Running hot oil that is continuously poured over the forehead while lying meditative on a traditional Indian Ayurveda bench – it sounds absolutely amazing! But Shirodhara is a philosophy and treatment that goes much deeper than that.
Practiced in more than 5,000 years – Shirodhara originated from India and is based on the ancient principles of Ayurvedic medicine.
The only reason I repeatedly have postponed this wellness treatment is simply because I have been worried about having my hair full of greasy oil, it has somehow never quite felt like the right time – at least that’s what I have said to myself. Yet Shirodhara is an exotic and exciting treatment that I have long wanted to try out – and now I’ve finally done it.
Shirodhara is a form of Ayurveda therapy involving liquids being poured over the forehead, the liquids used will vary based on what is being treated but may include oil, milk, coconut water, or simply clean water. Treatment areas are many and include, among others; eye diseases, insomnia, memory loss, psoriasis, gray hair, sinusitis, neurological disorders, dizziness, and hearing impairment. Studies show that Shirodhara is a safe alternative to improve sleep quality among those who suffer from sleep problems, the treatment has also proven effective in reducing stress and anxiety. When I arrived at the Ayurveda Center & Spa in Drammen I was taken into a consultation room where I prior to treatment were asked about the complaints I have, when I did not have anything to report, we agreed that the starting point in the treatment would be well-being – which has been a frequent trend in the West.
Did you know that – The calming effect produced by Shirodhara is similar to that obtained with meditation.
The first thing I noticed was the treatment table in wood with beautiful carvings and the classic Shirodhara oil pail hanging over the bench. My therapist was a nice Indian lady, who clearly knew what she was doing. The treatment started with me in a sitting position, where oil was massaged into my scalp and muscles of the shoulders, neck and head were warmed up. This, combined with the treatment room being nice and warm, contributed to me being able to relax completely. In advance of the Shirodhara treatment, it is common to be massaged so that body and mind are in a relaxed condition, I got a full body massage that reminded a bit of a mix of classical and aroma massage – though with more sweeping movements on the muscles. The therapist had good warm hands, and I almost forgot the time and place – I think I would have fallen asleep had I not been so excited about the Shirodhara treatment.
After a comfortable body massage and some readjustments of bench and body, it was now time for the Shirodhara treatment. I flinched a bit, but it was only because I had no idea how the flowing hot oil would feel like when it hit my skin, or if the oil would just flow out all over my face, but as the first drop of oil landed on my forehead I felt at ease. The oil flowed systematically over my scalp and the therapist controlled the flow of the oil during the entire treatment. The only thing I wondered about was that that oil had to be filled in manually, the same oil was used again (naturally), thus making the first flow of reused oil colder than the rest, which ruined the experience a bit. The therapist controlled the oil pail back and forth over a small area on my forehead, I think I would have preferred the oil flowing continuously over the same area as I think this would have made me even more reassured and calm, but it was still enough to make me drowsy.
The hot oil that continuously flows on the forehead results in stimulation of the hypothalamus, which will induce sleep. This therapy also dilates blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and further improves blood circulation in the brain. The treatment also reduces stress hormone levels.
When the treatment was finished the therapist spent time to squeeze out and dry up oil from my hair, I was later surprised how easy it was to wash out the oil. Moreover, it is recommended to wait 2-3 hours before showering after a Shirodhara treatment.
I felt relaxed the rest of the day, and I had no problems falling asleep in the evening. I can warmly recommend Shirodhara, and I’m already looking forward to the next treatment!
Please note! This therapy is not suitable for pregnant women who are in their third trimester. Also, Shirodhara is not suitable for those who have problems with sunburns or rash on the scalp. This therapy is also not recommended to those who are allergic to oil.