Finding Balance Through Ayurveda: My Shirodhara Experience

First: What is Ayurveda?

At first, I could barely pronounce the word, but now, I have a growing obsession with Ayruvedic therapy.

I’m guessing that—unless you’re an ancient therapy guru—you probably have little to no idea what Ayurveda is.  I’ll tell you.

Ayurveda, pronounced eye-yur-vae-duh, is a 5,000-year-old Hindi form of medicine. Unlike our Americanized form of medication, largely dependent on supplements and injections to cure impurities, the Ayurvedic system aims to “balance the body” through diet, herbal treatment, yogic breathing, and massage therapy.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of massage, so naturally, I started my Ayurvedic journey by booking an Ayurvedic massage with Eve at Neroli Salon and Spa in Bayshore.

There are tons of massage services that fall under the umbrella of Ayurveda therapy.  However, my friend Kevin at Neroli suggested I begin with Shirodhara because the service is “literally life-changing” and was described as a treatment for the nervous system.  All right, I’m sold.

Foot-soak-setup-webMy Ayurvedic Service: Shirodhara

My Shirodhara service began with a warm foot soak, which is a common way to begin any Ayurvedic treatment because it essentially primes your body for warmth and relaxation.  During my foot bath, Eve asked me a series of questions to determine my dosha.

I know, you’re probably like um, what’s a doshaTo put it in simple terms, there are three metabolic types—called doshas—all of which are composed from five elements:  space, water, fire, air, and earth.  People are born with one or two predominant doshas.  For example, through answering Eve’s questions (e.g., “Where do you carry tension?” and “Are you often cold or warm?”) I learned I was a vata, comprised of air and space, and needed to balance my dosha by adding warmth to my Shirodhara experience.

So in additional to my warm foot bath, I laid on a warm massage bed and was given with an Abhyanga massage with warm sesame oil.  Abhyanga (ahbee-yong-gah) is a two-handed—sometimes four-handed—massage comprised of swift strokes that balance the energetic centers in the body.

Now, because I’m a runner, I typically go for a deep-tissue massage, but let me tell you, I so appreciated my Abhyanga experience. I swear, every time Eve completed a segment of my massage, my limb felt new, even more alive than my untouched limbs.  I felt an increase of blood circulation, almost as if my body went through a detox.

But it was after the massage when the real magic happened.  I went into a head flow.

Literally.

Shirodhara’s name comes from the Sanskrit word shiro, meaning “head,” and dhara, meaning “flow.”  At the end of the Abhyanga massage, Eve poured sesame oil into a copper pot with a hole in the center, allowing the oil to stream over my third eye for at least a good 15 minutes. This left my entire head of hair soaked in the essential vitamins of the sesame oil.

Sounds like a hair treatment–and it kind of is–but more importantly, this is a mental treatment.  As the oil streamed from my forehead onto my scalp and down through the ends of my hair, I felt any remnants of mental anguish release through the back of my head. It sounds crazy, I know, but that’s because it is.

I left the service feeling a gentle euphoria, finding more gratitude in even the most simple fortunes. I felt invigorated, yet calm. I felt balanced.

If you asked me if I would book another Shirodhara experience, the answer is yes. Although I still love a good deep-tissue massage, I now feel a greater need to book for balance.

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