalance to Kapha's dense, slow, and cool traits.

Don't know your dosha? Take our dosha quiz! 

Shankara’s very own  Hair and Scalp Oil is bursting with purifying and hair-strengthening Amla, soothing Bhringraj, and cooling Sandalwood with a soft lavender and natural scent that is calming and relaxing. 

Shankara Hair and Scalp Oil

Post-Treatment Practices 

Following your soothing scalp massage, be sure to focus on the following:

  • Rest and enjoy the deep relaxation post-massage, trying to embrace the cleansed mind by avoiding stressful thoughts. 

  • Avoid crowded places and opt for a serene environment instead for the rest of the day.

  • Eat a light and nutritious snack or meal.

  • Keep the ayurvedic oil in your hair for several hours, even overnight. If you sleep with the ayurvedic oils, use a cap or pillow protector.

Black woman lying down after a ayurvedic scalp massage surrounded by candles and dim light.

Will Shiro Abhyanga Really Help My Hair Grow?

While research is still limited, the research indicates that a head massage can enhance hair thickness by stretching follicle cells and promoting the growth of thicker strands. It's believed that the massage helps expand blood vessels under the scalp, fostering hair growth. Through more blood flow in the area, it delivers additional nutrients and oxygen, right to the hair follicles, and supports hair health. 

Stress is awful and it can do a range of damage to the body, including hair loss. By involving a scalp massage in your wellness routine, your stress levels will stabilize, helping to balance your doshas and contribute, long term, to healthy hair growth.

Female with long, strawberry blonde hair healthy after a shiro abhyanga

In line with Ayurvedic principles, it’s all about a holistic approach! Stress reduction and scalp massages are certainly helpful, but consider a holistic approach that focuses on both internal and external factors to grow hair, including,  

  • Ensure your diet is rich in vitamins and minerals that support hair growth, such as vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Munch a lot of leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, and lean meats! 

  • Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Water helps in transporting nutrients to the hair follicles. Hydrated = healthy! 

  • Avoid hair products that are laden with harsh chemicals, as sulfates and parabens can strip hair of its natural oils and weaken strands.

  • Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health, including hair health.

  • Minimize the use of heat styling tools and chemical treatments. 

  • Some essential oils, including rosemary, lavender, and peppermint, are believed to stimulate hair growth. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil and do a patch test to avoid any allergic reactions.

Don't forget that hair growth won't happen overnight, and the results of these holistic approaches can take time. Consistency is key! 

If you're experiencing significant hair loss or other concerns, it's best to consult a healthcare professional to identify any underlying issues.

Balancing fruit for holistic well being

Who Should Avoid Shiro Abhyanga?

Ayurveda advises against Shiro Abhyanga when: 

  • Pregnant

  • While menstruating

  • Consult your healthcare provider if you have any ongoing health issues.

  • If you have the flu, chills, or a high fever.

  • Do not undergo Shiro Abhyanga if you have any broken or infected skin on your head or scalp.

These guidelines exist so that this massage is only done so it is beneficial, aligning with Ayurveda's principle of promoting harmony and balance within the body.


An Ayurvedic head massage is an incredibly relaxing act of self-care - with many added benefits! These massages can do wonders for relieving various scalp-related ailments and supporting holistic wellness and are super accessible to get started. Trust the wisdom of Ayurvedic principles and try a Shiro Abhyanga today!

Comment below on how your first one goes!

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Marissa Del Mistro
Marissa Del Mistro writer Marissa Del Mistro is a writer and editor with diverse interests. When she's not pursuing writing, she enjoys cooking, listening to podcasts, and traveling. She lives in the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, where she loves to explore her gorgeous surroundings.