Healing Shirodhara With Poppy and Someday
I first met beautiful and grounded herbalist Kari Jansen from Poppy and Someday at The Spirit Weavers Gathering last year in the forests of Northern California. She was one of the wellness angels who would treat minor ailments at the gathering. I was instantly drawn to her sweet smile and graceful demeanor. I later had the good fortune of taking a workshop on ceremonial fans at her canyon house, where I was blown away by the herbals teas and elixirs she had made. When she went to India recently to further her studies on Ayurveda, I was thrilled to see the fruits of her labor first hand. Many years I ago I posted about my experiences with Panchakarma and shirohdara with Surya Spa. Back then Martha Soffer was one of the only ones using this ancient form of healing, but now it seems the dawn of Ayurveda is here and shining its glorious rays upon us.
Shirodhara is an Ayurvedic ritual dating back to 5,000 years ago that treats a multitude of conditions by gently pouring therapeutic oils over the third eye for a period of time. Shirodhara means shiras (head) and dhara (flow). The steady, rhythmic flowing of oil induces a very relaxed and blissful state of consciousness. It is wonderful for healing the adrenals, calming the nervous system, balancing the doshas and hormones, and boosting the immune system. Kari did shirodhara after abhyanga which is an Ayurveda form of massage that is done in a circular fashion on various marma points on the body that help relive tension and help the system. Marma points in ancient Vedic times seres sen as mystical doors into the body. Touching marma points is akin to the pathways used in acupuncture. They can change the bodies bio- chemistry and allow for healing to occur.
Kari came over one afternoon with her exotic shirodhara set up, and therapeutic oils that had been infused with herbs from her garden. She gave me a session, finishing with tuning forks and then we talked about her travels to India. More with Kari below ~
1) What led you to study Ayurveda?
I was drawn to Ayurveda naturally. It felt familiar to me. Just like the first time I visited India, it so comfortable like I had been there before. I first became a yoga teacher and by trait, began, and loved, studying Indian philosophy. The India Gods and Goddesses and their stories became very fascinating to me. I had already been working as a massage therapist, so the practice of blending yoga and mediation with massage instinctively lead me to study Ayurveda. I love knowledge. Everyday I strive to learn something new and challenge myself to go deeper into the deep and magnificent ancient healing world that is Ayurveda.
2) What are the benefits of shirodara?
Shirodhara at its core is truly calming for any Vata imbalances. Vata is the dosha that governs movement which is air and ether. By nature, this helps with any Vata imbalances, which may be in the form of insomnia, nervous disorder, anxiety, worry, fear, and over work or stress. Shirodhara is a slow constant stream of warm oil on one’s third eye that stimulates and calms the pituitary gland, which is the master gland that controls the endocrine system. The third eye governs our intuition and provides perception beyond ordinary sight. By practice, Shirodhara takes one into a very tranquil, relaxed and meditative state.
3) What makes your spirit sing?
When I dance and are completely lost into my spiral trance. Feeling free and alive with no care in the world.
4) Do you have a favorite herb to take internally or externally for beautifying? T
his is such a hard question. I am in love with so many herbal beauties. At this exact moment my favorite is Lemon Balm. She is so sweet and calming. I grow lemon balm in my garden and put fresh herbs in my water and drink throughout the day. Lemon Balm (or “Sweet Melissa” as she is also known) calms and restores our nervous system. I add Lemon Balm to many of my oil infusions, which I use to give myself an Abhyanga everyday as I believe self care is so important. Abhyanga is self massage. It increases circulation to tissues and is very balancing to our bodies. After ample hydration and Abhyanga, I am glowing.
5) Do you have a morning ritual? Please share.
Yes, My morning ritual is to wake up and drink a big glass of warm water with a pinch of good Celtic sea salt to nourish and hydrate my body. Then I oil pull, swishing oil in one’s mouth, with olive oil to cleanse. Following this, I sit down for a mediation. I always try to do this in my garden as the sounds of birds and the intoxicating smells of my herbal buddies ease my wandering thoughts.
6) Are you a mermaid or forest fairy?
I am definitely a forest fairy. Actually, I have dressed up like a fairy for so many halloweens I can’t even remember. The forest is where I feel most alive and am at peace. My favorite thing to do is to walk barefoot on the soft cool soil.
7) Do you have a mantra or motto you live by?
All you need is love.
8) Where do you see this path of wellness in terms of Ayurveda going?
I have been watching Ayurveda grow rapidly for the last 15 years. I find this very inspiring as it has grown from such a niche, underground practice into something that is now becoming somewhat mainstream. This is so amazing. People are starting to look into the source of illness rather than masking it with a fix, which has always been pharmaceuticals. The ancient knowledge is extremely powerful. It is all about balance, self care and listening to your body. At the end of the day, the one who knows your body best is yourself.