Shirodhara is an ancient method of Ayurvedic healing that can help one find harmony within the mind, body and spirit for holistic wellbeing. It is one of the most essential therapies mentioned in Ayurveda that can not only rejuvenate and purify the body but also relieves stress, mental fatigue and treats several disorders.
The word ‘Shirodhara’ is derived from two Sanskrit words – ‘Shiro’ meaning the head and ‘Dhara’ meaning stream, pour or flow. Together, it means to pour or drip lukewarm herbal oils on the forehead in a continuous stream. During the therapy, the oil is poured from a certain height for a specific time to allow it to run through the scalp and into the hair. It stimulates a vital point on the head called the ‘Ajna Marma’ or the ‘Maha-Marma’, which brings stability in the mind and consciousness. According to Ayurveda, the Ajna Marma is the key point through which vital life force or ‘Prana’ circulates. It is also known as the centre of intuition and is called the ‘Third-Eye Chakra’ as well.
In addition, Shirodhara balances the doshas in the body and enhances the functioning of the nervous system while delivering a truly rewarding and divine experience.
Different Types of Shirodhara Massage
Shirodhara is called by different names as per the classical Ayurvedic texts of Charak Samhita and Susruta Samhita, such as Sirothara, Shiro Sheka, Shiro Parisheka, Shirashek, etc.
Mainly, they can be categorised into the following four types.
Kashayadhara: This Shirodhara therapy is performed with medicated herbal decoction called Kashayadhara. The type of oil and herbs used in this therapy are selected considering the health conditions of the individual and their purpose of seeking the therapy.
Thailadhara: Here, medicated oil is used in therapy.
Ksheerdhara: This Shirodhara therapy uses milk infused with herbs like vetiver roots, sandalwood or camphor. During the therapy, the milk is maintained at room temperature.
Takradhara: The Takradhara is a form of Shirodhara that uses buttermilk infused with herbs for the therapy.
Here’s a step by step breakdown of the Shirodhara therapy.
- Before the procedure starts, your head and scalp will be thoroughly massaged with plenty of oil for about five to ten minutes.
- You will be required to lie on your back on the massage table in the supine position.
- A small pillow or towel will be placed under your neck for support.
- The Shirodhara pot or equipment will be placed over you in such a way that the herbal oil from the pot falls right over your forehead.
- The pot will then be filled with the herbal oil you want to use and slowly poured over your forehead. The therapist ensures that the oil pours out of the Shirodhara pot in continuous motion.
- Now the pot is oscillated to pour the oil from one side of the forehead to the other.
- The extra oil that has dripped down from the forehead can be recollected, reheated to the optimum temperature, and can be put back in the pot to repeat the process.
- The procedure can last for somewhere around 20 to 30 minutes.
- During the process, you will also be given a light head massage.
- After the Shirodhara massage, the oil will be wiped off from your head following which you will be relaxing for about 30 to 60 minutes. This will allow the oil to seep deep into your scalp.
Some points to note while performing the Shirodhara therapy are –
Contraindications for Virechana
For the best results, Shirodhara should be performed either in the morning or in the evening.
In some health conditions, Shirodhara is combined with a full body massage or Abhyanga using medicated herbal oils.
After the procedure is complete, it is recommended to take a bath with warm water. To remove oil from the hair, medicated shampoos may be used.
Avoid taking caffeinated products for a few days after the therapy as that could negate the benefits of the treatment. Also, ensure to follow a Vata-pacifying diet.
Shirodhara Oil Ingredients
The oil or liquid to be used for Shirodhara Ayurvedic treatment are chosen based on the individual conditions and dosha imbalance. Generally, herbal oils along with buttermilk, coconut water, decoctions consisting of liquorice and milk are used as the ingredients of the liquid. One session may require about 2-3 litres of the massaging liquid, and they are known to treat a host of health conditions, such as memory loss, allergic rhinitis, hearing damage, vertigo, tinnitus, insomnia, eye diseases, sinusitis, Meniere’s disease, various neurological disorders as well as certain skin disorders like psoriasis.
The most commonly used Shirodhara oil is Ksheer Bala tailam, which is made from a mixture of sesame oil, Bala herb paste and cow’s milk. Other types of oil include Chandanadi tailam, Narayana tailam, Karpasasthyadi tailam and Dhanwantharam tailam. Sometimes, in the absence of these oils, sesame oils can be used for Shirodhara massage, and that will work just fine. The sesame oil is rich in active ingredients and antioxidants like sesamin, sesaminol and sesaminol that help in regulating the activity of serotonin in the brain. Moreover, Shirodhara benefits the body by relieving stress, promoting tranquillity and inducing peaceful sleep. For the treatment of people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Shirodhara therapy may be performed with oils mixed with nervine herbs.
What Are the Benefits of Shirodhara Treatment?
Stressful events may cause the body to go through physical or emotional changes that can make them anxious, frustrated and angry. Shirodhara treatment can help to significantly reduce the stress from the mind and body.
When warm herbal oils are poured on the forehead along with a light massage of the head, the body goes into a relaxation state, conserves energy, dilates the blood vessels and slows down the heart rate. Hence, Shirodhara therapy is crucial in the treatment of hypertension and arrhythmia.
As most of the diseases that exist today are in some way related to stressful lifestyles, minimising the impacts of stress is essential to ensure lifelong health. Shirodhara promotes tranquillity and calmness and counteracts stress. Even a single session of Shirodhara can help you fight the effects of stress for hours or days.
The point between the eyebrows is considered as the ‘Third Eye’ in many Ayurvedic scriptures. As mentioned earlier, it is the centre of intuition and foresight as well as the point of spiritual awakening. Shirodhara benefits the mind as it stimulates this point and opens up the third eye leading to the free-flowing of one’s life forces or prana. It removes any blockages in the energy channels of the mind and helps the individual to look at events buried in their past from a viewpoint which wasn’t accessible earlier. Moreover, the downpour of the Shirodhara oil also helps them to gain immense mental clarity to deal with their past traumas, emotional experiences and unresolved pains.
Improves Quality of Sleep
Insomnia and sleep issues have become a common problem for individuals looking at the fast-paced lifestyle that most of us follow. The lack of or irregularity in sleep can be extremely exhausting and lead to lethargy, a decline in decision-making abilities and mental functions as well as negatively impact the physical and emotional wellbeing. Shirodhara treatment is known to reduce the cortisol levels in the body thereby alleviating the symptoms of stress and improving the quality and duration of sleep.
Shirodhara therapy is a natural stress buster. With relaxing head massage and herbal oils, Shirodhara eliminates toxins from the head and enhances the cognitive functions of the brain. It regulates the levels of serotonin hormone in the body, which contributes to happiness and wellbeing of the individual. Consequently, it also reduces the symptoms of anxiety, like uneasiness, restlessness, cold hands and feet, etc.
Pacifies Vata Doshas
Aggravated Vata Dosha in the body can lead to unwanted and chaotic thoughts, forgetfulness, restlessness and lack of attention. Shirodhara is an excellent therapy and remedy to pacify the excess Vata Dosha. The balancing properties of the herbal oils used in Shirodhara counteract the cool, light and fluctuating nature of the Vata dosha thereby alleviating the symptoms of Vata imbalance.
The Shirodhara Ayurvedic treatment is the most requested therapy by our patrons at Govardhan EcoVillage, and there are good reasons for that. The therapy offers a great sense of relaxation and induces soothing effects on the mind. It uses several Ayurvedic oils that not only soothes and nourishes the brain, but also treats a host of health anomalies, like stress, migraine, hypertension, and more.
At Govardhan EcoVillage, we believe that living harmoniously with nature and adopting Ayurvedic practices should be a part of our daily lives. We shouldn’t wait until there is a health disorder or problem. Shirodhara treatment offers countless benefits and is extremely beneficial for the mind and body.
If you would like to experience the curative wonders of this ancient therapeutic marvel, feel free to reach out to us. Let this classical Ayurvedic therapy revive you and create a connection with your inner spiritual self.