Ancient healing meets modern neuroscience

Living in the modern world is tough. With competing demands on our attention, pressures to perform, and our desire to support our loved ones and be the best person we can be, it’s no wonder we’re tired and stressed. Couple that with what’s going on in the world and the push to be connected 24/7 and you’ve got a recipe for an overactive and exhausted nervous system.

Ring any bells?

Don’t worry. You’re not alone. We get it. 

That’s why we would like to share with you one of the gentlest, yet most potent Ayurvedic treatments, Shirodhara, a healing practice some 5,000 years old. Shirodhara truly is where India’s ancient healing arts meet modern neuroscience.

So, what is Shirodhara?

Blending the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (stream, or flow), Shirodhara is the gentle, consistent pouring of a warm stream of herb-infused oil onto various energy points on the forehead. The ajna marma, or third-eye chakra, is an area dense with nerve endings that is connected to the pituitary gland, one of the master controllers of the endocrine system, and the pineal gland, which supports nervous function and releases happiness-inducing neurochemicals. This point is sometimes referred to as ‘the door to the soul’ and on the spiritual plane is associated with intuition, wisdom and mental clarity.

As the warm oil pours onto this energy point in a gentle, steady stream, it literally feels as if your worries are melting away and your thoughts are dissolving in a deeply comforting, safe embrace. Through Shirodhara, you experience deep calm and relaxation, and remember the ease and grace that are available to you in every moment.

What does a session look like?

As with all our treatments, Saroj takes you on this journey with a caring, nurturing professionalism which honours your unique situation. Shirodhara can only be undertaken by a skilled practitioner, as the temperature, viscosity, speed and placement of the flow all need to be just right.

To begin with, Saroj will determine your doshic type (the balance of elemental energies within you) by looking at your body type and temperament, aspects of your work and family life and any stresses and challenges you are currently facing. This will affect the blend of oils to be used and the pattern of energy points that will best support your unique constitution and needs.

You will then be treated to a soothing Indian head and foot massage to bring you to a state of relaxation, openness and receptivity in preparation for the Shirodhara ritual itself. 

As you lie back and Saroj begins the Shirodhara, there is nothing to do, nowhere to be, nothing to think about or to plan for. Just be here. You will find that the sensation of the flowing oil is profoundly comforting and deeply relaxing. The warm, gentle stimulation over a period of about thirty minutes returns your nervous system to the safety, serenity and ease of the natural state. 

Afterwards, enjoy the finishing touches that accompany all Prana treatments and step gently back into the world deeply relaxed, calm and replenished. Take your time. There’s no hurry.

How will it help me?

As an experience, Shirodhara brings profound feelings of wellness, peace, mental clarity and inner harmony. It soothes, nourishes and pacifies the elemental energies in the body and mind and leaves you relaxed and restored, as if you had just woken up from a deep sleep.

From a scientific perspective, Shirodhara calms the electrical activity of the brain. It shifts your neurological state from the predominantly beta waves associated with vigilance and psychological tension, to alpha waves associated with calm, relaxed awareness. This state mirrors the relaxation response brought about by deep meditation. 

Gentle stimulation of the nerve-rich points of the forehead cause a steady vibration that brings brainwaves into greater harmony and coherence – which is a scientific reality, not just a nice esoteric vision! This allows the parasympathetic response (sometimes called the ‘rest and digest’ mode) to take over from the sympathetic nervous system that often keeps us in ‘fight or flight’ mode.

Shifting the brain from a beta to an alpha state reduces feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, supports clear, calm decision making, improves creativity, nourishes the nervous system and promotes restful, restorative sleep. When researched in clinical settings, Shirodhara has been found to help with insomnia and other sleep disorders, anxiety, general stress, fatigue, headaches and hypertension. It also helps to balance the mood, reduce brain fog and regulate the sleeping/waking cycle.

We are honoured to be able to share Shirodhara with you. It is a genuinely healing and restorative experience that nurtures your wellbeing at the deepest level by supporting your body’s innate capacity to heal, to restore and to live with inner and outer grace.