Shirodhara is a miraculous form of Ayurvedic therapy that comprises pouring the liquids gently over the forehead and is one of the steps involved in Panchakarma. The liquids used in Shirodhara has to be decided accordingly on what is being treated, liquids included can be oil, buttermilk, milk, coconut water, or even plain water. The name Shirodhara is originated from the Sanskrit words meaning Shiro (head) and Dhara (flow).
Shirodhara is one of the unique body therapies taken from the ancient natural medical system Ayurveda. Shirodhara has an intense impact on the nervous system. This indicates that the treatment immediately and directly relaxes and calms giving a cleansing effect on the mind and nerves.
The information on Shirodhara is a bit wider and scattered; I have gathered all the information that you need to know about Shirodhara therapy in this article.
The knowledge you will gain from this article:
- Who will benefit from Shirodhara?
- Who Should NOT Have Shirodhara
- How Shirodhara works?
- How to ensure you get a perfect Shirodhara?
- Finally, how to prepare for a Shirodhara treatment?
Who will benefit from Shirodhara?
Shirodhara is an effective treatment for a compromised nervous system; it helps in relieving symptoms of stress, anxiety, hypertension, and fatigue. It relieves you from worry, fear, tension, and headache, over and above depression. It will balance your mood and will provide you a feeling of pleasure and relaxation.
Shirodhara also helps in curing with the following conditions:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The primary dosha out of balance in PTSD is excess Vatadosha, Shirodhara helps in reducing it. According to Alakananda Ma of the Alandi Ayurveda Gurukulam, When Shirodhara is done with appropriate Shirodhara Oil consisting of nervine herbs that will deeply soothe the nervous system and help calm the symptoms of PTSD.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD) and Insomnia
Shirodhara is traditionally recognized for its competency in helping with sleep problems. Research proves that the treatment is very effective by itself and also when brought together with herbal support. Shirodhara with milk is also proven to be very effective in treating insomnia. The procedure stimulates the pineal gland which produces melatonin, the regulator of the wake-sleep cycle. It calms an unquiet thought and induces relaxation. If your insomnia derives from working the night shift and your wake-sleep cycle is out of sync with the regular times of the sun. Shirodhara can help in removing fatigue, restoring power and re-setting up harmony in the doshas or constitution.
Jet lag or time zone change syndrome or desynchronizes, this occurs when people travel rapidly from west to east or east to west, in an aircraft. If you’re a Jet lag and your daily sleep time is very often at variance and you suffer, then Shirodhara will help you reform your everyday pattern of waking and sleeping in addition to it remove Shirodhara will also remove the built up fatigue. Use Vata oil or Bhringaraj oil while travelling, apply this oil to the head before you go to bed or just invest some money in an easily carried Shirodhara unit.
Generally, hypertension is explained as blood pressure above 140/90 and is considered to be severe if the pressure is above 180/120. Shirodhara has shown proven results with it, is effective in lowering blood pressure including an impressive treatment for a healthy individual who is expecting to maintain health and improve immunity, calm, clarity, and well being. Shirodhara develops a deep relaxation, cures fatigue and renews and rejuvenates the mind and body.
Shirodhara helps in increasing the immunity level by relieving stress and worry, and matching the doshas or Ayurveda mind-body types so that your health stays strong.
Shirodhara offers you a deep rest and transformed energy bringing about an ageless and youthful appearance. It further balances one’s energy level. If you are in lacking rest and relaxation, this process will take care of that. It will give you a total relaxation as it would be from meditation. This will naturally relax and reinvigorate the face and soften worry lines or expression lines.
Shirodhara Side Effects
Who Should NOT Have Shirodhara?
Shirodhara is beneficial for any kind of dosha or constitution. Despite there are a few contraindications.
Shirodhara Should NOT be performed to women during her third trimester of pregnancy and also to those with a sunburn or rash on their forehead or scalp.
Other contraindications include severe weakness, exhaustion, fainting or spontaneous sweating, brain tumour, recent neck injury, abrasions or cuts on the head, acute illness, fever/chills, nausea, vomiting, severe weakness, exhaustion, fainting or spontaneous sweating.
If you are allergic to oil then it is not recommended for you.
What is Shirodhara?
Shirodhara is a traditional Panchakarma cleansing process done using uniquely prepared Shirodhara oil.
Shirodhara is an age-old ayurvedic therapy with warm oil or other liquid that flows over the forehead or ‘ajnamarma’ in a continuous stream i.e. a spot where nerves are highly concentrated. The pressure of the oil in contact with the forehead creates a vibration. The forehead and scalp are saturated with oil and penetrates into the nervous system.
The soothing warmth and a gentle pressure of the oil allow the body, mind and nervous system to experience a deep state of rest i.e. similar to meditation.
How does Shirodhara work?
Shirodhara works like a magic. According to Ayurveda, Shirodhara benefits for both Vatadosha and Pitta Dosha. When out of self-control, Vatadosha expresses as worry, fear, insecurity, bipolar disorder. Out of self-control Pitta dosha reveals as anger, frustration, irritability, judgment. The action and qualities of the liquid used in Shirodhara correct the qualities of the out of balance doshas. It soothes, nourishes and pacifies the doshas with the application of the liquid to the forehead, scalp and nervous system.
According to Ayurveda, Stress is a state of imbalance referring to pranavayu, sadaka pitta, and tarpakakapha. Shirodhara regenerates the useful integrity of these three doshic subtypes and thus helps alleviate stress.
In the method of Shirodhara, a particular pressure and vibration are created over the forehead. The vibration is amplified by the hollow sinus existing in the frontal bone. The vibration is then transmitted inwards via the fluid medium of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This vibration, as well as a little temperature, may furthermore activate the functions of the thalamus and the basal forebrain which formerly brings the amount of serotonin and catecholamine to the normal stage bringing out the sleep.
How to Get a Perfect Shirodhara
If you’re new to Shirodhara and would like to have treatments probe your therapist to pay attention to these three key points. Look for a qualified Ayurvedic professional or a trained therapist for the therapy.
Comply with Silence
There should be complete silence, no music to be played during Shirodhara; cell phones need be switched off with no interruptions and no conversations taking place. Any kind of noise will break the experience of disengaging from out of doors stimuli and experiencing mental rest.
Be Aware of the Room’s Temperature
In colder climates and during the colder seasons of the year be sure to keep the room warm during the course of the treatment. Keep or ask for a space heater near you and ensure the room is warm enough. The head will be completely wet with oil in the course of the treatment, so it is extremely important that the client/you don’t get affected by cold during the process. If so, the experience could become unpleasant.
Vata body types can be additionally warmer with a few sheets of blankets.
Even during the warmer months of the year, you can still keep blankets on hand for the people who are inclined to cold or has poor circulation. You should make sure the temperature of the room is comfy and avoid cold ventilated rooms for Shirodhara much as possible.
Choose the Proper Liquid
Shirodhara oil needs are carefully selected for one’s constitution and the climate. Take the advice of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner or a well-trained therapist for an exact Shirodhara.
You can try Banyan Botanicals certified organic Shirodhara oil which is recommended. The tri-doshic blend consists of five Ayurvedic herbs filled with sesame and sunflower oils. This is suitable for all constitutions and I have observed and experienced a deep relaxation applying this oil.
The two oils, Sesame, and sunflower oil can also be used together as they blend well because as Sesame is heating and is good for Vatadosha and Sunflower oil is cooling and benefits pitta dosha.
Be cautious while choosing coconut oil. Coconut oil has a cooling effect on the body and will actually make the body cold. It shouldn’t be used on someone who has a vata imbalance or on the vata dominant person. This oil can be used during the hot summer months for a person with a pitta imbalance (too much heat in the system), or it can be blended with oils that have a heating action on the body to nullify its cold effects.
How to Prepare for a Shirodhara Appointment
Just after you schedule an appointment for Shirodhara, keep in mind that you will need extra rest for following the treatment.
Eat healthily and lightly before your appointment. Shirodhara will have an effect on the digestive system and a full stomach is not advisable.
Your hair is going to be completely saturated with oil. Dress accordingly and comfortably. Wear something you don’t mind getting oil on it, maybe an old shirt.
It is recommended to leave the oil on your hair for at least a few hours following the treatment. It’s a choice to leave the oil in your hair overnight.
Make ready to cover your head following the treatment. If the weather is too cool, windy or cold, bring in an old hat which will keep you warm, again something that you wouldn’t mind getting oil on, maybe an old scarf that works well to cover your head and hair in warmer weather, even a plastic shower cap works well.
Shirodhara clears the mind and the senses. Take advantage of this time and avoid unneeded stimulation after this treatment. Avoid large crowds like concerts, restaurants/bars, even large gatherings and make the rest of your day peaceful. This is the best time for mental rest.
Wash your hair like this
Assuming that Shirodhara was done with oil and you have a lot of hair, then the easiest method to remove the oil is to add the shampoo to your hair before adding water. The shampoo will catch hold of the oil, and so it can be easily rinsed out.
Avoid Caffeine for A Few Days
Caffeine creates inharmoniousness in the body. It messes up all of the doshas and this will generate an immediate negative effect on your nervous system. If you are in need of to eat something consume fresh fruit juice or some of the fresh fruits.
Relish Some Kitchari
Kitchari means mixture, usually of two grains, which is a light and delicious stew. Kitchari is highly nutritious and is easy to digest. Relishing kitchari Post-Shirodhara will help in the cleansing process and assist maintaining the balance of the doshas.
3 Tips for Continual Self-Care
It is quite likely that for some people the effects of your Shirodhara might not be known straight away. Continual care of yourself and over a period of time you will notice a change.
Kindly follow the below three tips to maintain the peaceful qualities If the effects of your Shirodhara were felt immediately.
Maintain a Proper Diet and Lifestyle
Eat healthily. Consume whole grains like oats, rice, and whole wheat. Prefer fresh fruit for a snack and eat vegetables every day. Consume high-quality dairy products and proteins. Say no to caffeine. A diet that is high in sugar, caffeine and refined products will eventually take its cost of the body and mind.
Maintain a Constant Schedule of Eating and Sleeping
Wake up and sleep with the rising and setting of the sun. Maintaining a daily routine retains the health of the doshas.
Meditation is the utmost cleanser for the body and mind and uniquely the other process that I am aware of which has the same benefits of Shirodhara – separation from thought, relaxation, rest and rejuvenate. If you are new to meditation here is a good place to start on.
Kindly share your thoughts in the comments below. If there is something you’d like to add? Have you had this treatment and how was your experience? Team up in the discussion.