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Kick back, relax and let the world wash over you. Shirodhara is part of the ancient Hindu practise Ayurveda that helps to soothe away stresses and strife. A relaxing treatment, warm oil is poured continuously over the forehead (considered as the third eye) in order to clear your mind and cleanse the soul. Proven to help with headaches, insomnia, nervousness and fatigue, it’s deemed so effective that it’s sometimes recommended you clear your diary of activities the following day so you can experience the lasting effects of feeling liberated.
Underneath your forehead lies your third eye, an important chakra point when it comes to balancing the body as it’s here your mind holds onto past impressions and experiences. These can create both imbalanced desires and addictive patterns of behaviour, so by pouring oil over the forehead, it serves to relax the nervous system and improve the function of your five senses. It also removes energetic debris that can lead to sleeping disorders, anxiety and mood swings.
Performed lying face up on a massage table, your therapist will place a small towel over your eyes so none of the fluid trickles into them, but don't expect the same prevention steps for your barnet as the oil will run freely over your scalp and into your hair.
Depending on what condition is being treated the liquid used can be anything from milk and buttermilk to coconut or plain water but more often than not, the preferred choice is herb-infused or sesame oil. This is then gently warmed before being poured in a continuous thin stream over your forehead and onto the scalp from a special metallic pot safely suspended above your head. Not to be confused with Chinese water torture where you’re blindfolded and water is dripped directly onto your forehead to drive you insane, the free flowing warm oils induce a mental calming and the treatment is often combined with a head, face or foot massage.
The only removal required for this treatment is any make-up or jewellery you might be wearing, although you might want to avoid coming dressed in designer clobber as the oil could work its way down your neck and onto your threads.
Lasting between 45 and 60 minutes, it’s not unheard of that you’ll remain in a blissful state of tranquillity for up to five days after your treatment. And although you can benefit from a one-off encounter with Shirodhara, the more treatments you put in, the more you’ll get out of it as the first session is often fairly basic so not all of your emotions are released. Sessions afterwards will then pick up the pace and become progressively more intense, working to affect those deeper depths of your mind.
Shirodhara has been used to treat a variety of conditions including eye diseases, sinusitis, allergies, the greying of hair, neurological disorders, memory loss, insomnia, hearing problems, tinnitus, vertigo and certain types of skin diseases like psoriasis. It can also be used non-medicinally for its relaxing properties.
Shirodhara is a Sanskrit word combining two words – ‘shiro’ meaning head and ‘dhara’ meaning flow.