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The science of Ayurveda is an ancient and comprehensive approach to health and longevity that has been practiced in India for millennia. Its roots can be traced back to various Vedic texts, and its practices have a long-standing history of promoting physical well-being, emotional well-being, and spiritual union. Its purpose is to balance the different energy levels known as dosha and bring balance to your body, mind, and spirit.
A form of Ayurvedic therapy known as Shirodhara is a therapeutic and regenerative process designed to stabilize the mental and physical states of the body, thereby bringing them into balance. It works on a physiological, psychological, and emotional level.
What Is Shirodhara Massage?
Shirodhara therapy is a centuries-old Ayurvedic approach to healing that seeks to bring the body, mind, and soul into a state of harmony. Considered one of the most cleansing and rejuvenating therapies available, Shirodhara is formulated in a way that not only helps clear the body of harmful toxins (ama) but also reduces stress, eliminates mental exhaustion, and treats a variety of disorders.
The concept of Shirodhara is derived from the two Sanskrit words 'Shiro' meaning 'head' and 'dhara' meaning 'pouring' or ‘spraying'. Basically, it's like having warm herbal oils poured on your forehead from a certain height for a certain amount of time in a continuous flow so that the oil can run through your scalp and into your hair.
Shirodhara works on all layers of your body. It exfoliates your skin, transports lymphatic fluid, relieves stress, removes muscle tension, balances doshic components, and clears toxins. It also helps with central nervous system function, treats illnesses like anxiety and depression, and gives a whole new energy to your mind and body.
How Does Shirodhara Work?
Shirodhara helps to calm your mind and relax your body. When the warm liquid falls on the center of your forehead, it creates tactile stimulation of the Ajna chakra. This draws your senses inward, creating a deep sense of inner peace. The warm liquid stimulates your nerves and your local blood vessels, improving your blood circulation.
When Shirodhara focuses on specific energy points affecting your nervous system, it creates neurophysiological harmony. After a Shirodhara massage, you will experience a state of mental tranquility, sharpened concentration, and a sense of freedom from sensory overload. Shirodhara also helps with hair and scalp health.
Which Oil is Best For Shirodhara?
There are lots of different types of oils and liquids that can be used for Shirodhara. It all depends on the doctor and what works best for you. It also depends on how much Vata Doshas you have in your body when you're getting the massage.
Most people use sesame oil because it's easy to blend with other essential oils and because it's neutral. It's packed with antioxidants and powerful ingredients like sesamin, sesaminol, and sesamol that help regulate the serotonin levels in your brain. Not only does it soothe and relax your head, but it can also help reduce stress and get you to sleep.
Shirodhara also uses coconut oil and clarified butter.
Water, buttermilk, coconut water, and cow’s milk are also used by some practitioners for Shirodhara massage.
Shirodhara primarily uses Ksheer Bala Tailam, which is a blend of Bala herb paste, sesame oil, and cow’s milk.
Other popular varieties of this tailam are Chandanadi Tailam, Karpasasthyadi tailam, Narayana Tailam, and Dhankwantharam Tailam.
The combination of Shirodhara oils and nervine herbs has been found to be advantageous in the therapy of post-traumatic stress syndrome.
How is Shirodhara Massage Done?
The practice of Shirodhara requires specialized training, and it is strongly advised to get it administered by a qualified practitioner. It is not recommended to perform this massage therapy at home unless accompanied by a qualified professional. The duration of the procedure can range from 36 to 72 minutes and may include a prior full-body massage. The following steps will be conducted upon completion of a Shirodhara massage:
Before the procedure begins, oil is applied to your head and scalp for 5-10 minutes.
Lie on your back with a pillow or rolled towel underneath your neck to support your back.
The Shirodhara device is a pot that has a hole at the bottom and is centered so that the oil can be poured directly onto your forehead.
The oil is poured over the head and forehead, and the pot is in constant motion, moving from side to side of the forehead with the oil flowing from left to right.
You should be able to feel the flow of oil and feel the oil seeping deeply into your head. The process will continue for about 30 to 72 minutes.
During the process, you will be given a gentle head massage. Once the process is finished, the oil will be wiped from your forehead, and you will rest for another 30-45 minutes.
After the procedure is finished, you should take a bath in either medicated or warm water after 30 minutes.Use medicated shampoo to remove the oil.
Benefits of a Shirodhara Massage
Shirodhara is very effective when used in combination with other Ayurvedic therapies, however, a Shirodhara on its own has many benefits for the body and mind. Here are some of the benefits of Shirodhara:
1. Reduces Fatigue
The effects of Shirodhara are to reduce fatigue and initiate a calming response in the brain cells.
Shirodhara is a cleansing and rejuvenating process that is intended to remove toxins and mental fatigue, as well as reduce stress and any adverse effects on the central nervous system.
2. Beneficial in Sleep-Related Problems
Shirodhara has a calming effect on your hypothalamus and regulates the activity of your pituitary gland to help you fall asleep. It also helps treat conditions like insomnia.
3. Boosts Blood Circulation
In Shirodhara, warm herbal oils act as a vasodilator, thereby increasing blood flow to the brain.
4. Helps Improve Headaches
When you're stressed or have an anxiety attack, your Pitta dosha gets in the way of your Vata dosha and causes a throbbing pain in your head.
These essential oils have a calming effect on aggravated doshas, as well as relieving stress-related headaches and migraine symptoms.
5. Lowers Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
Shirodhara helps to calm the hypothalamus and regulate the pituitary gland. It also helps to reduce high serotonin levels and high levels of stress hormones like noradrenaline and adrenaline to manage stress better.
The constant flow of fluids over the head helps to calm and stabilize the mind so that it becomes relaxed and calm. Shirodhara is a type of restorative therapy used to treat stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as all psychosomatic diseases.
6. Improves Concentration
By providing nourishment to the scalp, Shirodhara improves mental clarity, improves the thinking process, and reduces stress. It also prevents neurodegenerative disorders, which lead to memory loss and difficulty concentrating.
Contraindications of Shirodhara
Shirodhara is a safe form of Ayurveda practice that does not cause any adverse reactions. Nevertheless, there are a few factors to be aware of when undergoing this therapy. During the procedure, it is essential to take appropriate precautions to prevent the oil from entering the eyes and ears.
In some extreme cases, the massage may cause contra-indications such as dizziness, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, inflammatory diseases, allergy, or fever. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that the procedure be conducted in a certified Ayurveda clinic by a professional therapist.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of Shirodhara?
Various benefits of Shirodhara include the following.
It is really helpful for people who have Vata and Pitta imbalance
It aids memory, relieves anxiety and nervousness
Promotes better sleep
Increases blood circulation in the head and brain
Cures chronic headaches, migraines
What are the side effects of Shirodhara?
Shirodhara is a safe form of Ayurveda practice that does not cause any adverse reactions. Nevertheless, there are a few factors to be aware of when undergoing this therapy. In some extreme cases, the massage may cause contra-indications such as dizziness, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, inflammatory diseases, allergy, or fever. Hence the procedure should be performed in a certified Ayurveda clinic by a professional therapist.
Who should avoid Shirodhara?
People having the following condition should avoid taking Shirodhara.
Pregnant women at the end of their pregnancy
People who have an allergic reaction to oil
People who suffer from nausea or vomiting, fever, fatigue, or excessive sweating
Individuals with a neck injury or brain tumor
Individuals who have a cut or abrasion on the forehead
The divine Shirodhara massage offers the highest level of relaxation and brings peace of mind to your mind. The different herbs used in this therapy not only soothe, nourish, and pacify your doshas but are also widely used to treat many health conditions such as stress, depression insomnia, high blood pressure, migraine, and many more. Try this classic Ayurveda therapy, which not only enhances spiritual awareness but also helps to create a new connection with your inner soul.