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Shirodhara: Ayurveda’s Bliss Therapy

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tells us that “the first step in yoga is to let go, to relax.” A relaxed body will lead to a relaxed mind. Letting go doesn’t have to be difficult, however. It can even be blissful.


One of Ayurveda’s favorite ways to relax and let go is Shirodhara, perhaps the most soothing oil treatment “the Science of Life” has to offer. Shirodhara (Shiro = head and dhara = flow) comes to us from Ayurveda, the 5000 year old system of holistic healing from India. It’s purpose is to reduce stress and induce a state of deep relaxation. Shirodhara has been used to help relieve insomnia, anxieties, fears, stress headaches and other nervous system disorders. Guests normally experience a deep relaxation during the treatment.

Letting go can be a blissful process.

The Process

During the treatment, a thin stream of warm, herb-infused oil (like sesame) is gently poured from a copper pot onto the forehead for a prolonged period of time (about 50 minutes). The trained therapist gently directs the stream over the third eye and other important marma (energy) points found across the forehead. The end result is a state of calmness and deep relaxation — a feeling of balanced rest for the body and mind. It is called “bliss therapy” because of the profound effect that Shirodhara has upon the consciousness.


The benefits of Shirodhara are magnified when when performed immediately after an Ayurvedic massage, or abhyanga. Just as abyhanga calms the restless body and Shirodhara calms the restless mind.

Having recently experienced the soothing effect of a Shirodhara oil treatment at AOLC, one client, E.D., told me, “I wanted it to never end.”


Shirodhara and the Doshas

At the Art of Living Shankara Spa, heart-centered LMT’S (Licensed Massage Therapists), specially trained in Ayurvedic therapies, perform the treatments.  An experienced Ayurvedic master selects an herb-infused organic oil specific to each guest’s mind-body constitution: Vata, Pitta or Kapha dosha.

Shirodhara is especially grounding for Vata types. Depending on your constitution, it can also be an important part of panchakarma, the classic Ayurvedic cleanse for rejuvenating and detoxifying the mind and body. To find out more about the variety of Ayurvedic services that are possible, please check out the Ayurvedic treatments page.

Ayurveda shows that you can make letting go a blissful process.  

Experience deep relaxation and tranquility as you learn how to let go. For learning to release from a spiritual perspective, check out this video of Sri Sri on “Letting Go and Holding On.”


(Note: Special thanks to Medha Garuda, Ayurvedic Programs Coordinator at AOLC, for her kind assistance in preparing this blog.)

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


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