Lifestyle

What is it like to experience a shirodhara Ayurvedic brain massage?

I heard from a friend during the Everest Base Camp trek about shirodhara and I really wanted to experience this Ayurvedic therapy for myself. After my psychosomatic massage at Palolem Beach I felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to try it before I left for North Goa.

I booked in at the hotel next door and I was excited for the full treatment as I think head massage is really therapeutic. The idea of shirodhara is to balance the mind, by pouring oil onto your forehead into the sixth chakra. It’s said to relieve stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression, all of which I’m extremely familiar with.

The treatment took place in a beach hut which would have have been fine if it were not for the loud conversations taking place outside. This was quite distracting but India is a loud place so you have to accept that to some degree.

The therapist began with a head massage which was my favourite part of the treatment as everyone loves getting their head rubbed. He used herbal oil and water on my hair and it tingled like eucalyptus which was actually quite pleasant.

I could hear the scrunching sounds of my follicles rubbing together while he firmly massaged my head. It’s called a brain massage and it did feel strangely like he was massaging my brain.

He travelled around slightly and did my neck, forehead, ears and my eyelids! I’ve never had my eyelids massaged so that was a new experience. He really went for it rubbing my temples and said that this was very good for relaxing. He especially concentrated on my forehead by making a circle for my ‘third eye’.

The head massage was relaxing and then he prepped me for the oil by placing a cotton barrier above my eyes and placing cotton pads over them. This was when the real fun began as I was effectively blind and then I could just hear the fumbling of them trying to hang the shirodhara bowl off the ceiling fan. It took an unfeasibly long amount of time, or that’s what it felt like when I was lying there. The last thing I saw before I closed my eyes was a hook dangling over me.

They eventually hoisted the bowl and he dropped oil on my head to cleanse the area before getting into the rhythm of a backwards and forwards motion across my head. I assumed that they kept the bowl static but I was wrong. This went on for about half an hour and it did feel relaxing. It did make me wonder how much oil they go through or if they recycle it. You can feel it trickling behind your ears but I think they have a system for catching it and putting it back in the bowl. I think this may have been part of why the set up took so long. I was relieved to get my sight back and at the end I thought I was having a vision but the cotton had slipped and it was just the light switch.

He squeezed out the oil from my hair and as you can see from this picture, it was pretty sodden. I kept the oil in that night to soften my hair which it did to some extent as a nice bonus. It did take about six washes to get it out which is understandable.

I think as part of a relaxing treatment, shirodhara is great but I think to have it alone you have to be a believer. I didn’t have the greatest sleep that night but I did feel happy and relaxed that evening. I think it’s hard to quantify relaxation when you’re on the road, sleeping in hard beds, in a noisy beach hut and drinking alcohol.

I definitely would be up for trying shirodhara again in more relaxing circumstances and I think there’s something in brain massage, something that doesn’t necessarily involve your third eye. I’m sure that Ayurvedic treatments certainly havevsome secrets to tell in terms of our everyday wellbeing.

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