Posted by: Rhett Hatfield | April 9, 2009

How to Give a Shirodhara Part #3: Shirodhara Pot and Stand

How to Give a Shirodhara Part #3 “The Traditional Shirodhara Vessel and Shirodhara Stand”

Composition of the Traditional Shirodhara Pot
One of the most important aspects of a traditional Shirodhara is the Shirodhara pot which needs to be made with great care and understanding.  I am amazed when I see articles on the internet that suggest that a squeeze tube used for basting is an adequate delivery system for Shirodhara instead of a specially designed Shirodhara pot. The traditional Shirodhara pot is actually made of clay much to the surprise of most practitioners.  Yes, a very good pot can be made of copper, brass, silver and even gold but it is said that some liquids used for Shirodhara may not agree with the metals.  This is why many of the most authentic clinics in India still use the clay pots.  However these days many clinics and spas in India have switched to copper or brass or even stainless steel. I myself use both copper and brass and find them both to be very functional and without any problems.

Pictures and text to follow ….

Construction of the Traditional Shirodhara Pot
The original traditional Shirodhara pots made of clay were quite large in volume totaling 5.5 liters but most practitioners these days use a pot with a capacity of approximately 2-3 liters. The sides of the vessel are formed so that the liquid is drawn to the bottom from all sides equally.  A hole is bored in the bottom of the pot and tradition states that the size of the hole should be about the same circumference as the finger of the patient (or the average person in any case).  Strong woven strings or metallic chains are attached to the sides of the pot and the whole apparatus is suspended from the ceiling or better yet a Shirodhara stand specially designed for the process.

Natural Flow Control
A ½ coconut shell of the proper size (usually pretty small) and shape is selected and serrated edges are cut into the edges of the shell and a hole is bored in the center.  Additional flow control is achieved in the traditional method by the addition of plantain leaves that have been first softened by heating and then punctured with holes here and there.  The coconut shell and the plantain leaf combination prevent the flow of the liquid from varying when the pot is moved back and forth and when the liquid is replenished by pouring back into the pot during the treatment.  Different Dhara liquids require different flow control so this ancient system works out quite well.

Note: Modern versions of Shirodhara pots use a valve instead of the traditional method.  Most Ayurvedic doctors would consider this quite improper but the dictates of the modern spa world and Ayurvedic practice outside of India often make use of this time saving and easier-to-use system.  In addition where as most traditional Shirodhara pots are quite wide at the mouth which allows additional liquid (oil in most cases) to be transferred into the top easily, many modern pots are quite narrow at the top.  It is always best to get a pot with as wide a mouth as possible.

The Shirodhara Wick
The purpose of the wick is to provide a surface for the liquid to run down before flowing onto the head of the patient. The wick should be made of a series of soft cotton strings of medium diameter. The strings should be cut to about 12 inches in length so when they are doubled over they will be approximately 6 inches total.  The wick is doubled over and tied to a small stick and then run down though the top of the coconut shell and out the bottom of the pot. There should be four inches extending below the pot and the end of the wick should be placed 2 inches about the head of the patient while lying supine on the droni (table).

(Secret) Shirodhara Wick Trick:
There is an update to the traditional braided strings type of Shirodhara wick for the oil to flow down.  It works like a charm and actually delivers a much better experience since it tends not to clog up so easily.  Take some 2″ or 4″ rolled gauze (you may have to order it since most drug stores have only the pre cut these days) and cut off a piece that is pretty long the first time to experiment with.  Later you will know exactly how long to cut it.  The 2″ makes a smaller diameter wick than the 4″ and it all depends on the side of the hole in the pot.  The twist this piece real tight, fold it and it will magically make itself into a twisted wick of whatever length.  See pictures below with the coconut and the wick combos.

OK, well having said all that here are quite a few pics that illustrate the various kinds of equipment along with some notes.

Droni, Shirodhara Stand and Shirodhara Pot

Droni, Shirodhara Stand and Shirodhara Pot (my personal set up in one of my treatment rooms)

Head of the Droni with drainage for the Oil

Head of the Droni with Drainage for the Oil

In the pic above note that the head rests on a small pillow (oil proof) and lies in the small semi-circular area at the left side of the pic.  The oil flows onto the forehead and then drains out the top through the small gap, into the collecting bowl and then out the bottom into a transfer pot.  An alternate method used by some practitioners is to put a stopper in the hole and then scoop the oil out with a small cup and back into the Shirodhara pot.  I will discuss all the fine points of the technique in a future post in this series.

Copper Shirodhara Pot with Coconut and Top of Wick

Copper Shirodhara Pot with Coconut and Top of Wick

In the pic above notice the serrations that have been cut into the coconut that control the flow of oil towards the center.  The only thing I have not shown here is the addition of the plantain leaves described in the text earlier that offer additional flow control.

Coconut Shell and Wick Bottom

Coconut Shell and Wick Bottom

In the pics below and above notice the use of the gauze that has been twisted as described above in the body of the article.  If I was not using this system I would use the braided strings folded over and tied to the top of the coconut with a small stick.

Coconut Shell and Wick Top

Coconut Shell and Wick Top

Shirodhara Stand with Shirodhara Pot Set Up

Shirodhara Stand with Shirodhara Pot Set Up

In the next post I will cover all the different types of medicines and preparations used in various kinds of Shirodhara Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #4 “Preparations of Medicines”

Since I will be referring to Ayurvedic constitution in future posts you may want to discover your Ayurvedic constitution by visiting this site and taking their ‘dosha test”.

Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #1: “Intro.”
Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #2:
“The Droni (table)”
Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #3 “Shirodhara Pot and Stand”
Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #4 “Preparations of Medicines”
Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #5 “Final Preparations for Treatment”
Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #6 “Traditional Shirodhara Technique”

Please let me know what you are thinking by commenting on this post

rhett


Rhett Hatfield, Owner/Director of Education Body Wisdom School
“750-1600 Massage Therapist Certification Programs, 5 Different Career Tracks.” Create your “custom massage certification program” of anywhere from 750-1600 hours of World Class Massage and Bodywork Education.  CEU Programs available

Find out about the Body Wisdom Career Track Program and our list of Program Electives and CEU Programs

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] #1: “Intro.” Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #2: “The Droni (table)” Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #3 “Shirodhara Pot and […]

  2. […] #1: “Intro.” Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #2: “The Droni (table)” Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #3 “Shirodhara Pot and Stand” Link to How to Give a Shirodhara Part #4 “Preparations […]

  3. hello,
    i’ve been reading your posts regarding how to do a shirodhara. i’ve received some training in the process, but have never heard of using a wick. what is the purpose of the wick? is it okay to do shirodhara without one?
    thank you.
    jennifer

    • Hello Jennifer. Thanks for following my post about traditional Shirodhara. IF you are using the traditional approach, then you would have a pot without a tap or valve. In that case the purpose of the wick is to create a smooth flow and prevent the oil from striking the head from too great a distance the with the ideal being about 2 inches. Most likely you are using a valve system and in that case (although not traditional) a wick would not be necessary. Most traditional docs would not approve of that approach but that is the norm for the most part in today’s modern world. In my next couple of posts I will cover both the traditional application and modern innovations. Hope this helps. Any questions feel free to post here.

  4. […] Read the original:  How to Give a Shirodhara Part #3: Shirodhara Pot and Stand […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: