Essential oils and Yoga are great natural companions. They can truly enhance Yoga practice in different ways, depending on what the objective is.
Based on a detailed evaluation, we have identified 20 essential oils that will give you:
- 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 explore the different qualities and effects of these essential oils, how to best use and apply them, and also essential safety precautions.
The History Of Essential Oils
An Ancient Tradition
Essential oils are a natural part of many plants, including the leaves, roots, stems, seeds, as well as fruits and flowers. They are known to have a wide range of benefits for mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
Essential oils have been around for hundreds and even thousands of years. Ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans cultures used them extensively in things such as cosmetics, perfumes and medicines. 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. Later in the 11th century, the famous physician Avicenna also described different essential oils and their use as medicines.
Does Aromatherapy Really Work?
As described above, the benefits of essential oils have been well known by traditional cultures for a very long time. However, modern science also provides increasing evidence on the powerful effects of essential oils.
For example, research shows that they are able to fight bacteria and viruses, reduce inflammation, and promote better immunity, mood, and memory.
Surprisingly, scientists also have found that essential oils work in a similar way to human hormones. As a result, they can stimulate the release of key hormones such as serotonin, endorphins and adrenalin. In turn, these directly affect our energy, mood and our state of clarity and calmness.
Many people use essential oils in some way. For example, many people use eucalyptus oil to support congested lungs and sinuses during a flu or a cold. Another well-known essential oil is lavender, known to promote relaxation and better sleep.
Aromatherapy And Yoga Are Natural Companions
Have you walked past a yoga classroom and got tantalizing whiff of essential oils?
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 significantly increase energy levels and mental clarity during our practice.
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. Use them to help you achieve greater calmness, grounding, clarity or energy.
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. Just use a few drops of each in a small bottle of carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil. Otherwise, choose a ready-made blend that promotes relaxation and calm.
How To Use Essential Oils
Generally speaking, it is better to use high-quality organic essential oils. Because of their high concentration, only a few drops of oil are used at a time, diluted in a carrier oil or water.
You can apply essential oils directly to the skin if they are diluted in a carrier oil such as almond oil. You can also inhale them inhale them directly from a bottle, or by diffusing them with an essential oil diffuser. Another option is jewellery with some fabric that is able to absorb a few drops of essential oils.
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 oils 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 person responds to essential oils in different ways. As a result, essential oils should be used carefully and with appropriate guidance. Remember that they should always be diluted in a carrier oil or water for use, and not applied directly to the skin. Similarly, they should not be taken orally (through the mouth) unless specifically guided by a qualified practitioner.
In addition, caution needs to be exercised by pregnant women, and around children and pets. Again, consult with a qualified practitioner in these circumstances.
Try to only buy high-quality, high-grade oils from a reputable company and make sure they contain no artificial ingredients. Organic 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)
Start off by shaking the container and spraying the entire mat. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe down the mat. Next, clean the opposite side. 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.