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Shirodhara: Golden Thread of Peace

Shirodhara (also spelled Sirodhara in the South Indian transliteration) is a traditional Ayurvedic treatment that can feel so good, its sometimes called “bliss therapy!”

Shirodhara is a shamana  treatment, often prescribed during the rasayana rejuvenation period after pancha karma (the traditional Ayurvedic five actions of detoxification), or any time calming and re-integrating the nervous system is a top priority.

In Sanskrit, shiro means “head;” dhara means “thread.” To undergo shirodhara is to receive an ever-flowing stream of warm, medicated oil onto one’s forehead, in alternating patterns which invite a brain state very similar to deep meditation.

To perform shirodhara, the therapists at Rasa Ayurveda fill an earthen kalam – a clay pot – with a warmed, herbalized oil, specially selected for the patient. This clay pot lends the bhumi qualities of the earth element to the treatment, and does not charge the oil even slightly with electromagnetic energy. The specific oil prepared for the patient will be prescribed by our doctor especially to address the needs of the patient. Commonly in use are Dhantantharam Tailam, Bala Taiilam, Chandanam Tailam, Bhringaamalagaadi Tailam and other oils, often made by hand on the grounds at Rasa Ayurveda from freshly-harvested ingredients.

The kalam rests in a sling of hand-twisted coconut rope which is hung from the ceiling, then held between a therapist’s two hands, rocked back and forth to gently stimulate marma points and match the mind’s travels, until the mind surrenders and a global body sense fills the patient’s awareness. A second therapist tends the oil temperature, and warms and replenishes fresh oil into the kalam as the oil flows down a cotton thread onto the forehead, and the therapy continues.

The sublime experience of shirodhara may lie beyond the grasp of language! But women love to try to describe the total and complete relaxation and effortless return to a sense of Self they. Some have compared shirodhara to being a small innocent baby once again, enjoying the soothing care and cradling of her mother. Therapists observe signs of deep relaxation, such as deepened, slower breathing, released muscle tension, sometimes accompanied by a few silent tears, sighs and gentle smiles.

Ayurvedic texts state that Shirodhara activates the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, opens the 6th and 7th chakras, heightens the senses and increases faith, intuition and overall spiritual awareness. Traditionally, Shirodhara has been applied to treat insomnia, memory loss, headaches, mental tension (anxiety, worry, stress), ADD, TMJ, exhaustion, emotional imbalance, various disorders of the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose and nervous system, and certain skin diseases.

Deeply stress-relieving, Shirodhara pacifies Vata while nourishing and calming the nervous system. Shirodhara cleanses the mind and senses of impressions, improving mental clarity and cognition. The herbal ingredients in the medicated oils are somewhat absorbed through the skin and enter the blood stream near the brain, emphasizing the neurological effect of shirodhara further.

In clinical studies, shirodhara has shown marked potential to alleviate insomnia, reduce anxiety, and diminish high blood pressure.

According to abstracts of a study published by K. Uebaba of Int. Res. Center for Traditional Medicine of Toyoma Prefecture, Toyama, Japan in Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine. “Physiological changes during shirodhara have been shown to  similar to those of meditation, including α-wave dominance in the frontal area and a decrease in heart rate and CO2 excretion. These findings indicated a change in the function of the frontal lobe, limbic system, brain stem, and autonomic nervous system.”

The nervous system is governed by the Vata dosha, and in Ayurveda, Vata is considered the leader of the doshas!  Nearly all imbalance begins with the involvement of the Vata dosha. Shirodhara can offer a profoundly healing effect on the nervous system, the disturbance of which is so often at the root of our imbalances and disease.

To be most effective, Shirodhara will be performed in a series of 3, 5 or 7 treatments over a series of days. Ayurveda is the “Mother of Medicine” and just like a mother’s tender care when a child is ill, time and repetition are a important aspect of the efficacy of Ayurvedic treatment.

Completed with grounding attention to the feet and some time to rest on the treatment table, a woman generally enjoys a natural peace, improved sleep and vision and a feeling of being refreshed overall after receiving a series of Shirodhara with oils selected just for her.

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We invite you to experience the benefits of Shirodhara here at Rasa Ayurveda Traditional Healing Centre for Women. Inquire today…!

We look forward to welcoming you soon.

With warm regards,

Niika Quistgard, CAS
Founder & Director