What is shirodhara?

Shirodhara is an Ayurvedic treatment that involves slowly pouring liquids over a client's third eye, which is located on the forehead. It has been used in India for centuries to treat a wide range of conditions, and many spas have adopted Shirodhara treatments for their clients. In the West, Shirodhara is an immensely popular menu item at many high-end spas, and can be paired with other body treatments for a luxurious spa session.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Shirodhara is designed to relax the body and open the third eye. It is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, along with eye problems, stress, insomnia, memory loss, and gray hair. A wide range of fluids can be used, depending on the patient's body type; oils are common, but milk, buttermilk, and water can also be used. Often the liquid will be infused with herbs that are tailored to the client.

A traditional Shirodhara session begins with an interview with a vaidya, an Ayurvedic practitioner. The vaidya will determine the patient's body type, and he or she can make recommendations for a variety of treatments, including Shirodhara. When the interview is over, the client lies down on a tilted table with palms facing up. Aromatic essential oils are applied to the hands, nose, and sometimes feet as well, while a gentle stream of warm liquid is applied to the forehead. Typically, the session will include a light massage of the scalp, face and neck.

A Shirodhara session can last up to an hour, and is usually held in a quiet room with neutral music, diffused natural light, candles, flowers, and other decorations intended to promote relaxation. After the session, the client is gently cleaned with warm, moist towels and may be wrapped with moist towels and herbs for a gentle moisturizing treatment.

In a spa setting, Shirodhara's focus is relaxation, rather than treatment of any specific medical condition. The client generally remains dressed as in therapeutic Shirodhara, unless he or she has also requested a body wrap or scrub to complement the Shirodhara session. Scented oils and herbs are generally not formulated specifically for the patient, but generally contain essential oils designed to promote a state of calm. Many spa clients enjoy the relaxing experience of Shirodhara, along with the gentle touch on the face and hair.

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