At this point, you have now learned all about the benefits of Shirodhara (Third Eye Treatment) we will now look at the process.
Dating back thousands of years ago, the procedure for a Shirodhara was straightforward and without many complexities. Classical texts state that the oil should be warm and poured on the forehead from a height of four finger lengths (four fingers stacked directly on top of each other) above the Third Eye. Typically, Shirodhara is done in the morning between 7-10 AM with an Abhyanga massage taking place just prior to it. However, it can be done at any point during the day if desired. If a massage is also occurring, it should take place just prior to the Shirodhara. If no Abhyanga is going to transpire, a brief massage of the neck and shoulders should take place. This relaxes the body and opens up the energetic channels located within the area. The Shirodhara oil is warmed and put into a metal or earthen pot, though typically it is made of copper. The oil is heated until it is slightly warmer than body temperature and then poured atop the forehead. The oil should generally be poured for a minimum of 30 minutes. Kapha types generally do not need much – if any – tonification of the body or the mind. If a Shirodhara is given to a Kapha, it ordinarily will be shorter than this standard duration (<30 minutes). Pitta needs slightly more time (30-45 min.), while Vata types require the longest duration (45-60 min.). After the person has received the treatment, a soothing scalp massage is routinely given. To conclude the session, as much oil as possible is removed from the client’s hair and head. The head is then wrapped up into a shawl or cloth bonnet. This keeps any excess oil from dripping onto the person and their possessions, but also serves as an energetic barrier to protect the head for the remainder of the day.
Types of Oil:
There are two main categories of oil being used in Shirodhara: Medicated and Unmedicated. Unmedicated oils are the oils we are generally accustomed to and familiar with, such as coconut, sesame, sunflower, etc. Medicated oils utilize those same unmedicated oils but undergo an additional process of herbal infusion to incorporate the qualities of that herb into the oil. The herbs chosen for a Shirodhara oil are going to be herbs that primarily work with the nervous system and mind. The main Shirodhara herbs utilized in America are Brahmi and Bhringaraj. While there are many others that can also be used. The most accessible herbs offered by Ayurvedic Suppliers are the two previously stated. Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) is one of the most important nervines in Ayurvedic Medicine. It is Tridsoshic (Good for all three doshas) and revitalizes the mind. By medicating the herb in a different oil, you can enhance certain aspects of it, making it more balancing for Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba) is similar to Brahmi but better suited for Pitta dosha. It removes heated emotions and intensity from the mind. Bhringaraj is also rejuvenating for hair. It helps to promote thick luxurious hair and reverse the process of thinning/balding hair.
Below is a List of the Medicated and Unmedicated oils typically used in Shirodhara comparing their Doshic properties, and medicinal qualities.
Chart Terminology Legend: (V- = Vata Pacifying) (VP+= Vata & Pitta Vitiating) (Kn= Kapha Neutral)
Oil: Sesame (V- PK+) Medicinal Quality: Heavy, unctuous, and warming, this oil helps to ground a scattered mind and provides a healthy container for the nervous system.
Oil: Coconut (P- K+ Vn) Medicinal Quality: Heavy and cool, this oil helps to balance a mind filled with sporadic intensity.
Oil: Sunflower Oil (PK- Vn) Medicinal Quality: Light and Cool, this oil is a good choice in the Spring and Summer months.
Oil: Brahmi in Sesame Oil (V- PK+) Medicinal Quality: Rejuvenating and grounding, this oil helps to bring you back to your center.
Oil: Brahmi in Coconut Oil (PV- K+) Medicinal Quality: Calming and cooling for Summertime Pitta.
Oil: Bhringaraj in Sesame Oil (V- K+ Pn) Medicinal Quality: A suitable oil for a Vata-Pitta presentation, such as overthinking with intensity. Also strengthens the hair.
Shirodhara as previously stated is primarily a Vata pacifying practice. As such, it should be emphasized in the Fall/Early Winter Months as this is the time of year when Vata is the most prevalent. During these colder months, and as long as excess Vata prevails, Shirodhara can continue being employed. One treatment per day can be done for a period of one month for a strong medicinal and therapeutic action. One Shirodhara per month is a good frequency for general self-care and Vata reduction. The duration of a Shirodhara Therapy is typically one hour in length. This duration time includes the brief massage of the neck and shoulders prior to the therapy, as well as the scalp massage and the wrapping of the head post-therapy.
Pichu Therapy (Home “Shirodhara” Application)
Receiving a Shirodhara from a practitioner is the easiest, most therapeutic, and most relaxing way to receive this therapy. Due to a limited number of facilities offering this treatment in the US, receiving a Shirodhara may not always be possible. Home application is also not likely, due to the complexity of the procedure and the procurement of instruments/materials. However, a similar therapy known as Pichu (Pee-Chew) has similar benefits and is quite accessible to implement at home. To perform a Pichu, one must simply soak a cloth in warm oil and apply it to the forehead.
- 1/4c Medicated or Unmedicated Shirodhara Oil
- Medium-Small bowl
- Clean Cotton Cloth (12”x12”)
- Mat or Towel
- Paper Towel
- Use Caution while heating the oil so that it feels warm – not hot – to the touch, in a small saucepan on the stove.
- Pour the oil into a bowl.
- Place down the mat or towel to protect your floors from any unforeseen spills or messes.
- Fold your cloth into thirds, then dip the center of the cloth into the oil.
- Lay down on the mat/towel.
- Place the oil-soaked cloth onto your forehead from ear to ear, and press down gently on the center of the cloth/forehead.
- Lay quietly for 10-30 minutes. Feel free to listen to a guided meditation or a Yoga Nidra.
- Remove the cloth and pat the forehead dry with a paper towel
Shirodhara is a simplistic ancient therapy, which has held up against the test of time. As one of the most prominent Ayurvedic therapies practiced currently in the West, Shirodhara possesses many benefits, which oftentimes cultivates a space where the true Self can be remembered. This allows for the exponential development of consciousness to take place, which in turn allows the body and mind to heal. It can be used both therapeutically to treat a condition, or as a preventative measure to ensure your long-term health is given the precedence, it deserves. Shirodhara is similar to a massage in the aspect that while they are not required, once they begin occurring, you start to recognize the health benefits that arise as a result. The effect of this treatment puts you into a blissful meditative state which is soothing to the psyche, and this alone should be enough to warrant receiving one.
Hari Om ॐ To End All Suffering