Shirodhara comes from the two Sanskrit words “shiro” (head) and “dhara” (flow). It’s an Ayurvedic healing technique that involves having someone pour liquid — usually oil, milk, buttermilk, or water — onto your forehead. It’s often combined with a body, scalp, or head massage.Ayurveda is a holistic health approach that originated in India thousands of years ago. It focuses on rebalancing the life forces, called doshas, within your body.


  • If you’re new to shirodhara, it’s best to work with a professional who’s been trained in Ayurvedic practices.
  • At the start of the appointment, you’ll be asked to lie on your back and relax.
  • Next, the practitioner will heat up the liquid so it roughly matches your body temperature and place it in a bowl. They may hold the bowl over your head or use a stand.
  • Either way, the liquid will gently drip through a small hole in the bottom of the bowl, landing between your eyebrows. Your eyes will be covered with a lightweight barrier for protection.
  • The whole process generally lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. It might involve a massage before or after the treatment

Liquid options:

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a liquid, and preferences vary across practitioners. Others might use different liquids for different effects. Sesame oil is widely used because it’s a relatively neutral oil and mixes well with essential oils, which are sometimes used to enhance the experience. 

Other oils that might be used include:

  • Sesame oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Ksheerabala oil
  • Mahanarayan oil
  • Clarified butter (ghee)

Potential benefits

  • Shirodhara is said to have relaxing, soothing, and calming effects on the body and mind.
  • improve sleep quality
  • manage insomnia
  • lessen anxietyTrusted Source (when combined with yoga)
  • reduce stressTrusted Source
  • Keep in mind that most studies looking at the benefits of shirodhara have been pretty small, using only a handful of participants. Still, none of them suggest that the treatment has any negative effects.