From the Sanskrit words “shiras” (head) and “dhara” (flow), shirodhara is the gentle, constant application of warm oil on the third eye or ‘ajna marma’, an area where nerves are highly concentrated, just above and between the eyebrows.
When the warm oil is being gently poured on your forehead, it induces a deep state of relaxation, calms the nervous system, and stimulates the endocrine system (pituitary gland). It is the most divine treatment there is and nothing rivals it in terms of its effects besides an established mediation practice.
It’s a treatment that melts away stress and tension in both the mind and body.
Benefits from Shirodhara?
Shirodhara has been used for over 5,000 years in Ayurvedic therapy for a compromised nervous system. Shirodhara is used to eliminate diseases of head and disorders affecting the neck, eyes, ears, nose and nervous system.
It is extremely beneficial for relieving symptoms of anxiety, stress, fatigue, worry, tension, headache as well as balancing moods in depressive disorders. It also treats hypertension and is great for the hair and scalp.
According to traditional texts (Astanga Hrdaya: Sutra 2:7-8), the Shirodhara technique, if done correctly, is known to accomplish wonderful healing.
• It is one of the most effective methods for reducing stress and nervous tension
• It supports blood circulation, enhances blood circulation to the brain
• It improves the memory
• It nourishes the hair and scalp, slows hair greying, supports hair growth
• It rejuvenates the skin
• It helps in the treatment of insomnia
• It helps regular the circadian rhythm and balance the sleep-wake cycle (great for shift workers)
• It cures migraines and headaches
• It helps with nervous disorders
• It eliminates anxiety and fear
• It has positive effects on hypertension (high blood pressure)
• It has positive effects on asthma
• It helps to relieve diabetes
• It relaxes the body
• It rejuvenates and slows down the ageing process
• It helps with disorders affecting the neck, eyes, ears, and nose
• It stimulates the 3rd eye and crown chakras, and awakens intuition and inner wisdom
• Helps mental focus and concentration
How does shirodhara work?
When the warm oil softly falls onto the forehead the oil saturates the forehead and scalp and penetrates into the nervous system. The pressure of the oil creates a vibration internally which induces rest. ‘The vibration is amplified by the hollow sinus present in the frontal bone. The vibration is then transmitted inwards through the fluid medium of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This vibration along with little temperature may activate the functions of thalamus and the basal fore brain which then brings the amount of serotonin and catecholamine to the normal stage inducing the sleep.’ (Ed Danaher, Journal of The Ayurvedic Institute,1995)
One of the major benefits of Shirodhara is its ability to alleviate stress, anxiety and tension as well as improve the function of the nervous system. This is due to the concentration on the third eye that directly correlates to the Pineal gland; this stimulation of the pineal gland causes a release of Pinoline (assists in improved nervous function), DMT (our spirit molecule that links body and soul) and other happiness causing neurochemicals.
By stimulating the pineal gland, it improves the production of Melatonin. Serotonin, our happy brain chemical, is transformed into Melatonin in the pineal gland. Melatonin is responsible for the aging process, important for creating a youthful look, and also regulates our sleep wake cycle – assisting us to get a deeper more restful sleep.
According to Ayurveda, Shirodhara is beneficial for balancing the Doshas. Stress and anxiety, according to Ayurveda, is a state of imbalance of the Vata Dosha. When out of balance, Vata dosha presents as fear, insecurity, worry, racing thoughts. Shirodhara is the direct antidote to a Vata imbalance. The action and qualities of the medicated oil used in Shirodhara counters the qualities of the out of balance dosha. It soothes, nourishes and pacifies the dosha.
Pitta also plays a part here. When the subdosha Sadhaka pitta is out of balance it exhibits as anger, irritability, frustration, judgment and jealousy. Shirodhara aids to pacify this dosha so assists in alleviating emotional stress and destructive emotions which cultivates peace and tranquillity in mind and body.