Shirodhara — an Ayurvedic technique to help beat stress

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Wondering if you should get shirodhara treatment? Here are all your queries about the treatment answered.

Shirodhara is an ancient Ayurvedic healing technique that literally translates into Shiras refering to ‘the head’ and dhara meaning ‘unbroken flow’ in sanskrit.

This ayurvedic therapy involves a stream of oil dropping over your head steadily to bring about an immense feeling of relaxation, calmness and stillness of the mind. Used for the the treatment of conditions such as headaches, nervous disorders, stress, migraines, insomnia and hypertension, shirodhara is based on the principle of invigorating the mind and bringing oneness in the body.

How is it done?

During the shirodhara you will be made to lie down on a wooden table called a Panchakarma table. As you lie down, a copper bowl containing medicated oil will be hung above your forehead. Before the stream of oil is started the practitioner will place a cloth over your eyebrows to prevent the flow of oil from entering the eyes and cotton balls dipped in cold rose water will be placed on your eyes to help you relax. The stream of oil is then started and is allowed to fall on the area of the forehead that corresponds to the particular type of treatment. This treatment is based on an analysis of your doshas and recognising which one is out of sync. The treatment usually lasts for about 60 to 90 minutes and you will be allowed to rest after the process.

Depending on the type of condition you are suffering from, the practitioner may choose to use medicated oil (usually sesame oil), milk or butter milk. Regardless of the presence of an illness, a practitioner may suggest undergoing this therapy once every few months for overall relaxation and relief from deep-seated stress.

How does it work?

When a constant stream of warm oil is poured over your forehead, it massages your head leading to more blood circulation to the brain and nervous system. The therapy works on the myomaya kosha or the mental sheath and invigorates the mind thereby calming it, the nerves and relieving other neurological conditions.

Benefits of shirodhara

Shirodhara is considered one of the most effective treatments to reduce stress and tension. It also helps to enhance blood circulation to the brain and thereby improve memory, nourishes the hair and scalp, helps beat insomnia and calms the mind and body.

Apart from that, shirodhara treatment is also known to help with:
  • nervous system related conditions such as facial palsy, paralysis, ptosis,
  • insomnia,
  • premature greying of hair,
  • burning of the eyes,
  • poor digestion and metabolism
  • Who should not undergo the treatment?
Most people can undergo this treatment but there are some cases where it is contraindicated. If you are pregnant, have had a recent neck injury, suffer from a cold, have a rash or an abrasion on your forehead, suffer from severe vata imbalance, anxiety, a brain tumor or are an alcoholic then shirodhara treatment is contraindicated.

Dos and don’ts before the treatment: 
  • Do not go for the treatment on a full stomach. It is suggested that you wait for a few hours after you have eaten, before you go for the treatment.  
  • Carry loose fitting and easily removable clothes. This is because most centers will ask you to change into the clothes they give you.
  • Do not go for the treatment when you have other things to do after the process. Since you will be asked to rest for a few hours after the treatment, a packed day will most likely undo all the benefits of the treatment. 
  • Carry a scarf that you don’t mind getting soiled. You will need to tie this scarf around your head as your hair will be extremely oil after a course of shirodhara treatment. 



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