Buddha Groove’s Guru Series brings insight from experts across the fields of mindfulness, natural wellness, yoga, and meditation. This week, we have wisdom from an aromatherapist in training, Emma Carter.
If you’re an avid yogi, I’m sure you’re aware of the benefits a regular yoga practice brings. In the world of holistic health and well-being, essential oils have been the focus of a lot of discussions lately. Matter of fact, the goals of yoga and the beneficial effects of essential oils coincide with another. Practicing yoga at home, and using essential oils while doing it, creates a superb combination for much-needed relaxation and meditation. In this article, I’ll show you how to best use essential oils to support your yoga practice at home.
Why Use Essential Oils When Practicing Yoga
Yoga, as we know, is a popular form of exercise and meditation. It associates both physical postures and focused breathing with deep relaxation and meditation. For millions of people in the whole world, yoga is a great way to relieve everyday stress built up from work or study or to achieve spiritual and emotional balance. Essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, cedarwood and a lot more others, are also closely linked to contributing to the holistic well-being of any individual. Here are, in fact, some reasons why essential oils could be your best pal when practicing yoga:
- Essential Oils Help You Focus, Wake You Up and Boost Energy
Some essential oils stimulate the brain and increase oxygen concentration, thus allowing you to stay focused, be energized and feel refreshed. Sometimes, the oil can even improve athletic performance.
- Essential Oils Help Relieve Stress
Every single day, we deal with stress and probably, this is the primary reason as to why people take yoga classes or practice yoga at home. Whether you’re practicing yoga, or plan to start soon, you should really consider using essential oils alongside yoga. Oils can lower cortisol levels and reduce symptoms of depression, thus improving your general mood and balance your hormones.
- Essential Oils Help Soothe Sore Muscles
No, yoga is not purely meditation where you just sit and “relax.” It is indeed still a form of exercise. Muscles are still very much involved during the practice of yoga and muscle aches can sometimes be a problem after a strenuous practice session. There are also studies that support how essential oils could provide instant and soothing relief sore muscles, and reduce physical exhaustion.
- Essential Oils Trigger the Brain to Release Neurotransmitters
Serotonin or dopamine is known to be the “happy” hormone, greatly affecting our emotions through altering our moods into positive ones. The more these hormones are excreted in the brain, the happier you will become. Some essential oils could help you with that hormonal release. You can’t deny that the lovely smell of essential oils has the potential to paint a beautiful smile on your face most of the time. With yoga also inclined to influence one’s entire system, including the emotional part, partnering it with essential oils could heighten the way you experience your yoga practice at home.
How to Use Essential Oils for Yoga
One way of using essential oils for your yoga practice at home is to diffuse them with an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser. You can get started with a well-functioning diffuser between $20 – $40. Higher end models are available, but for beginners, I recommend you try something budget-friendly first and upgrade later as you become accustomed to incorporating a diffuser in your home.
- Wear essential oil jewelry
You can opt to wear essential oil jewelry such as a bracelet, necklace or anklet, where a few drops of oils are added to the jewelry piece of choice. This makes your experience of essential oils incorporated into your yoga practice much more personal than scenting the whole room. Essential oils are a highly personal choice and this may become a consideration if you practice yoga at home together with your partner, kids, or friends.
- Make a yoga mat cleaning spray and use it before and/or after your practice.
Your yoga space, yoga mat, or other yoga props need a way to be cleansed and purified. Indeed, an essential oil yoga mat spray could let you be indulged in an inviting aromatic environment when practicing yoga. If you choose essential oils specifically good for freshness and cleansing, a yoga mat essential oil spray is definitely a win-win.
- Apply the oil topically to the neck or upper chest.
The skin is our largest organ and does a fantastic job of absorbing the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. If you want quick, direct and targeted benefits of essential oils, apply them topically to your skin. Before you do, you have to make sure that your oils are properly diluted with a carrier oil, or that you use pre-diluted roll-on products that are safe to go on your skin directly. Oils should be applied somewhere where your nose is close, thus the neck and upper chest are almost the best areas where you could put essential oils.
Which Essential Oils Should You Use?
In terms of which oils to use, below are five picks on must-have essential oils when practicing yoga at home. They offer various and different results that tie in with yoga and meditation, and you might want to explore them all to find your own personal favorite.
- Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood essential oil is often recommended for its grounding effect and we can see why: its scent is from a large and tall tree, which is rooted to the ground. It could really work well when practicing a grounding and nourishing yoga session or a mindfulness meditation. Cedarwood is also worth a try when your goal is to strengthen and center Savor the scent, inhale deeply through the nose and exhale after every pose.
Mental clarity, focus and strength are what diffusing sandalwood essential oil could give you. Yes, it can almost literally draw you back again to the center of your entirety, especially when you feel as if you are doubtful or mentally lost. Meditate for five minutes, deeply breathing in sandalwood essential oil, allowing it to seep in through the rest of you. Then, you may gradually start your physical exercise. Note the effects of this essential oil through the strength you feel in every aspect of your being.
Lavender essential oil is something that the human brain really loves taking in. Why is that so? It can, in fact, relieve many signs of stress. It can elicit a calming and relaxing atmosphere. This is probably why using lavender essential oil after a yoga practice could very well lead you to fall asleep for a little while. It is not because of exhaustion but rather because of stress neutralization and overall health promotion. You might want to use this if you intend to rest after practicing yoga, or on your yoga mat spray.
What’s really good about peppermint essential oil is that it can ease muscle pain, especially after a rigorous yoga practice. While you may use pain relievers such as ibuprofen, why don’t you try peppermint oil instead? It has analgesic (pain relieving), anti-spasmodic (muscle soothing) and anti-inflammatory properties. Sometimes, peppermint oil could likewise bring one back into focus, especially when the struggle is hard to do so. Putting a little peppermint oil on your yoga mat can regain that balance and concentration once again as it promotes clear breathing and awareness.
- Lemongrass Essential Oil
Spiritual nourishment – what is that? Well, that is what lemongrass essential oil is all about if you consider using it for your yoga practice. It can uplift your moods and the soul. It cleanses and calms the human brain, which we often forget to do. Nevertheless, lemongrass essential oil is also able to pump up energy not just through your brain but the general entirety of you. This oil can be greatly appreciated during a yoga practice.
Further Tips on Using Essential Oils for Yoga
Experiment with essential oils. Not every oil works for everyone. The best technique, then, is to try different oils until you find the one that works for you best. You may switch from peppermint to eucalyptus to thyme, or might even combine some oils and make your very own blend. Different oils offer you different emotional reactions and it is up to you to decide which oil captures your attention.
Make sure to smell the oil more than 15 minutes prior to your yoga practice. You wouldn’t want to complain later on how much you didn’t like the scent. Get used to it for a while and decide if it’s the right pick. It takes only a few moments and if you need to switch it up, you still can, without interrupting the flow of your practice.
There are myriads of choices when using oils in your yoga practice at home, and you are free to pick what works for you – whether they are blends or pure oils. Nevertheless, the fact that yoga, your stress reliever, is accompanied by natural oils to take its benefits to the next level is something you might really want to gift to yourself. See the difference. No, feel the difference.