Enhancing Yoga with Essential Oils
The popularity of yoga is exploding in the United States. Nearly 15 million people partake of the practice, according to the Yoga Journal. The Wall Street Journal printed that yoga is the fastest growing sport in America.
Is it time to do your yoga practice, but you just can’t get your head in the game? Try shifting your energy with aromatherapy, the art of using an essential oil that has been extracted from plants to lift mood and support healing. Experts say aromatherapy works because your sense of smell connects directly to the limbic system of your brain, which controls emotion.
Like yoga, the practice of aromatherapy strives to support the well-being of body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy achieves its effects through the application and diffusion of pure plant essential oils that influence physical wellness, a positive emotional state and mental clarity. Combining aromatherapy with yoga can powerfully enhance the yoga journey. “When you inhale a beautiful aroma, you get direct access to this primal, governing part of yourself—and you can create a shift on the mental level almost instantaneously,” says Nicole Becker, an Anusara Yoga teacher and holistic aromatherapist.
Three key methods of application are:
* Diffusing – aromatic essential oils are evaporated into the yoga practice space to create an inspiring/motivating mood and to enhance breathing.
* Purifying – essential oils are applied as powerful cleansing agents to wipe down and deodorize the yoga mat or used to clear the atmosphere.
* Anointing – essential oils are used in applications of massage to enhance body stretching and recovery or worn as a scent to support visualization, meditation and focus.
How to use oils in yoga
Yoga teaches that each day and each moment may be completely different in our bodies and minds. Recognizing that we are ever-changing is key, because if we don’t accept what the body is telling us (or asking us) in that very moment, then the essential oil we choose won’t even matter.Using a diffuser during yoga coupled with the gentle release of essential oil aroma, will create a potent ambience during your yoga practice.
Scents That Focus and Center:
- Frankincense – Sacred Frankincense essential oil supports and maintains the appearance of healthy-looking skin, and has a grounding, uplifting, and inspiring aroma. Apply this oil topically to enhance meditation.
- Lavender – Lavender essential oil isn’t just a favorite because of its classic scent—it’s also highly versatile. From skin care products to relaxing routines, this oil can infuse many areas of your life.
- Petitgrain – Petitgrain (Citrus sinensis) is mentally refreshing and emotionally balancing when used aromatically. This oil is also beneficial for skin and hair health. Traditionally, Petitgrain has been used to support a healthy nervous system—particularly with nervous exhaustion and stress—as well as to improve instances of excessive perspiration and oily skin and hair.
Scents That Energize:
- Rosemary – This oil helps stimulate brain activity. It boosts concentration, focus, memory and mental awareness. Being a mood enhancer, rosemary oil is an effective treatment for anxiety, tension, fatigue and depression. Inhaling rosemary oil can help shake off lethargy while stimulating and increasing productivity.
- Lemon – Lemon oil is calming in nature and therefore helps in removing mental fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, anxiety, nervousness and nervous tension. It has the ability to refresh the mind by creating a positive mindset and removing negative emotions. It is also believed that inhaling lemon oil helps in increasing concentration and alertness.
- Peppermint – Studies at the Sense of Smell Institute confirm that peppermint oil has mood-elevating properties that make it useful for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can help to boost your mood and relieve feelings of sadness as well as enhance mental performance and feelings of happiness.
Scents That Soothe and Relax:
- Cedar – Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) has a warm, woodsy aroma that creates a comforting, uplifting experience. Use Cedarwood oil to add its invigorating scent to your life through aromatic and topical uses.
- Orange – A favourite oil used in Aromatherapy is Orange essential oil. It has a fresh, sweet, citrus smell and is a valuable treatment oil for many ailments.
- Sandalwood – Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood (Santalum paniculatum) has a rich, sweet, warm, and woody aroma that is sensual and romantic. TheS. paniculatum tree is native to and found only on the island of Hawaii, where Young Living has a partner farm that practices sustainable reforestation farming management principles. Used traditionally as incense in religious ceremonies and for meditation, this oil is uplifting and relaxing.
BENEFITS OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Vetiver, ginger and patchouli will be grounding and earth-connecting while sandalwood and cedarwood are stabilizing, strengthening and centering – all of these essential oils will help with balance and stability in your yoga poses.
Myrrh, frankincense, eucalyptus and rosemary encourage the flow of energy, self-expression and help you achieve steady, deep inhalations and exhalations. (Mastering your breathing process is as important to successful yoga practice as the poses.)
Lavender, geranium and chamomile are calming and relaxing.
Bergamot, lemon and orange lend a sense of fulfillment and spiritual nourishment to your yoga quest.
Jasmine, ylang ylang, and rose promote transcendence and spiritual expression.
Like any system of self-improvement, the successful practice of yoga requires some motivation and diligence. Yoga is not a boot camp program. Nor is it focused soullessly on the creation of a hard and sexy body. Yoga is a journey to a soulfully balanced body that is properly aligned with mind and spirit. Incorporating the powerfully effective properties of aromatic essential oils – often described as the soul of the plant – into your practice can help you fulfill your journey.
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