The Joys of Indian Head Massage

Hey everyone! I know it has been a while since my last post. However, I have been busy picking up a number of exciting projects, many of which will benefit the Cloudcroft community.

Chair massage events have been such a big hit here in the village that I have expanded my hours and locations. As the weather got cold, I moved inside to Burro Brew, the coffee shop in the mall by the Cloudcroft Hotel. I can be found there Wednesdays from 10:00 to 1:00, available for chair massage or to answer any questions about massage therapy while Michelle Ferris serves up Lattes and Macchiato.

I can also be found at Hank’s Barber Shop in the Pine Stump Mall on Thursdays, from 11:00 to 1:00. Denise Reynolds, the owner, has invited me to bring my chair in her shop to offer massages and let people know the benefits of massage therapy. I’m thrilled to see she has re-opened Hank’s after the 2010 Burro Street fire, and I’m equally excited to be steps away once again from Dave’s Café with Chuck Venable and his crew. Many thanks to Michelle, Denise, and Chuck for inviting me into their businesses and allowing me to do what I love.

It may seem strange to be offering chair massage in a barber shop, but in India, it is common place for customers to receive a scalp massage with their haircuts. This style of massage, called “Champi,” (pronounced “CHOM pee”) includes the neck and shoulders but focuses primarily on the scalp. It is an invigorating technique, intended to stimulate and refresh the individual. Incidentally, the word “shampoo” is derived from the Hindi word, “champo” meaning “to press” as in the pressing that happens during a massage.

Men often receive champi massages from their barbers, but the treatment can be found in many locations around India, including markets, the beach, and even on busy street corners.

Women also practice a form of Champi, but the techniques are slightly different. The original practitioners of head massage, women included the scalp massage as part of a family beauty routine, massaging one another’s heads and using oils to keep their hair shiny, lustrous, and strong. Different oils are used depending on the season and may include coconut, sesame, almond, olive, mustard oil, buttermilk, or henna. Just like the men, women pass the techniques from one generation to the next.

Indian Head Massage has been around nearly 4000 years and descriptions can be found in some of the earliest Ayurvedic texts. Even today, massage in many forms is an integral part of Indian family life as children around the age of 6 are taught to share massages with other family members.

Whether it is men or women, Indian or American, the benefits of head massage are numerous and great. First of all, head massage can increase circulation of blood and lymph through the scalp, thus increasing the uptake of oxygen and nutrients by the tissues. Champi practitioners even claim that the increased circulation can promote hair growth. Such massage can relax the muscles of the head, face, neck, and shoulders, allowing better joint mobility and relieving issues like headaches, eye-strain, jaw ache, sinus congestion and insomnia. There are just as many benefits to a person’s mental health as well as his or her physical well-being. Head massage can also help release anxiety, increase alertness and concentration, and promote calmness and tranquility. In addition to these benefits, scalp massage can have positive effects, not only on the head, but the entire body!

If you would like to experience a style of Indian Head Massage, or if you just need a quick “spot-check” massage, please stop by one of my Burro Street locations or contact me at the info listed below and I would be happy to make an appointment with you. If you are reading this post from somewhere else in the country, I can also help you find a practitioner in your area. In the meantime, stay warm and I look forward to seeing you at the coffee shop or the barber shop.


Robin Faux, LMT (NM lic. 5600) has been practicing and studying massage therapy for more than 10 years. She has a degree in Integrative Medical Massage Therapy and has numerous certifications in techniques designed to relieve pain for her clients. When not massaging, Robin teaches anatomy and physiology to massage therapy students at MTTI in Las Cruces. If you want to get in touch with her, please call 719-650-9349 or email her at