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July 16, 2022 3 min read
Yoga is much more than just a form of physical exercise; it is a disciplined practice that touches upon the health and well-being of the entire body, mind and spirit. Like yoga, the practice of aromatherapy strives to support the well-being of body, mind and spirit.
They share a common goal–that of naturally, gently, restoring a person’s balance & health. Maybe that’s why they have a long history of working together. Aromatherapy achieves its effects through the application and diffusion of pure essential oils that influence physical wellness, a positive emotional state and mental clarity. Combining aromatherapy with yoga can powerfully enhance your yoga journey.
One way to better understand & cultivate an integrated yoga/aromatherapy practice is to really take a deep look at the plant the oil comes from. Where does it grow? Is it a tree, a leaf, a flower, seed or root? This awareness brings insight into the application of the oil just as knowing the ancient names of the asanas informs the pose...this means essential oils may be associated with different asanas due to their similar effects on our body & the chakras. For example... a beautiful rose oil will enhance the heart opening effect during bridge & backbends, especially during times of stress & grief. The sense of calm and release that comes from both standing & seated forward bends may be promoted with lavender. Invigorating postures such as downward facing dog & inversions may be associated with peppermint oil, which quickly energizes body & mind. For a clear mind and focus, put a drop of frankincense & orange (diluted, of course!) on chest & forehead to inhale during inward poses. Sandalwood, cedarwood and those deep grounding oils are suited for warrior & standing poses. In fact, the wood oils have been observed to encourage better posture, their massive trunks always yearning upwards in a heavenly direction. Imagine borrowing that powerful life force for Sirsasana (headstand), the "King of asanas"! It is fun to experiment & find your own favorites!
Breath is what supports & shapes your asana. When essential oils are inhaled, aromatic molecules are received & registered in the limbic area of the brain, which is responsible for emotion and memory. There are many references to using sacred oils & incense with a yoga or meditation practice. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutra IV.I it is suggested that aspiring yogis may achieve accomplishments with the help of medicinal plants, herbs & incense along with devotional practice, profound meditation & mantras.
Aromatherapy used during a yoga class can inspire, awaken, calm and deeply enhance your mind and body awareness. Aroma evokes memory & emotion & the two are interwoven in our cell tissue. Essential oils influence the whole being. Yoga influences the whole being. Each time you practice yoga, your body responds to the memory of the pose, hopefully in a positive & healing way. The memory of each pose is embedded or stored in the cell tissue. Each time you revisit your yoga mat & practice, your body remembers being in the pose and what it feels like to be in the pose.
To cleanse your space on a broad scale, diffuse essential oils in a diffuser or use a room spray. This is a great way to clear the energy. If you teach a class, this can put your students–& yourself–in a yogic state of mind right when they walk in. Try starting a morning practice by placing diluted Wild Orange oil on your wrists. Inhale deeply. As you work through your sun salutations, you will be able to smell the energizing & uplifting aroma with each pass of your arms.
Like any system of self-improvement, the successful practice of yoga requires some motivation & diligence. Yoga is a journey to a soulfully balanced body that is properly aligned with mind & 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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