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Shirodhara is an Ayurvedic treatment which involves slowly pouring liquids over a client's third eye, which is located in 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 option on the menu at many high end spas, and it may be bundled 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 range of skin conditions, along with eye problems, stress, insomnia, memory loss, and graying hair. A wide range of liquids can be used, depending on the body type of the patient; oils are common, but milk, buttermilk, and water can be used as well. Frequently, the liquid will be infused with herbs which are tailored to the client.
A traditional Shirodhara session starts with an interview with a vaidya, an Ayurvedic practitioner. The vaidya will determine the patient's body type, and he or she may make recommendations for a range of treatments including Shirodhara. When the interview is concluded, the client lies on an inclined table with his or her palms facing up. Aromatic essential oils are applied to the hands, the nose, and sometimes the feet as well while a gentle stream of warm liquid is run over the forehead. Commonly, the session will include light massage of the scalp, face, and neck.
A Shirodhara session can last up to an hour, and it is usually carried out in a calm room with neutral music, diffused natural light, candles, flowers, and other decorations which are intended to promote relaxation. After the session, the client is gently wiped clean with warm, moist towels and he or she may be wrapped in moist towels and herbs for a gentle moisturizing treatment.
In a spa environment, the focus of Shirodhara is on relaxation, rather than treatment of any specific medical conditions. The client typically remains clothed 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 not usually formulated specifically for the patient, but they usually contain essential oils which are designed to promote a state of calmness. Many spa clients enjoy the relaxing experience of Shirodhara, along with the gentle touch of face and hair.