Have you ever been made to ROAR at the spa? Well, as it turns out, yelling at the top of your lungs is incredibly therapeutic. I went for a treatment at Fine Living New York Ayurveda (check out those fun $50 treatments!), and my therapist Shree Panta was one of the feistiest spa ladies I’ve ever met. The face she put on for my photo below speaks volumes. “I like being different,” she said. The things that came out of this woman’s mouth dripped in sass, and one of these things was the instruction let my inner beast out through my lungs. Normally this would disturb other clients (she recommended doing it from a mountaintop next time), but I was the first appointment of the day and luckily, nobody was in yet.
The roaring did feel fantastic, and it segued somewhat sensibly into the main part of my spa treatment: Shirohdara. Shirodhara is an Ayurvedic ritual dating back in India over 5000 years, and was developed to treat a variety of conditions through gently pouring a liquid over the “third eye Chakra” – the middle of the forehead – for an extended period of time. (Get up to speed on your 7 Chakras from this morning’s Chakra Crash Course – some pretty fascinating stuff!)
Fine Living New York Ayurveda is one of the only spas in NYC to devote itself solely to Ayurveda, and they are committed to carrying on Ayurvedic traditions, to showing the next generation the spiritual and wellness benefits of Ayurvedic practice. (Read more on Ayurveda, not to be confused with Aveda.) While more and more spas are offering this treatment added onto more Western services, I was glad to experience the treatment for the first time at a place dedicated to preserving it.
The name Shirohdara comes from the Sanskrit words shiras (head) and dhara (flow). Without knowing much about WHY people do this treatment, you can kind of imagine the soothing, balancing effects of a warm stream of oil enveloping your forehead and scalp for 20 minutes or so. It’s aimed at preserving health, balancing you physically and emotionally, and rejuvenating the spirit.
First, I shuffled my body up towards the top of the table, then Shree covered my eyes. Then, warm sesame oil began to spill from a vessel about 6 inches above my head. On the floor, a bucket collected the oil – In the shower, have you ever leaned back to let the water pellets bean down on your forehead? You know that tingly rush that surges through your body, starting from that invigorating, twitch-inducing point on your forehead? (If not, try it tomorrow.) That’s the point right there – the Third Eye Chakra. But since the flow of oil is gentle, you don’t twitch. You just feel gently caressed, rocked into a state of serenity.
But there’s a name for it. This steady, rhythmic pouring of oil induces a deeply relaxing and blissful state of consciousness called “Turiya” the state of awareness that is neither fully conscious nor deep sleep. While in this Turiya state, you are able to witness and/or release impressions in your conscious and subconscious mind. As you now know, this all makes sense because Third Eye Chakra represents intuition, insights, your psychic abilities, and self-realization. It also has the power to release repressed negative thoughts – which, because of the Turiya, definitely takes place during Shirohdara.
After the ritual, Shree completed the service with a scalp, neck and shoulder massage, along with a full body massage using the very same oils. It was a delicious experience!
However, I would recommend doing it at the end of the day when you can go to sleep with the oils seeping into your hair, wrapped in a towel. Not the brightest idea for me to do this in the AM when I had a date that night – I smelled like a Chinese restaurant and looked like a brunette (gasp!) caught in the rain. A quick trip to the salon did the trick, and my hair appreciated the deep conditioning that is a by-product of Shirohdara.
Fine Living New York Ayurveda
154 West 14th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10011
75 Min Quick-Fix Stress Buster: includes Silk Glove Exfoliation, Ayurvedic Abhyanga Massage and Clean-Up Facial.
Special: $75; Originally: $125