Incorporating essential oils into your yoga practice is a great way to maximize the benefits of yoga. I know, it can feel a little out there to think that rubbing a drop or two of some plant oil on you is going to have some tangible effect on your body. However, think about this: before we had modern synthetic based drugs, people cured multitudes of maladies with plants alone.
Scientists who are way smarter than me, figured out how to mimic those plants’ chemical compounds and created drugs that have profound effects on the body, curing all manners of disease. So I ask, why is it so far-fetched to believe those same plant oils, in their purest forms, would not have the same effect now?
In short, its not, it just takes a little getting used to the idea. To be clear, no-one is suggesting you should forgo all modern medicine for essential oils, that would be irresponsible, but why not give it a try and see if you realize any benefits?
The use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes is called aromatherapy. Different oils provide different benefits. Some oils can improve concentration or reduce stress, while others help boost the immune system or improve the quality of sleep.
There are many different oils out there, the trick is to find what works for you. That will depend on what you hope to achieve. Here are a few essential oil basics: for enhanced relaxation try lavender, marjoram or ylang ylang. Conversely, for energy try peppermint, rosemary or wild orange. For focus and concentration, try grounding oils like sandalwood, frankincense and cedarwood.
Now to amp up those benefits try incorporating essential oils into your yoga practice. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:
- Use a Diffuser: Diffusing aerosolizes the oil molecules allowing you to breathe in their benefits. The most safest and most effective method is to use a diffuser which you can find either online or at most stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond. You simply add water and a few drops of oil and hit the start button.
- Topical Application. Basically, you rub a few drops directly on to the skin. Always test for skin sensitivity first, and consider using a carrier oil such as fractionated (fatty acids removed) coconut oil to dilute the oil and cover more of the skin’s surface. Depending on the oil and the desired effect, there are a variety of ways to apply, for instance; rub peppermint on your chest or biceps before sun salutations for an energy boost; for relaxation, massage some lavender into the soles of your feet before final seated and reclined poses, or rub some sandalwood into your hands, cup your hands in front of your face to breath in the scent during the initial breathing exercises at the beginning of class.
- Ingestion. Oils that are safe to ingest, such as lemon, lime and peppermint can be added to your water to sip during and after class. Be sure to confirm the oil you are using is safe for ingestion. Personally, I use doTerra products which carry a supplement label, letting you know they are safe to ingest, unless you see a similar label, do not assume you can ingest the oil.
If you are interested in learning more, I teach Essential Yoga Workshops each month which incorporate oils into the yoga practice, consider giving one of those a try. The yoga is suitable for all levels of experience, the oils are all provided and most importantly, we have a lot of fun.
Here is the link to our Facebook page for more information on yoga and essential oils https://www.facebook.com/essentialyogaworkshop/ or better yet, go to: http://bit.ly/essentialyoga and register to join us sometime.