The popularity of yoga is exploding in the United States. Nearly 15 million people partake of the practice, according to the Yoga Journal. The Wall Street Journal printed that yoga is the fastest growing sport in America.
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. The familiar bending and stretching exercises (or asanas) are just one of many interrelated practices that connect and align all aspects of the practitioner into a state of complete balance. (Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means to yoke, or join together.) Other aspects of this yoking process include breathing, withdrawing the focus from the outward to the inward, meditation, purification and the rejection of violence, greed and jealousy, to name just a few.
Like yoga, the practice of aromatherapy strives to support the well-being of body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy achieves its effects through the application and diffusion of pure plant essential oils that influence physical wellness, a positive emotional state and mental clarity. Combining aromatherapy with yoga can powerfully enhance the yoga journey. Three key methods of application are:
* Diffusing – aromatic essential oils are evaporated into the yoga practice space to create an inspiring/motivating mood and to enhance breathing.
* Purifying – essential oils are applied as powerful cleansing agents to wipe down and deodorize the yoga mat or used to clear the atmosphere.
* Anointing – essential oils are used in applications of massage to enhance body stretching and recovery or worn as a scent to support visualization, meditation and focus.
Tom Havran, product formulator for Aura Cacia gives these tips for enhancing yoga practice with the power of essential oils.
Diffuse essential oils during your yoga session with a candle lamp. Candle lamps consist of a bowl of water over a small tea light-style candle. Just add six to 10 drops of essential oil to 1/4 cup water in the bowl, and then light the candle. The flickering flame, coupled with the gentle release of aroma, will create a potent ambience during your yoga practice. Oils to consider: tangerine and peppermint are inspiring and motivating. Eucalyptus and cypress open the breathing process. Sandalwood and vetiver are grounding and strengthening.
Create a purifying mist that doubles as a yoga mat cleanser and room deodorizing spray. Combine 12 drops of sweet orange, six drops of tea tree and six drops of lavender with 4 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle and mist over your mat and wipe it clean with a soft towel before and after each use. Or use the spray to mist the air of your practice space to create a clean, motivationally aromatic atmosphere.
Blend one or more versions of your own signature massage/anointing oil formulas. Start with 4 tablespoons of a light, non-greasy carrier oil such as jojoba or grapeseed oil and then add 12 drops of essential oils. You can customize the blend of essential oils to create several yoga-centered benefits.
Vetiver, ginger and patchouli will be grounding and earth-connecting while sandalwood and cedarwood are stabilizing, strengthening and centering – all of these essential oils will help with balance and stability in your yoga poses.
Myrrh, frankincense, eucalyptus and rosemary encourage the flow of energy, self-expression and help you achieve steady, deep inhalations and exhalations. (Mastering your breathing process is as important to successful yoga practice as the poses.)
Lavender, geranium and chamomile are calming and relaxing.
Bergamot, lemon and orange lend a sense of fulfillment and spiritual nourishment to your yoga quest.
Neroli, jasmine, ylang and rose promote transcendence and spiritual expression.
Like any system of self-improvement, the successful practice of yoga requires some motivation and diligence. Yoga is not a boot camp program. Nor is it focused soullessly on the creation of a hard and sexy body. Yoga is a journey to a soulfully balanced body that is properly aligned with mind and 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.