What is Shirodhara
Siro Dhara is one of the most luxurious and relaxation process and can be said as a gift of Ayurveda to the modern stressful world. No Ayurveda advertisement / billboard are complete without this picture of the wonderful treatment. Siro / Shiro is derived from the Sanskrit word of Shira meaning head. Dhara means a continuous flow. Shiro dhara means that a continuous flow of liquid onto the forehead. It is a process under the Dhara Seka / Fomentation process pertaining to head in Ayurveda.
Shirodhara Ayurvedic Therapy Procedure
The ritual / procedure is as such that the recipient of the therapy is first made to sit on the Droni ( massage table) and a thin head band is tied onto the forehead so that the fluid doesn’t trickle onto the eyes. Then the person lies under a dhara patra ( dhara pot) which overhangs above tied on a dhara stand. An Ayurveda therapist also covers the eye of the person with cotton pads to protect the eyes from the sprinkle of the fluid. The base of the dhara pot has an opening through which a thick wick / thread hangs down. This wick acts as the channel through which the dhara dravya ( Dhara liquid) flows continuously onto the forehead of the person.
The medicated fluid could be milk ( ksheeradhara), oil like Ksheerabala, Neelibhrungadi oil or even simple sesame oil, decoctions and with buttermilk ( Takradhara) etc.
From the distance of about 4 to 5 inches above the forehead the lukewarm dhara dravya is made to flow across the forehead from one side of the temple to the other side by the pendulum movement of the dhara pot. The movement should be slow, smooth and without any sound / noise. The therapist gently wipes off the excess oil from the head and hair time to time. This trickled fluid is collected again in a container kept below the head side of the table. The dhara pot is refilled from time to time with the same fluid that is collected below the head stand of the table. The process is repeated for about 30 to 60 minutes depending upon the requirement. It is to be noted that this is an excellent relaxation procedure and people enjoy this therapy more if it is done with some soothing music and dim light. People usually go off to sleep as well during this process.
Extreme care has to be taken once the process is terminated, the head is wiped off with a towel / cloth and the person is asked gently to get up from the massage table and is helped with shower. The head & neck area is washed off with a suitable soap / shampoo to clean the same. A cup of warm herbal tea / green tea could really to make the experience complete.
This beauty of this therapy is that it can be clubbed with Abhyangam ( Full body Oil Massage) or Kizhi 9 Herbal Potli massage) and can yield greater relaxation results.
Now about the benefits of the procedure in general : Shiro dhara is excellent relaxation procedure. It improves the circulation in head & neck area. It is very effective for people suffering from Cervical spondilitis, stroke, hair fall, sleeplessness, stress and strain. It is also effective in people with frontal sinusitis by relieving congestion in the sinuses.
Benefits of other types of Shirodhara
Takradhara is very effective in people with Psoriasis where we can see direct relationship between stress & psoriatic lesions on the body. A couple of sessions with proper medications can yield dramatic results in such people where even the skin tone comes back to normalcy.
Ksheeradhara : It is effective in people with sleeplessness, stress, with scalp issues. It is one of the mildest of Shirodhara where in can be given to persons with sensitive skin. A decoction of Bala root (Sida Cordifolia) is boiled with milk and reduced on a very low flame.
Tailadhara : Shirodhara given with Oil is extremely relaxing to people. It is generally given as a therapy in stress, people having neurologic complaints such as stroke, parkinsonism etc.
When Shirodhara has so much of goodness to offer, a word of caution also comes with it. People who have fever, dizziness, acute eye disorders like cunjuntivitis, acute ear infections should avoid it. This process has to be done under a medical supervision in such cases. It is also not given on a full stomach. Any such dhara / treatments are avoided in ladies during their menses.