5 Ways Shirodhara Helps Mind, Body and Hair
Imagine lying down face-up with comfortably warm oil cascading over your forehead and through your hair like a loving mother’s hand gently caressing her child’s head. Now imagine experiencing that feeling not just for a moment, but for 30 to 60 minutes. That’s a glimpse of how it feels to receive Shirodhara, one of Ayurveda’s most popular body therapies.
This iconic treatment often pictured to represent Ayurveda, is deeply rejuvenating and ultimately results in a more tranquil mind and calm nervous system that in turn supports the body’s natural state of balance and wellbeing.
As with all of Ayurveda’s ancient body therapies, when properly given by a skilled and attentive therapist, the treatment is customized to the individual. Shirodhara is customized by adjusting the treatment time, oil type and temperature, as well as stream thickness, height and placement. These factors come together for an experience that delivers the amazing benefits below.
1. Shirodhara Calms the Mind
An overly active mind with ceaseless thinking is a primary driver of imbalance for both the mind and the body. It heightens stress and leads us to make poor choices when it comes to food or anything else because we’re likely rushing and not grounded in the present moment. Consumed with planning, obsessing or ruminating, such a mind disturbs sleep and puts us on edge affecting our relationships and quality of life.
The slow, heavy quality and warmth of the shirodhara oil streaming over and around the sixth chakra pacifies vata dosha in the mind — the dosha responsible for excessive movement. The sixth chakra is an energy center between the eyebrows that is connected to the limbic system in the lower brain, which plays a significant role in emotions and memory. With consecutive treatments, shirodhara releases stored agitating emotions. (1, 2)
2. Shirodhara Relieves Stress
With a calmer mind, stress relief follows. “[Shirodhara] quiets both the mind and the senses, which allows the body’s natural healing mechanisms to release stress from the nervous system,” writes Dr. Sunil Joshi, MD (Ayu) in his book Ayurveda and Panchakarma. (3) It is this release of stress that can result in shirodhara helping to lower elevated blood pressure and ease chronic headaches. (4, 5)
3. Shirodhara Promotes Restful Sleep
Shirodhara’s sedating effects on the mind and nervous system promote a restful night’s sleep and help to relieve insomina. This and other benefits of shirodhara can be experienced from the very first session, however, consecutive daily sessions as traditionally given may have a more noticeable and lasting impact. (6)
4. Shirodhara Assists Detoxification
Shirodhara serves as a complementary therapy in panchakarma, the five to 28 day detoxification and rejuvenation protocol of Ayurveda. The goal of panchakarma is to draw all of one’s excess doshas and ama (toxicity in the body resulting from poor digestion) back into the digestive tract for elimination. Several days of shirodhara are typically given during panchakarma to aid the detoxification process by supporting the nervous system, which thereby supports the digestive system.
5. Shirodhara Supports Self-Healing
Ultimately, all the benefits of shirodhara work together to bring the mind and body into a state of balance. When your mind is calm, your sleep is restful, your digestion is strong and your reaction to stress is contained within the armor of self-care, your body’s self-healing mechanisms work as they were designed.
BONUS: Shirodhara Nourishes Hair and Scalp
Shirodhara’s effects on the mind and nervous system are the most profound, however, a side benefit that is highly under rated and rarely discussed are the treatment’s benefit to the hair and scalp. Shirodhara is a hot oil hair treatment like none other that:
- Restores luster and vibrance to colored hair
- Smooths split ends
- Prevents frizz
- Softens dry hair
- Moisturizes the scalp
- Delivers herbal benefits to the scalp (if an herbal oil is used for the treatment)
- Increases blood circulation, therefore nourishment to the scalp, and
- Is said to slow and reverse graying hair
How can you receive shirodhara?
It is best to receive this treatment from a therapist specifically trained in Ayurvedic body therapies, and ideally under the direction of a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner or Ayurvedic Doctor.
If you live in or near Charlotte, NC, schedule a treatment at TESIA LOVE Wellness | Ayurveda located on Park Road near South Park.
I’d love to hear from you
Have you received shirodhara before? Where? How was your experience? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comment section below.
- Douillard, John (2004). The Encyclopedia of Ayurvedic Massage, pp 271-273. North Atlantic Books.
- Swenson, Rand S. (2006). Limbic System. In Dartmouth Medical School’s Review of Clinical and Functional Neuroscience. https://www.dartmouth.edu/~rswenson/NeuroSci/chapter_9.html
- Joshi, Sunil (1996). Ayurveda and Panchakarma, p. 194. Lotus Press.
- Kundu, C et. al (2010). The role of psychic factors in pathogenesis of essential hypertension and its management by Shirodhara and Sarpagandha Vati in AYU (An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22048535
- Vinjamury, S. et. al (2014). Ayurvedic therapy (Shirodhara) for Insomnia: A Case Series in Global Advances in Health and Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921608/
- National Sleep Foundation. What Causes Insomnia. https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-causes-insomnia