Between struggling with the age-old question of “Should I get bangs?” to the ever-present temptations of impromptu dye-jobs, and spur-of-the-moment striking haircuts, our hair dares through a lot over the years.
But if you are one to have heard one of these sentences, ever:
“Wow, you’re so brave for getting that haircut” or “I could never color my hair like that, you’re so brave!”
Then you may associate with what I am about to say:
As someone who has had many “brave” hair adventures, let me tell you this – experimenting and exploring with your hair is nothing to be ‘Brave’ about, but rather, FREEING! Ask me and I'll say that we need to stop calling people ‘brave’ when they make conscious decisions about the way they want to look!
But why is unveiling a new hairstyle considered ‘brave’?
Because being brave involves doing a task that you’re afraid to do – or, when it comes to hair - something that might have been an accidental mistake, unlike a thought-through, carefully and consciously made choice.
And while most women who grow up with limited exposure to products and biased media representation are conditioned to believe that only a certain hair type, or length or color, would be the ultimate standard of beauty, we need to open our eyes to the fact that regardless of color or length or style, all hair is beautiful hair.
Now, because health and wellness prod each of us differently, choosing healthy hair and taking care of my hair regardless of its pattern, color or length came about to be my idea of self-love!
But what does Ayurveda say about self-love?
If there is any science that understands your unique body and mind, one that helps you achieve your true self, all naturally – that is Ayurveda!
Through its deeper understanding of the human-make and its connection with the elements of nature, Ayurveda provides us with a deep-seated understanding of who we truly are – through Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Doshas are like our fingerprints – they are unique to us. No two people in the world would have the same fingerprints.
Similarly, each person is born with a unique ratio of all the 3 Doshas, which manifest in their bodily, mental, psychological and physiological functions.
Discerning our unique make – our natural constitution or ‘Prakriti’, comprehending that we are made in a unique fashion to fulfill life’s purpose and making lifestyle choices that support our natural constitution defines one’s Ayurvedic journey towards self-acceptance and eventually, Self-Love!
My hair, for me, is a pot-pourri of my cultural representation, my individuality, freedom and my being. Be it long or short, black, brown, red or pink, curly or straight, letting your hair go free and ensuring its health is the most empowering thing one can do.
And here’s how I ensured I gave my hair the much-needed attention and care that it deserved!
On days and weeks when I’m stressed out and anxious, I've noticed my hair falling out quite regularly. Finding them lurking around in the corner of my bedroom or in the insides of my jacket is a painful sight. In fact, excessive stress also leads to premature graying, dry and lifeless-looking hair.
Ayurveda’s ancient vault contains various magic herbs that are known to help manage stress and keep it under check.
One simple and easy way is to drink herbal tea enriched with any one of these Ayurvedic herbs: Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) or Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). These are proven Ayurvedic herbs that have made a name for themselves for their natural ability to manage stress.
Another easy and doubly efficient way would be to practice yoga.
They say practicing this pose each day in the morning helps with stress, depression and insomnia. Because the head has to be kept down, the blood flow to the head is increased which stimulates better circulation to the scalp.
And a better circulation to the scalp = strengthened hair follicles!
This is the most common pose any yogi practices to feel at peace with the mind and their surroundings, thereby releasing stress and tension that encompass a modern lifestyle.
And do you know what happens when your body is released of all that stress? The circulation to your scalp increases, thereby, improving the health of your tresses!
One of Ayurveda’s effective ways to keep your strands healthy is the technique of ‘combing’.
While we know that combing helps in detangling of hair, how does that keep your hair healthy? Is that what you’re wondering?
While combing, it not just detangles your hair but also facilitates blood circulation to your scalp. It delivers oxygen and essential nutrients to the hair. And not just that, it also helps spread your scalp’s natural oils evenly over your hair strands.
According to Ayurveda, one should comb their hair once or twice a day gently. However, avoid engaging in vigorous combing as it can damage your hair by stretching it, leading to hair breakage and split ends. And of course, never comb your hair while it's wet.
Pro tip: Use a neem wood comb for better results, and to keep dandruff at bay!
Wash your comb regularly to avoid dirt accumulation and do not share your comb with others.
The solution to all your problems, quite literally, lies in what goes on your plate, each day.
Ayurvedic experts say a balanced assortment of all nutrients helps your hair stay on your head for a longer time! It also helps prevent premature graying and weakening.
Now, what are those little secrets that you can include in your daily diet? Here’s a list:
White sesame seeds, coconut, dates, raisins, green vegetables, yogurt, sprouts, and nutritious fats such as avocado and ‘ghee’ (clarified butter).
Barring foods, Ayurveda has also unearthed some rare spices and herbs that are known to facilitate digestion (agni-enhancing) and detoxify bodily tissues. Some of these include: turmeric, coriander, cumin, black pepper, Indian gooseberry or amla, asafetida and seasonal and citrus foods.
A combination of two Sanskrit words, Shiro meaning ‘Head’ and Abhyanga meaning ‘Massage’, the ancient Ayurvedic technique of Shiroabhyanga is defined as a complete massage and relaxation of the upper body involving the head, neck and shoulder regions.
It comprises of two effective processes – Shirodhara and Abhyanga. Shirodhara is the practice of gently pouring Ayurvedic herb-infused massage oil on to your head, and Abhyanga is the process of gently stimulating important energy points on your scalp known as ‘marmas’ using your fingertips and covering your scalp and hair with the oil.
Of all the head massages prescribed in ancient Ayurvedic texts, Shiroabhyanga is the easiest to do and is recommended to be done daily. Why? Because a regular thorough massage helps keep your scalp healthy, makes your strands stronger and helps keep them on your head!
Oils form an important part of an Ayurvedic Abhyanga process. When it comes to Shiroabhyanga, it involves the use of dosha-specific, herb-rich head massage oils to increase balance and health. These massage oils are pre-mixed with effective, natural, plant-based herbs targeting various specific needs.
Here’s how you can engage in a Shiroabhyanga:
Choose an Ayurvedic Oil that suits your hair type, with targeted hair-herbs, minerals and nutrients. Warm the oil by way of double-boiler method, wherein you place a bowl of the Ayurvedic oil in another bowl of warm water. The warmth makes the oil easier to absorb and enhances the massage experience.
Take some oil in your palm and follow these main head marma massage points:
Don’t know where your Adhipati Marma is? From your eyebrows, measure about 8 fingers width – feel that soft spot in the center of your skull? That is your Adhipati Marma.
Spread the oil across this point with gentle to and fro stroking.
Massaging it is beneficial to your hair as it promotes blood circulation throughout the scalp, which prevents and even reverses hair loss. It also promotes restful sleep so you can recharge properly.
Start working the oils from both the sides to the top of our head. Now, reverse the direction and repeat the process.
Massage these points using clockwise, circular directions, followed by oscillatory movements.
Later, work your way up to the center of the head, reverse the direction and repeat this massage technique for another 2 minutes.
In between your head massage process, what you also need to keep in mind is to gently pull the hair follicles at regular intervals. That helps increase the blood flow. Repeat the massage process for about 5-10 minutes and you’re all done!