Does shirodhara really help to soothe your mind and body? Shirodhara-Vessel-Kupfer-messinghahn

Practised for over 5000 years, shirodhara is an amazing, unique body therapy from the ancient natural medical system Ayurveda that involves gently pouring oil (or other liquid) in a continuous stream over the forehead (‘ajna marma’- an area where nerves are highly concentrated). It can be administered as a one of the steps involved in Panchakarma or an isolated treatment. It originates from India and its name derives from two Sanskrit words: shiro and dhara. Shiro means head and dhara means to flow.

The pressure of the oil onto the forehead creates a vibration. As the oil saturates the forehead and scalp, it penetrates into the nervous system. For this reason, shirodhara has a profound impact on the nervous system. The treatment directly and immediately calms, relaxes and has a cleansing effect on the mind and nerves. Through this process, it soothes, nourishes and pacifies the doshas. Manjot told me that: “When the warm oil is being gently poured on your forehead, it induces a deep state of relaxation, soothes the nervous system, stimulates the endocrine system and awakens the third eye.” The gentle pressure and soothing warmth of the oil allows the body, mind and nervous system to experience a deep state of rest. This deep state of rest is similar to meditation.

According to Ayurveda, shirodhara is beneficial for pitta and vata doshas. When out of balance, pitta dosha exhibits as anger, irritability, frustration, and judgment. Out of balance vata dosha exhibits as fear, insecurity, worry, and experiences racing thoughts.

Preparing for a Shirodhara Appointment

  1. How to Get a Great Shirodhara: Seek out a qualified Ayurveda practitioner or trained therapist for the therapy.
  2. Scheduling the Appointment: When scheduling an appointment for shirodhara, keep in mind that you may need additional rest following the treatment.
  3. Dressing Appropriately and comfortably: You want to lie down and relax during the treatment, so wear something comfortable and loose fitting. In addition, remember that your hair will be saturated with oil. I suggest wearing an old shirt, something you don’t mind getting oil on.
  4. Eat Lightly prior to the treatment: Shirodhara has an effect on the digestive system and a full stomach is not advised. Therefore, I advise you to eat lightly before your appointment or if you can, don’t eat for a few hours before the treatment.
  5. Cover your head after the treatment: Prepare to cover your head following the treatment. If the weather is cool, windy or cold, bring an old warm hat, again something you don’t mind getting oil on. An old scarf works well to cover the head and hair in warmer weather. A plastic shower cap also works well once you are home.
  6. Avoid unnecessary stimulation: Shirodhara cleanses the mind and senses. Make use of this time and avoid unnecessary stimulation after your treatment. Avoid large crowds (concerts, restaurants/bars, large gatherings) and make the remainder of your day peaceful. This is your time for mental rest.
  7. Leave the oil for as long as possible: It is advised to leave the oil in your hair for at least a few hours following the treatment. Manjot told me that it is best to leave the oil in your hair overnight however, I did not follow this advice as I didn’t want oil all over my pillowcases.

What is it like?

After a vigorous head massage that stimulated every hair follicle in my head, Manjot instructed me to lie on my back and positions my head under the oil “fountain”- a metal pot with a slow-flowing spout. I closed my eyes as Manjot reassures me it will act like a balm on my constantly buzzing mind and bring a sense of clarity to my thoughts. She cocooned me in warm towels and asked, “Ready?” I nodded. I felt more gentle massaging as the warm oil poured onto my forehead and ran through my hair. When the pot ran out, Manjot added more oil. During these interruptions I realised that I was enjoying the entire experience; it was divine.

At home, instead of my usual rushed self, I felt time flowing at my pace. Perhaps the treatment has nourished my soul, as well as my scalp.

 Post-Shirodhara Tips

  1. Washing your hair: If your shirodara treatment was done with oil and you have a lot of hair, Manjot told me that the easiest way to remove the oil is to add the shampoo to your hair before adding water. The shampoo will grab hold of the oil so it can be easily rinsed out.
  2. Avoid Caffeine For A Few Days: Caffeine creates disharmony in the body. It disrupts all of the doshas and will have an immediate negative effect on your nervous system. Luckily for me I do not have a caffeine addiction but if you are in need of a pick-me-up try a fruit juice or a piece of fresh fruit.
  3. Enjoy Some Kitchari: Kitchari is a light and delicious stew that is highly nutritious and also easy to digest. Manjot advised me that enjoying kitchari post-shirodhara will assist in the cleansing process and help maintain the balance of the doshas so when I got home from my treatment I made a large pot of Kitchari. It was delicious and a great way to relax and treat myself to something wholesome and nourishing after my treatment.

Benefits of Shirodhara

It is said that Shirodhara is a great treatment for a compromised nervous system.

  • Promotes deep relaxation.
  • Balances one’s energy level.
  • Increases immunity.
  • Renews and reinvigorates the body and mind.
  • Relieves stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia through natural serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin release.
  • Relieves tension, worry, fear, headaches and depression.
  • Relieves hypertension.
  • Maintains good health.
  • enhance well-being, clarity, a sense of calm and immunity.
  • Regulates mood and gives feelings of pleasure and relaxation.
  • Helps mental focus and concentration.
  • If you are in need of rest and relaxation, the process will provide you that.
  • If you are well rested the process will enhance your clarity and perception.
  • Balances vata dosha.
  • Stimulates the 3rd eye and crown chakras, and awakens intuition and inner wisdom.
  • Assists with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), jetlag and hypertension.

Who Should NOT Have Shirodhara

Shirodhara is suitable for any dosha or constitution however there are some contraindications. It should NOT be given:

  • To women in their third trimester of pregnancy.
  • To those with a rash or sunburn on the forehead or scalp.

Other contraindications* include:

  • Brain tumor
  • Recent neck injury
  • Abrasions or cuts on the head
  • Fever/chills
  • Acute illness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe weakness
  • Exhaustion, fainting or spontaneous sweating

If you have an aversion to oil then it is also not recommended for you.

* A contraindication is a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment due to the harm that it would cause the patient.

Getting back to the original question posed: Does shirodhara really help to soothe your mind and body? Why not try it and find out for yourself?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Is there something you’d like to add? Have you had this treatment and what was your experience like? Join us in the discussion!



P.S. This post is part of my Ayurveda series, if you found this post interesting, please check out some of my other posts in this series: Being healthy in AyurvedaOil Pulling and Tongue Scraping, Abhyanga & Skin Brushing, and Pinda Sweda.


Abhyanga & Skin Brushing

Skin Brushing 

Benefits-of-Dry-Skin-BrushingThis Ayurvedic technique requires a very small-time investment, but has many benefits such as: shedding dead skin cells (and encourages new cell renewal), resulting in smoother and brighter skin. It can also help with ingrown hairs and assist in improving vascular blood circulation and lymphatic drainage.

Dry brushing can be done daily, preferably in the morning before showering. Using silk gloves or a dry skin brush, start at the feet and work your way up to the crown of your head. If using a dry skin brush, start with a gentle brush and soft pressure and work up to a firmer brush and apply firmer pressure over time. Brushing toward the direction of your heart drains the lymphatic system and can help the body move waste more quickly while stimulating the burning of fat. For added benefit, this technique can be practiced preceding self-massage.


Self-oil massage, or abhyanga, helps calm the mind and nervous system. Daily abhyanga is especially important for Vata types, as it helps alleviate dry skin that is often a result of Vata imbalance. Massaging your body can soothe the entire nervous system and emotions. Abhyanga, when performed daily, enhances balance in the energy bodies and overall longevity, releases toxins, calms the nervous system, increases circulation, softens skin, stimulates nerve endings, and tones muscle.

How to Perform Abhyanga:

1)    Heat the abhyanga oils to a pleasant temperature, the oil should always be applied warm to the body.

2)    Place a small amount of warm oil in the palm of your hand for each point listed below (using small amounts will help you avoid feeling too oily).

3)    Now start applying oil to your head gently massage the oil into your scalp using fingers and palms (if you do not wish to put oil in your hair, simply skip this step).

4)    Apply oil to face and neck, front and back, and the outer parts of your ears.

5)    Massage the arms, using a back-and-forth motion over the long bones and a circular motion over the joints.

6)    Use a circular motion to massage over the heart and a clockwise motion over the abdomen.

7)    Massage the legs, using the same long motion over the leg bones and a circular motion over the joints.

8)    Last but not least, massage the feet. Take your time doing this since the feet contain many important Marmas (pressure points according to the principles of Ayurveda) if massage properly can boost circulation. While massaging your feet make sure to apply oil to the entire foot (i.e. between your toes). Use your palms to massage vigorously back-and-forth over the soles of your feet with firm pressure.

9)    After massaging is complete allow for the oil to marinate into your skin while you sit quietly for 15-20 minutes so that oil is deeply absorbed by your skin. You can also meditate or perform other Dinacharya (such as Pranayama- breathing exercises). Once the oil has absorbed, follow with a warm bath or shower.

When Abhyanga Massage Is Not Recommended

  • During the menstrual cycle: Ayurveda does not advise massage with deep pressure during the menstrual. During massaging the body can initiate a release of ama (toxins) at a time when the body is already a bit burned.
  • During Pregnancy: Massaging during pregnancy is not a good idea to stimulate any type of detoxification process. This is for the precaution to protect the growing embryo and fetus, as massage may risk it or cause unnecessary exposure to a ama.
  • During Injury: When you have injury, cuts, wounds, swollen or painful areas in the body it is generally not recommended.
  • During Illness: During any type of sickness such as fever, chills, flu or acute indigestion or taking some medication for certain illness.



P.S. This post is part of my Ayurveda series, if you found this post interesting, please check out some of my other posts in this series: Being healthy in AyurvedaOil Pulling and Tongue Scraping, Shirodhara, and Pinda Sweda.

Om Shanti

Day 8- 6/10: Jhinu to Tolka (16.94 kms)

The Chakras

Hey Natalie, why am I hearing about the chakras a lot lately?

Lately, the concept of a mind-body-soul connection has become more popular and accepted within many ‘Western’ cultures, but it has been a governing philosophy in many Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Let me take you back a step first…

What are the chakras?

There are many powerful energetic centres located in the human body, and they are most commonly referred to as “chakras”. This Sanskrit word originated in India, and literally translated, means disk, vortex, or wheel.

In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, the chakras are said to draw energy from the world into our bodies while simultaneously sending energy from our bodies out into the world, connecting us to our environment on a deeper level.

Although our bodies consist of a number of energy centres, we tend to focus on the seven major chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. Each chakra comprises of energy relating to specific life lessons and experiences, and each one is associated with a particular element and colour based on the frequency of vibrations (please see below).

To visualize a chakra in the body, imagine a swirling wheel of energy where matter and consciousness meet. This invisible energy, called Prana, is vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.

What are the 7 major Chakras and what do they do?

RootThe Root Chakra

Functions: Safety, grounding, right to live



SacralThe Sacral Chakra

Functions: Emotions, creativity, sexuality



Solar PlexusThe Solar Plexus Chakra

Functions: Will, social self, power



HeartThe Heart Chakra

Functions: Compassion, love, integration



ThroatThe Throat Chakra

Function: Personal truth, etheric, expression



Third EyeThe Third Eye Chakra

Functions: Extrasensory perception, intuition, inspiration



CrownThe Crown Chakra

Functions: Wisdom, transcendence, universality



Why am I writing about Chakras?

Well, I am currently on my last few days of trekking in Nepal (See: Jhinu to Tolka if you want to find out where today’s inspiration came from) and it is my belief that not only is hiking good for the physical body, mind, and spirit but also for our chakras. This is because each chakra also relates to a sense and an element:

  • First chakra (Root) = smell/earth
  • Second chakra (Sacral) = taste/water
  • Third chakra (Solar Plexus) = sight/fire
  • Fourth chakra (Heart) = touch/air
  • Fifth chakra (Throat) = hearing/sound
  • Sixth chakra (Third Eye)= “sixth sense”/light
  • Seventh chakra (Crown) is off the body and unrelated to the sensory world, so it has no associations, except to pure consciousness.

Therefore, when you are hiking you are stimulating all your senses (smell, sight, touch, sound, and taste- as taste and smell are strongly linked- or so my friend, who is a scientist, tells me). You are also connecting with the earth with every step you take, fuelling your body with water, filling your lungs with pure fresh air (most people hike in pristine locations not dirty, polluted ones), indulging in the sounds of nature and exposing your bare skin and eyes to light. I cannot think of a better way to heal and awaken your chakras.




Wednesday 12th- Treatment 5

Just like the best journeys have no true beginning or end, neither should the relationships we forge along the way- Unknown

Today was bittersweet. It was my final treatment which not only included my usual Pinda Sweda but also a Shirodhara and Reiki treatment. The good (the treatment and chatting with Manjot about my life) comes with the not-so-good (the finishing of the treatments and not seeing Manjot for a while).

However, reaching a new point means letting go of what’s come before. So, I thoroughly enjoyed my final treatment and our final chat (for now) and prepared myself for my farewell.

As I hugged Manjot I said to her “It’s not goodbye, just cya later.”  We both smiled and I knew that it was true.

Namaste, Natalie


Tongue scraping & Oil Pulling

Tongue Scraping

“Hold on what do you want me to do…. scrape my tongue?” I guarantee you, do it for one week and you will never quit. It is like brushing your teeth. Once you start, your mouth just doesn’t feel clean without doing it.

Tongue scraping, or Jihwa Prakshalana, is said to remove ama, which is digestive impurities (the result of incomplete or inefficient digestion). It is important to remove ama as it is toxic and if it isn’t removed, it will be reabsorbed by the body.

Here’s How to Scrape Your Tongue:

  1. While there are professional tongue scrapers out there, I prefer the front of a large flat spoon. I’m not sure if the spoon I use is silver but if you are using a spoon, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend a silver spoon (Silver is known for its antibacterial properties.)
  2. Relax your tongue so that the scraper contacts maximum surface area, and place the scraper as far back on your tongue as comfortable. Gently yet firmly, scrape the entire surface from back to front.
  3. Rinse the scraper well with hot water after each use.
  4. Repeat this process 3-5 times, until your tongue looks clean, and pinkish or red in colour.


Oil Pulling

This practice has been an aspect of Dinacharya for thousands of years, and involves swishing oil, such as coconut, sunflower or sesame, around your gums and teeth for 2-20 minutes each day, typically in the morning. Oil pulling is effective in removing toxins and parasites, which reside in between your teeth, around the tongue, and on the gums. This simple routine involves swishing (not gargling) one tablespoon of oil in your mouth for as long as it feels comfortable.

While I find any longer than 5-6 minutes excruciating, I continue to do this practice for as long as I can because I know that it draws out bacteria and has been shown to promote healthy gums and teeth and reduce tartar build-up.

Embrace oil pulling as part of your daily teeth-cleaning routine, and remember these few things:

  • Swish the oil gently. If your jaw or mouth starts aching, slow down.
  • Avoid swallowing the oil throughout the process.
  • Once you are done pulling, spit the oil in the garden or into the bin. Do not spit it in the sink as over time the oil may clog pipes.
  • After spitting, rinse your mouth with warm water before consuming any beverages.




P.S. This post is part of a sequence of posts that starts with Being healthy in Ayurveda, if you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda or ways in which it promotes good health and general wellbeing, please click on the links provided: Shirodhara, Abhyanga & Skin Brushing, and Pinda Sweda. Enjoy!


Being healthy in Ayurveda

flowerspinkAccording to Ayurveda, someone who is healthy has all three Doshas in balance, a wholesome appetite, strong digestion, all body tissues functioning favourably, regular excretion, and their mind is in a state of bliss, in tune with the spirit.

There are many ways in which you can begin to balance your Doshas, one way is obviously through the food we eat but another way is engaging in a regular routine of looking after your health and wellness of your mind, body, and spirit.


That daily routine is called Dinacharya. Below I have simply listed the steps in an Ayurvedic daily routine. If you are just starting out I recommend trying to implement just 1 or 2 of these steps and establish a good routine before taking on any more steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed and then giving up altogether.

Dinacharya: Your Daily Yogic Routine

The Ayurveda practice of Dinacharya, or “law of nature,” consists of daily self-care routines, which provide structure for instilling balance and establishing cohesiveness in the physical, mental, and emotional bodies.

1. Wake up in the morning before sunrise.

2. If easy and natural… eliminate: empty bowel and bladder. Don’t strain. Ayurveda never wants us to resist healthy natural urges, or strain by trying to force them. If you have trouble emptying your bowels every day, you can always try these reflexology points to help you naturally and easily relieve minor/ temporary constipation.

3. Wash your face and splash cold water in the eyes. Our eyes work very hard all day and they tend to accumulate a lot of heat. Splashing a bit of cold water into each eye in the morning helps to cool, soothe, and relax the eyes, but also helps us to feel more vibrantly awake.

4. Scrape your tongue (yes, I know it sounds revolting and it is gross but now, 9 months in, I can’t stand not doing it first thing in the morning as my mouth feels so much better for doing it). Please see my Blog “Tongue Scraping & Oil Pulling” for more information on how to do this.

5. Oil pulling (once again it is something that takes some getting used to but once you get used to it, it is addictive). Please see my Blog “Tongue Scraping & Oil Pulling”.

6. Rinse mouth thoroughly and brush your teeth.

7. After this is a good time to drink a cup of water.

8. Skin brushing. Please see my Blog “Abhyanga & Skin Brushing” for more information on how to do this.

9. Perform Abhyanga- warm Ayurvedic oil self-massage- which oil to use depends on your Dosha. Please see my Blog “Abhyanga & Skin Brushing”.

10. It’s best to wait 10-15 minutes for the oil to soak in between your massage and shower. If you don’t have time, immediately jumping in the shower is OK.

11. Shower using warm rather than hot water.

12. Perform Yoga Asanas (poses/ postures) and Pranayama (breath work).

13. Practice Meditation starting with just a few minutes each day and working up to twenty minutes.

14. Eat a light breakfast.

15. Then… work or school- you are ready to do this

16. Make your biggest meal your lunch.

17. Go to bed early.


The above are only a select few options on the full menu of Dinacharya offerings. Obviously, you will already be doing some of the things listed above and won’t need to add everything to your routine. Try one or try all the offerings. I suggest taking on adopting one or two practices to start with and continue to build your routine. The adoption of two Dinacharya-inspired changes can make a difference when enveloped into your day-to-day routine. For example, since January I have implemented oil pulling and tongue scraping into my daily routine and my mouth is thanking me for doing so! We are all works in progress and I continue to work towards building other practices into my daily routine.

The implementation of a personal Dinacharya ritual can serve as powerful and effective insurance for physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing.

I hope this has been helpful.  🙂



Two Monks and a Maiden

One day, two monks set out for a temple in a valley beyond the woods. While cutting a pathway through the woods, they came across a choppy stream they needed to cross. There, stood by the bank of the stream, was a beautiful young maiden dressed in silk. She was clearly at a loss as to how to cross without getting muddy and wet.

So, without thinking twice, the elder monk gestured to pick her up. Shocked, she obliged. He put her over his shoulder and waded across to the other side. The younger monk, dismayed and uneasy at what he had witnessed, followed in tow.

Upon reaching the other side of the bank, the elder monk put the maiden down gently. The maiden paid her respects and walked on. The monks then continued on their way to the temple.

As they navigated through the forest, the younger monk, still troubled by what he’d seen, asked, “How could you do that? We aren’t even supposed to make eye contact with women, let alone pick them up and carry them!”

Without a thought, the elder monk turned to the younger monk and said, “Oh, are you still carrying her? I put her down when I reached the other side of the stream”.

And with that, the elder monk turned and continued leading the way through the forest, leaving the younger monk to contemplate his words for the remainder of the journey.

–       Author Unknown


It is very interesting to me that the lesson of ‘letting go’ has come up in my Ayurveda sessions. As you might recall, I wrote about this in an earlier post ‘Life Lessons’ where I admitted that letting go is one of the hardest lessons for me. I am so glad that it has come up again as it is another reminder that it is an area in my life that I need to spend some more time developing. After all, if we are holding onto yesterday’s actions, it will affect today’s progress. Thinking and worrying about what we did or didn’t do, should or shouldn’t have said or done cannot change the past. Beating ourselves up over past wrongs cannot make them right. Instead, we need to forgive ourselves, try to make amends with the people we have hurt, and move on with life the best we can. Well at least that’s what I want to do as life is short and the only way to enjoy it is to live in the present moment.


Tuesday 11th- Treatment 4

“Don’t let the darkness from your past block the light of joy in your present. What happened is done. Stop giving time to things which no longer exist, when there is so much joy to be found here and now.” – Karen Salmansohn

Today I felt like my mind was defragmenting. I just let it all go.

The practice of letting go is used to support our acceptance of the way things are, and I believe it’s a cornerstone of creating a happy, full life. Learning to let go of the things that are not serving you will free up energy and resources and you will begin to reap the benefits of a grateful, joyful life.

I feel that I am now on the road to a grateful, joyful life.


Namaste, Natalie

P.S. Click here if you would like to read about Treatment 5. Otherwise click on the next button below to read a story that relates to my 4th treatment.


The Two Wolves


An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for love, joy, peace, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person too.”

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”

–       Author unknown


What wolf are you feeding?


Namaste, Natalie


Monday 10th- Treatment 3


“Love is a choice. Fear is a default. Choose love and overcome fear.” – Manjot


I didn’t write this post immediately after my treatment as I have been pondering this idea for a few days.


Do You Love, or Do You Fear?

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon


If you remove all your fears- every one of them- how different would your life be? Think about it. If nothing stopped you from following your dreams, your life would probably be very different.

In the English language we have many words to describe the emotions we experience in our lifetimes. But deep down there are only two emotions: love and fear. Or should I say love or fear since the two can’t coexist. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear anger, hate, anxiety and guilt are fostered.

According to Manjot (and the Karmic law: The Law of Focus), we have to make a decision to be in one place or the other. There is no neutrality in this. If you don’t actively choose love, you will find yourself in the ‘default’ of either fear or one of its component feelings. In difficult circumstances when our commitment to love instead of fear is challenged, we must choose love otherwise the choice will always be the alternative; fear.

Even when you choose love, it doesn’t mean you will never fear again but you are one step closer to healing old wounds and chasing your fears away.

Whatever one puts out into the Universe will come back to them. Love tends to breed more love, and fear tends to breed more fear because like attracts like. It’s really up to you.

How about you, do you love, or do you fear? You can share your insights and join the conversation by clicking on the comment link.




P.S. Click here if you would like to read about Treatment 4. Otherwise click on the next button below to read a story that relates to my 3rd treatment.