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“Brain on meditation mode :Shirodhara!”

“I cant believe my son can sleep so calm ……. its magic or what.” Screaming with happiness my patient\’s mother almost hugged me.

6 yrs old Kartik ,a patient of epilepsy and a bright hyperactive child was showing progress after i introduced Shirodhara along with the medicines. It was a tough job not less than a circus for us to manage him lie on the table for the Shirodhara sessions . But the circus was worth and paid very well in terms of smile on his mothers face. For her and many patients Shirodhara is some magic thing. Its not magic its a very different and unique therapy that is developed along the course in Ayurveda.

It is one of the many sub therapies which evolved after the basic Panchkarma (Five fundamental TriDosha specific therapies in Ayurveda).

Many of you when hear the word Ayurveda , an image of a pot n oil stream on forehead , must have flashed in mind at first . The reason behind this is , Shirodhara is one of the most globalized, recognized , practiced and praised for therapies in Ayurveda in almost all parts of the world.

Lets reveal the secret behind Shirodhara being the face of Ayurveda.

What is Shirodhara?

Shirodhara is a characteristic external therapy performed by trained therapists or Ayurveda doctors . The dhara (stream) for the certain time on the Shir  ( head / forehead) is the expanded meaning of the word Shirodhara.

How it is performed?

  • Thorough examination of person for the unique body type(prakriti), Dosha, pathology , disease.
  • Selection of medicinal oil /ghrit/decotion   .
  • To decide the time and frequency for the treatment.
  • Usually body massage and steam with dosha specific medicine is done as the pre procedure part
  • Patient lies on table on back and is covered in comfortable warm cloth. Hair are tied and kept back from forehead . Eyes are covered with cotton swabs.
  • The Shirodhara pot with warm oil or other choice of medicine is fixed on stand above the persons head in such a way that the oil will be poured on forehead from a approximate distance of 4 fingers
  • The oil stream is let flow on the forehead and the speed of flow is adjusted with the speed control knob .
  • The warm oil collected is replaced and filled time to time without break .
  • Once the certain time is achieved the pot is removed.
  • Gentle head and forehead massage is given to relax. Excess oil or medicine is wiped and cleaned.
  • Application of Jatamansi /  Rasna powder on forehead to protect the head from sudden exposure to wind and headache also it brings the some what numbed and relaxed senses back to conscious due to their aromatic action.
  • Swabs on eyes are removed .
  • Person is advised to keep warm and protect head nose and ears from cold wind .
  • Head wash and hot water bath  after one hour or so to is advised .

How it works?

  • Shirodhara mostly used in the imbalanced Vaat dosha and Pitta dosha . These two dosha have influence in creating imbalanced mental state (fear, anger, anxiety,stress, irregular emotional exhibitions , behavior problems etc)and psychosomatic disorders. The site of action of oil or medicine used in proximity  of major sinuses which are Vaat dominance sites according to Ayurveda.The micro vibrations are felt in between eyes on forehead which may be carried and further amplified in the frontal sinus and the little raised temperature activating the thalamus and basal brain .
  • The textbook of modern physiology explains the effect of pressure on impulse conduction through tactile and thermo receptors.If prolonged pressure is applied on the nerve, the impulse conduction is slowed down or interrupted and the related organ or part of organ goes to rest
  • In Shirodhara the stream of oil with certain pressure at a point on forehead for a specific period have calming effect on the impulse in the highly rich nerve plexus which is also called as Aadnya(Ajna)) chakra or also third eye in Yoga .  The sastradhar and Adnya chakra are interdependent and Shirodhara is supposed to have positive effect on both. 
  • The level of serotonin and catecholamine are seen lowered which in return relives the stress and induce sound sleep and tranquility of mind.

What are the benefits of Shirodhara?

Shirodhara is used in various health ailments as a part of treatment and works magic.

Though one has not any health issue , practicing Shirodhara regularly  in certain period  by advise of Ayurveda consultant generates number of positive changes in ones health. The stress free state of mind , replenished sense organs and hair health is improved. The improved sleep further adds to health and it reflects in glow on one\’s face.

In following health conditions Shirodhara is useful

  • Insomnia (loss of sleep), disturbed sleep.
  • Stress
  • Dementia , old age disorders of CNS
  • Hypertension
  • Anxiety , Migraine, headache due to stress
  • Some CNS disorders like Epilepsy, Autism etc
  • It nourishes the scalp and improves hair texture.
  • It overall induce a feeling of peace and calmness , relaxed state of mind.
  • Rejuvenates the organs above neck
  • Improves the sensory functions.

Can we do it at home?

No we cannot do it at home. The treatment needs a organised set up of table and many other accessories. The synchronized actions of therapist are the key part in treatment which one cannot achieve in home. The favorable and soothing surrounding in therapy room is necessary in Shirodhara to achieve the results  which in home is highly impossible.

This treatment is worth taking time out and get done scientifically under guidance only.

How many times it should be done? How much time it takes for one session?

  • Depending upon the indication or symptoms the Shirodhara sessions can be done for 8 / 10 / 21 days at a strech
  • Psychosomatic disorders need repeat sessions to maintain the dosha balance and to prevent recurrence
  • The healthy being can go for it once or twice a week regularly .
  • A session of 5to8 Shirodhara in every three month interval is also advised in some Vaat dosha dominant or for the persons working under high stress, travels a lot or recovering from chronic nervous illness etc
  • For hair problems once in a week for 4 weeks are advisable.

The time for one session is usually 15 mins and it is gradually increased by 5 mins  every day up to 45mins.

When it is done twice a week or so, the time for shirodhara is generally  30 to 40 mins.

Who are not appropriate to take Shirodhara?

  • Head injury, wound on head
  • Allergic rash or any acute skin disorder of scalp
  • Acute conditions like fever, cough, cold etc
  • Acute condition of vertigo
  • Third trimester of pregnancy
  • Other conditions decided by the doctor on examination.

Many times lac of information or incomplete information , and we miss some wonderful things .In this blog i have tried to collect and put everything about Shirodhara in easy term and language . More queries, inputs are welcome .

( The above write up belongs to the blog author Dr. Rupali Panse . Sharing the blog with the due credit to the author will be considered  a kind warm act.)

Keep Reading Keep sharing !!! Stay Healthy!!!

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