Aromatherapy and Yoga are great natural companions and essential oils are often actively used to enhance the practice.
Have you walked past a yoga classroom and got tantalizing lovely whiff of essential oils? We tend to breathe in deeply, savouring the scent and the effect it has on our mind and body. It can be a genuine pleasure.
Are you wondering which essential oils are best suited for Yoga practice. We were curious ourselves and identified 20 essential oils that are particularly helpful for:
- A calming effect: Rose, Frankincense, Lavender, Ylang-Ylang or Chamomile
- Greater grounding: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Vetiver, Myrrh or Rosewood
- Improved mental clarity: Rosemary, Basil, Sandalwood, Lemon or Eucalyptus
- An energy boost: Ginger, Peppermint, Orange, Thyme or Grapefruit
Read on to find out about the effects of these essential oils work in greater detail, how to best use and apply them, and also essential safety precautions.
The History Of Essential Oils
An Ancient Tradition
Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from the leaves, roots, stems, seeds, fruits and flowers of different plants to stimulate mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Essential oils were widely known and used in traditional cultures, well before the advent of modern science. Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them widely in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs. Amazingly, historical records indicate that the Chinese first used essential oils around 2000-3000 B.C.!
Around the Year 40, the Greek physician Dioscorides first wrote about the healing properties of a number of essential oils. Then, later in the 11th century, the famous physician Avicenna also described different essential oils and their use as medicines.
Does Aromatherapy Really Work?
Until a short time ago, the knowledge about essential oils was mainly based on handed-down traditions and teachings. Science, however, provides increasing evidence on the powerful effects of essential oils. For example, they can be effective against bacteria and viruses, dampen down inflammation, and promote better immunity, mood, and memory.
Surprisingly, scientists have determined that the chemistry of essential oils is similar to that of human hormones. As a result, they can stimulate the release of brain messengers such as serotonin, endorphins and adrenalin. In turn, these directly affect our energy, mood and our state of clarity and calmness.
Overall, the use of essential oils in modern times has become much more common on a day-to-day basis. For example, many of us know about eucalyptus oil and its ability to support congested lungs and sinuses during a fluor a cold. Another well known essential oil is lavender, known to promote relaxation and better sleep.
Aromatherapy And Yoga Are Natural Companions
It’s not surprising that essential oils are often used in the Yoga classroom or home Yoga practice. In combination, aromatherapy and Yoga enhance our practice and help balance mind, spirit and body.
A great example is the use of essential oils during Savasana at the end of Yoga practice. Essential oils can also be used at the beginning of a class to help energize and gain greater mental clarity.
Choose the Ideal Essential Oil to Inspire Your Yoga
So, which are the best scents for Yoga?
We have put together a list of essential oils for you to use in your Yoga practice, depending on what you want to achieve. Do you want to achieve calmness? Grounding? Gain clarity? Energize? Below we describe some of the commonly used essential oils you can choose, depending on what your goal is.
Calming Essential Oils
1. Rose: the queen of oils to help with all stress issues.
2. Frankincense: relaxing and aromatic, anti-inflammatory.
3. Lavender: soothing, builds solidarity and strength.
4. Ylang-Ylang: helps release anger and frustration.
5. Chamomile: calming, soothing, medicinal.
Grounding Essential Oils
1. Cedarwood: mildly sedative, helpful with sleep, promotes connectedness.
2. Patchouli: an antidepressant, promotes the release of serotonin and dopamine.
3. Vetiver: powerfully calming and grounding, stress relieving and promoting good sleep.
4. Myrrh: helps with feeling safe and connected, improves trust in others.
5. Rosewood: allows love to flow to the heart center.
Essential Oils for Increased Clarity
1. Rosemary: promotes mental function and memory, anti-inflammatory.
2. Basil: stimulates the nervous and immune systems, energizes and boosts mood.
3. Sandalwood: beneficial for calm mental clarity, relaxation and peace.
4. Lemon: uplifting to the mind and body, promotes physical energy and purification.
5. Eucalyptus: improves clarity and focus, strong antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Energizing Essential Oils
1. Ginger: maintains energy levels, stimulates nthe ervous system, warming
2. Peppermint: stimulates the mind, supports memory, focus and concentration
3. Orange: uplifting and tranquilizing, anti-depressant, promotes clarity.
4. Thyme: lifts the spirit and energy levels, stress-reducing, strong anti-bacterial
5. Grapefruit: beneficial to reduce mental fatigue, balances stress, an anti-depressant.
Essential Oil Blends
You can easily mix to or three of the above oils to create your very own personal blend, using a few drops of each in a small bottle of carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil. Otherwise, you could choose some of the ready-made blends that promote relaxation and calm.
How To Use Essential Oils
Generally speaking, it is better to use high-quality, organic essential oils wherever possible. Because of their extremely high concentration, only a few drops of oil are used at a time, diluted in a carrier oil or water.
If diluted in a carrier oil such as almond oil, essential oils can be applied directly to the skin. Alternatively, they can be inhaled directly from the bottle or with an essential oil diffuser. Another option is infusing a permeable piece of jewellery.
Overall, just a few small drops are enough to allow essential oils to quickly reach our body via the skin or lungs. Once there, the resulting aromatherapy scents work their effects in subtle ways – both physical and mental.
Automatic oil diffusers work really well because they emit a controlled stream of oil infused steam. Coupled with a timer, this helps avoid the messy business and fire risk of conventional oil burners.
Many diffusers use ultrasonic vibrations to turn water and oil into a scented mist that lasts for hours with minimum fuss.
Yoga And Essential Oils – How To Use Them In The Classroom
Many Yoga teachers like to use essential oils in the Yoga classroom to enhance their students’ practice.
Mostly, the choice of essential oils depends on the objectives of the Yoga class. Check out again the oils we have described above.
Before using essential oils, keep in mind essential safety precautions. These are described in greater detail below.
In addition, it is advisable to seek permission for the use of essential oils in the classroom. In all likelihood, students will absolutely love it, but it’s best to be on the safe side.
Every individual is different in response to essential oils. As a result, essential oils should be used carefully and with appropriate guidance. Importantly, they should always be diluted in a carrier oil or water for use, and not applied directly to the skin. Similarly, it is not advised that they are taken orally unless specifically guided by a qualified practitioner.
In addition, essential oils need to be used with caution around pregnant women, children, as well as pets. In these instances, it is advisable to consult with a qualified practitioner.
Overall, it is best to only buy high-quality, high-grade oils without artificial ingredients from a reputable company. Organically sourced essential oils are always preferable.
Create Your Own Essential Oil Yoga Mat Spray
Did you know that essential oils are a great way to clean and deodorize your Yoga mat?
YogiApproved has a great recipe which is listed below:
- Small spray bottle (2-4 ounces or so)
- Distilled or spring water (3/4 of spray bottle)
- 2 drops of tea tree essential oil.
- 1 drop of lavender essential oil.
- Optional: Witch hazel or white vinegar (fill 1/4 of spray bottle)
Before cleaning your yoga mat, shake your container and spray the entire mat. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe down the entire mat. Next, clean the other side and allow the mat to dry for 5-10 minutes before rolling up again. Repeat as often as necessary! Your mat will smell delicious and give you all the calming effects of lavender.
Overall, aromatherapy and Yoga are natural partners in promoting a healthier, energized, and more relaxed lifestyle. You can choose from a plethora of essential oils. The selection discussed in this article is only a small sample.
There are many websites that discuss the many benefits of the different essential oils in far greater detail.
Essential oils are wonderful and enriching, but their use does bring a few risks and these must be considered carefully.