Using Essential Oils to Enhance Your Yoga Practice

The word yoga means yoke or join: the union of body, breath, and mind. We connect with our bodies through the Asana, or poses–the physical movements. Our breath is our life force, or Prana, and in most practices the movement is connected with breath. For example, you may hear a teacher say, “Inhale, sweep up. Exhale, forward fold.” Some yoga classes may include pranayama, or breath work, with various exercises to bring more awareness and effectiveness to the breath. Which brings us to the final part of the triad–the mind. Patanjali’s yoga sutra 1.2 states, “Yogash citta vrtti nirodha: yoga is the cessation of the modifications, or fluctuations, of the mind.” This is one reason classes often start with a period of setting space, when the teacher will encourage you to “let the day go, and turn inward” or use some other mindfulness/meditation strategy.

Despite our best intentions and efforts, it can be really hard
to keep the mind still! Family, work, never-ending to-do lists, stress,
emotions, and just plain living can keep that “monkey mind” hopping! Essential
oils can be a useful tool to calm and focus the mind to enhance your yoga
practice.Yoga breathing is generally in and out through the nose. Inhaling
through the nose activates the olfactory system as we take in the smells around
us. The scents are processed by the limbic system, the emotional center, and
the effect can be immediate.

*Oils with calming properties are great to use when you are
feeling stressed, or to help you relax even more in a restorative practice. You
may already be aware of Lavender for relaxation. (I love to put a few drops of
lavender oil on an eyebag to wear during savasana!) Clary Sage, and Roman
Chamomile (think tea!) are also known for their relaxing qualities. Bergamot is
a citrus that is both calming and uplifting, which may mitigate feelings of
stress while simultaneously uplifting mood. Ylang Ylang is another oil that can
be both calming and uplifting. Petitgrain comes from the bitter orange tree,
and has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Try combining Petitgrain
with Lavender and Bergamot. Vetiver has a rich earthy aroma that can be
grounding as well as calming. If you are a gardener who finds peace playing in
the dirt, you will love Vetiver!

Some days, we all but drag ourselves to our mats, and a little
energizing would be helpful. Most notable oils in this category are
citrus–such as Lemon, Wild Orange, Tangerine and Grapefruit– and mints like
Peppermint and Spearmint.

One way to use essential oils is with diffuser jewelry. This can
be a necklace or bracelet with a porous bead which absorbs a drop of essential
oil, subtly releasing the aroma. (Hippie Yoga has a nice selection of diffuser
jewelry from Kitty Deluxe.) You can also place a drop of essential oil on the
inside of one wrist, and rub both wrists together. If there is still some
excess, you can rub it on your chest over your heart and/or behind your neck.
This is a good method if you are applying oil right before practice, so you
don’t have oily hands slipping on your mat! When using essential oils
topically, test a small amount for skin sensitivity, or combine with an
unscented lotion or fractionated coconut oil. CAUTION: citrus oils can cause
photosensitivity of the skin when applied topically, so use with caution in
sunny weather. Keep all oils out of the eyes.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug
Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or
prevent any disease.”

In addition to being
a teacher at Hippie Yoga, Linda is a doTERRA Wellness Advocate and avid user of
essential oils as an integral part of her healthy lifestyle. She is also
trained in AromaTouch Technique, which involves application of essential oils
along the spine and feet. This service can be booked in the Wellness Room at
HIppie Yoga.
For the month of July
Linda will be offering a free essential oil consult with a private yoga
session.  Prior to your session she will select oil(s) for your
practice, providing you with a sample to take home.

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