‹ Back to Blog

What Is “Bliss Therapy”? Exploring Shirodhara

Our Shankara Ayurveda Spa is unique in that it’s one of only a few spas in the United States that offers Ayurvedic treatments. These treatments originated in India a long time ago and have been used for centuries, if not longer to restore wellness and balance. Can you guess which treatment is called “Bliss Therapy”?

It’s a treatment that may be new to you: Shirodhara. The name comes from the Sanskrit works shiro, meaning “head”, and dhara, meaning “flow.” Because of the profound effects shirodhara has upon the consciousness, it’s often called bliss therapy.

Shirodhara is a continuous pouring of warm oil in a slow steady stream on the forehead that helps to pacify the subtle aspects of the doshas. Results include: nourishing the nervous system, promoting relaxation & tranquility, and improving mental clarity & comprehension.


When done in a series as part of integrative approach to wellness, shirodhara can help with various neurological and mental imbalances. The treatment has also been used to treat conditions including eye diseases, sinusitis, insomnia, and certain types of skin diseases like psoriasis.

The benefits are greatly enhanced if they follow a therapeutic massage, or abhyanga, when the body is already relaxed and in a very receptive state. When the body is restless, abyanga is very powerful and grounding; and when the mind is restless, shirodhara is calming. Speaking of Abyhanga, this treatment is one of the world’s oldest massage therapy techniques. It’s a form of Ayurvedic therapy that involves massage of the body with generous amounts of warm oil.
Abyhanga loosens toxins and relaxes the nervous system. It differs from many Western massage techniques in that the pressure is not very deep. Oils used in Abyhanga vary depending on the season and the individual’s constitution. Commonly used oils include sesame, coconut, sunflower, mustard and almond.
Abhyanga can be done as part of the steps of Panchakarma  or as its own therapy. You can also perform Abhyanga on yourself. This is a very grounding, calming practice, especially when followed by a bath or shower.
A specific type of Abhyanga that incorporates hot stones is called Shila. The hot basalt stones are placed on core centers of the body for a deep massage that promotes healing and longevity by releasing tension and connecting the flow of prana (vital energy) throughout the body.
Why are stones used? Stone therapy brings about a relaxing, deep-tissue release and alignment in the body-mind complex. The heat of the stones softens tension and melts away stress and anxiety. As most minerals possess a magnetic quality, the stones also work like magnets. The Abhyanga stones magnetize and extract repressed emotion, depression, and physical pain. These are just a few of the treatments that we’re highlighting this month. If you want to know more about a treatment, please leave a note in the comments section.

Please visit our treatments page to learn more!


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

Sacred Activism

Harmonize self-care with global stewardship and pave the way for regenerative change.
Posted in: