Part of Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, Shirodhara is the pouring of a thin, steady stream of warm, herb-infused oil onto the centre of the forehead. You lie face up while the oil runs from a copper funnel that hangs overhead; the therapist may move the apparatus so the oil falls in small circles or figures of eight, and the oil runs off your forehead into your hair. (If you can stand to leave it in, it works as a deep conditioner. If not, it’s easier to wash it out if you lather your hair before wetting it).
Shirodhara is profoundly relaxing, and it has taken off in resort spas – it’s the Ayurvedic service most likely to show up as a feel-good treatment. However, purists regard it much more seriously.
Ayurveda holds that the centre of the forehead is the seat of intuition and spirituality and Ayurvedic doctors prescribe Shirodhara for conditions like emotional disorders, migraines and insomnia as part of a closely supervised therapeutic regimen.
Samir Patel, a co-creator of the Taj Spa brand, which draws from Ayurveda and other Indian traditions, says “ We do not offer it as a part of our menu at all for the regular spa users”, it is only for those undergoing programmes of four days or longer.
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