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woman receiving facial massage and Ayurvedic ritual of shirodhara

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What is Shirodhara?

Tired, lost, confused, and most of all, anxious? Join the club ya’ll. This ancient Ayurvedic ritual can help you to keep calm and carry on.

Written On 4/25/2022

Shirodhara—sometimes spelled “siro dhara”—is basically one of the most unique and magical spa treatments we have ever tried.

And while you’re probably vaguely familiar with Ayurveda, which is a natural ancient medical system that has been practiced in India for thousands of years, you may not have heard of shirodhara because it simply hasn’t been a BIG THING here in the US, YET that it is. 

So quick refresher on Ayurvedic philosophy: You have three “doshas”—pitta, vata, and kapha—and if they are out of whack, then Houston, we have a problem that can affect your overall mental, physical, and spiritual health. Ayurvedic medicine aims to use herbs and certain treatments, like shirodhara, to get your doshas back in balance so you can live your best life. 

So shirodhara is totally different from say, a plain old massage. Check it: While you lie on a table, a practitioner pours warm liquid (usually an oil mixed with herbs or melted ghee, a type of clarified butter ubiquitous in India) onto your forehead (or “third eye”) for about 30 minutes to an hour. Now you might think, “Wait, why am I paying someone good money to pour oil on my face?” but by the end of the treatment, all you will be thinking about is how freakin relaxed you feel. It’s kind of crazy, but it works.

Bonus: All of that yummy oil gets into your hair for a super hydrating VO5-hot oil treatment style kind of moment, and if you’re lucky, the administrator will give you a scalp massage as well. Bliss.

Many theories as to why this practice instills such a restorative sense of serenity. A more traditional Ayurvedic take is that by pouring this warm liquid directly on your third eye, the brain directly experiences stimulation and spreads this love to your three doshas. Another take: Having someone pour gently heated oil on your forehead is really, really fckn relaxing. Jury is out!

While any Ayurvedic spa near you will probably offer this treatment, we can personally recommend two dope places to get your shirodhara on, both near and far.

Surya Spa

Santa Monica Proper Hotel, 700 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Price starts at $385.

photo of woman in white dress within Surya Spa in front of bottles of treatments

Source: Surya Spa

Shinshiva Resort

Chowra Sastha Temple Road, Kottukal, Vizhinjam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India 695501

Price upon request.

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