You don’t need to be a hairdresser or even have a wash basin handy to perform an Ayurvedic hair spa treatment on your client.
In fact, any day spa, beauty salon or medi-clinic can weave the ritual (inspired by ancient Indian healing practices) into their menu as part of a package or an upsell with a difference.
Indeed, Ayurveda-inspired aesthetics and wellness treatments are spawning a new avenue of potential for contemporary aesthetics, wellness and cosmetic medical practitioners.
The discipline is some 5,000 years old and India’s traditional form of healing. Like yoga before it, it is fast gaining popularity among Westerners.
Hair rituals (of all kinds) are of personal interest to me, because a few years ago, I suffered a break-up of sorts. Not with a man but, rather, my mane of thick, healthy hair that literally fell out with me.
While most older Australian women experience this usually issue later in life, I was in my early 20s!
I discovered all human hair is in a constant cycle of rest, renewal and growth and it is considered normal to lose 80-100 strands per day from “resting” follicles. But I was shedding handfuls, not strands.
From Traditional Chinese Medicine to scalp scrubs at the salon, I’ve tried all kinds of therapies and while they have certainly helped, I still pine the truly thick tresses of my teenage years and am always on the hunt for a holistic cure.
Needless to say, I was very excited to try the hair spa treatment on behalf of SPA+CLINIC magazine.
It is performed using OmVeda products and promises to strengthen and stimulate follicles. Not only therapeutic, it is renowned for being ultra relaxing and totally pampering.
The Ayurvedic Philosophy Of Hair
In Ayurvedic theory, hair is believed to be a byproduct of food as it transforms into bones.
“Unfortunately, hair loss has become more common in modern times,” says Yasmin Sadikot, Ayurveda practitioner and founder of OmVeda skincare.
“The major causes of hair loss are hormonal, nutritional deficiencies or complications relating to some diseases and medications. People may loose hair as they age and healthy hair depends on healthy bones.
“Our stressful lifestyles, increasing environmental pollution and unhealthy food habits are all factors that cause damage to our health and, as a result, are reflected in the quality of our hair.”
According to Yasmin, the health and quality of one’s hair depends on their “dosha”.
In the discipline, “dosha” refers to the three forces (Pitta, Vata, Kapha) that are believed to govern all our biological processes.
Similar to other eastern healing philosophies, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, the elements play a pivotal role.
Both humans and the universe alike are believed to have the elements (Air, Ether, Fire, Earth and Water) circulating through them in various capacities.
A person’s dosha can be classified according to the specific combination of elements that are believed to course through everyone.
One, or a combination of one or two dosha’s dominate a person’s constitution and determine their physical, mental and emotional characteristics.
Knowing which dosha is most forceful in a person’s being can help us understand the root cause of health issues such as hair loss.
It is an interesting approach as it takes into account the specific nuances of the person (according to their dosha) and as a result healing remedies, and aesthetic practices are truly tailored to the individual.
- The Vata dosha is ruled by Air and Ether and is linked to the seasons of Spring and Autumn.
They usually have a small frame and dislike the cold.
When unbalanced they are prone to poor circulation and dry skin.
They can achieve vitality through warmth and nourishment.
- The Pitta dosha is ruled by Fire and Water and is linked to Summer.
They tend to be strong with a sharp memory but are aggravated by heat.
They have oily skin and scalp, and when unbalanced fall victim to pigmentation and hair-loss.
They can achieve vitality when “cooled”.
- The Kapha dosha is ruled by Earth and Water and is linked to Winter.
They are calm and relaxed, with smooth, cool skin.
When unbalanced, they are prone to acne and weight gain.
They can achieve vitality when stimulated with certain herbs.
Hair Loss And The Doshas
Knowing one’s dosha is critical in determining the root cause of hair loss in an individual.
Understanding the specific causes of imbalance in each one is the first step to healing. Once these are understood, steps can be taken toward remedying the root cause.
- Anyone with an imbalanced Vata dosha is prone to hair loss.
- This is because the Vata dosha is responsible for movement and transportation of food nutrients through the empty channels and spaces of the body.
- Excessive or imbalanced Vata dosha can result in an obstruction in the flow of the food nutrients that nourish hair cells, leading to a dry scalp, dry hair, split ends, and finally thinning hair or hair loss.
- Nurtuing hair oils containing herbs stress-reducing herbs (such as Valerian) and a diet filled with warming foods such as sweet potato.
- People with an unbalanced Pitta constitution can be particularly prone to hormonal hair fall
- Hot climate, an excessive intake of spicy, salty and sour food, as well as acidic foods can cause the unbalance.
- A non-oily hair tonic with cooling ingredients (such as mint) that calm the scalp and therefore promote growth, as well as a diet filled with cooling foods like asparagus.
- Pitta balancing herbs such as Shatavarti and bitter vegetables can also help.
- Avoid hot showers, especially if washing hair.
- Those with a Kapha dosha do not usually have a major problem with hair loss as they tend to be calm and generally have strong bones.
The Ayurvedic Hair Spa Experience
Neither I, or any specialist, have ever been able to pinpoint the root cause of my excessive malting, which has been rather frustrating, but learning the basic principles of Ayurveda and has given me hope.
In fact, when I saw Yasmin for my hair spa treatment at the OmVeda headquarters, she was able to tell that my dosha was a mix of Pitta and Vatta, simply by looking at me.
Both of my dominant doshas, were apparently out of balance.
According to Ayurveda I need to nourish my Vatta tendency toward dryness and temper my excess Pitta heat. But how?
Ayurveda approaches all aesthetics treatments holistically and part of the approach includes the hair spa ritual that fuses a head massage with herbal hair products.
There are different types of hair oils within the OmVeda range that a therapist can prescribe according to the specific imbalance in their patient.
Treatment began with the application of Neelini hair oil on my scalp, which can be used for both Pitta and Vata imbalances. The oil is massaged into my scalp using a special technique – tugging bunches of hair to strengthen it combined with movements that aim to stimulate the follicles.
“The strength of scalp massage varies,” says Yasmin. “For example Vata slow with light pressure ~ Pitta medium pressure and strength and a vigorous massage is best for Kapha doshas, as they require stimulation.”
Those without any hair loss issues can enjoy this ritual too – it is seriously luxurious. Spas such as Anahata in Mosman incorporate it into a facial and also offer the ritual as a stand alone treatment.
The oil needs time to penetrate the shaft of hair after it is massaged into the scalp, so should be left on overnight.
Thus, home maintenance plays a critical role in an Ayurvedic hair spa.
A hair mask needs to be applied next morning and left on for ten minutes – this comes in powder form and is activated with plain yoghurt. It is washed off in the shower with a special shampoo.
After letting my locks dry naturally after I completed my treatment the next morning, I could feel the magic and see it too. My mane actually gleamed and my scalp felt cleansed.
Maintaining this incredible result takes diligence so clients are encouraged to invest in the products and do their own hair spa every week at home.
An Holistic Approach
Lifestyle changes might be needed in the name of optimum hair health. Yasmin shares her tips.
- For severe scalp issues, taking herbs internally as prescribed by an Ayurvedic doctor or naturopath is highly recommended.
- A diet high in protein and rich in iron is recommended for hair loss, regardless of which Dosha is causing the problem – intake of fresh raw vegetables, including green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits and salads is very important.
- Hair conditioner should be kept to a minimum.
Yasmin Sadikot is the Founder of OmVeda International Pty Ltd and a pioneer in traditional Ayurvedic Beauty treatments and home care products in Australia.
A qualified homeopath, Yasmin has studied Ayurvedic herbology and treatments over the last 25 years, working with world-leading Ayurvedic cosmeticians and doctors.
She relishes in sharing her wisdom with therapists interested and runs courses teaching her techniques.