Updated: Apr 3
Shirodhara is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment consisting in pouring a continuous stream of warm oil in the forehead (Sthapani Marma). The gentle pressure of the warmed oil creates a vibration and saturates the forehead and scalp deeply penetrating the nervous system and inducing the client to experience a meditative state and profound relaxation.
Shiro (head) + dhara (stream)
Shirodhara effects on the Doshas
Shirodhara soothes, nourishes and pacifies symptoms of imbalanced Vata dosha (fear, racing thoughts, insecurity and worry) as well as it benefits those with symptoms of imbalanced Pitta dosha (frustration, anger, irritability, criticism). Shirodhara is very effective in alleviating stress and reversing cases of insomnia.
The Shirodhara environment
Observe complete silence, comfortable room temperature, reduced light and neutral or relaxing smell is very important during the treatment. Everything should be collaborating to quite the mind and to not disturb any of the senses.
While Shirodhara is being performed, no music should be playing and the treatment should be given in a silent space without interruptions, avoiding any conversation. The environment should support the person being treated to disengage of any external stimuli in order to experience mental relaxation, with that said the therapist should be aware of the temperature of the room and how is it affecting the client according to his/her constitution (example: eventually additional blankets in cases of Vata prakruti/vikruti predominance or light linen if Pitta prakruti/vikruti predominating, etc)
The choice of the oils according to each individual
In my practice I work only with certified organic oils and oils sourced with respect for the environment. I personally work and distribute oils from Banyan Botanicals and Floracopeia, which are my trusted sources.
While providing Ayurvedic treatments, oils should be chosen according to the client’s constitution and actual state as well as considering the current season and natural environment.
Getting ready for your Shirodara treatment
If you schedule a Shirodhara treatment, keep in mind that you might need additional rest afterwards. Your hair will be saturated with oil so dress comfortably and wear something you will don’t mind if some oil spills. Remember to eat light before your treatment.
According time to rest after your treatment
Take some extra rest and avoid unnecessary stimulation after your treatment (avoid crowded places, television, social media, overthinking and emotional stress)
Keep your head protected from cold and wind after your treatment;
If possible leave the oil in your hair overnight (use an old towel or wear a shower cap to protect your bed and pillow from any excess oil).
Indications for Shirodhara
For the healthy individual looking to maintain health
Graying of hair or hair loss
Irritability, Anxiety and Depression
Headache, neck and back tension
To restore eyesight
Calms the nervous systems
Induces to a meditative state
Contra-indications for Shirodhara
Not advised on a full stomach
Not advised during pregnancy
Not advised in case of localized sunburn, wounds or rashes in the forehead
Not advised in case of acute illness (nausea, vomiting, cold, flu)
Not advised in case of recent neck injury or brain tumor
Not advised if the person has aversion to oil
About the Author: Carol Jamault is a Certified Health & Life Coach, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Registered Yoga Instructor (RYT-200) with a solid background in design and branding. She supports her clients in stress management and self-care through an integrative approach to wellness by providing bodywork services, consultations, and curated information and products to restore balance, improve individual wellness, and to boost vitality. Carol has been studying alternative healing, ethnobotany, circadian medicine, and Ayurveda since 2001. She is the founder of Hridayam Bodywork & Apothecary and is shown here performing Shirodhara on Vinyasa Yoga instructor Sandra Freidman and photographed by So-Min Kang.