By Emma Needleman -
Yoga: the perfect union of body, mind and - nose? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds: Incorporating aromatherapy into your yoga practice is a great way to maximize the physical and mental benefits of yoga.
Aromatherapy is the application and diffusion of essential oils (natural oils derived from plants) for therapeutic purposes. Different oils provide different benefits. The right oil can do everything from improving concentration and reducing stress to boosting your immune system, improving the quality of your sleep and decreasing cold and allergy congestion.
What oils should you use? That depends on what you need. To clarify and improve breathing pick bold scents like eucalyptus, ginger, lemon or cypress. For relaxation, try lavender, chamomile, bergamot and geranium. Jasmine, ylang and rose are associated with spiritual properties, while sandalwood and cedarwood will help you center and focus. Lavender oil promotes relaxation and decreases anxiety and tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant that might help reduce inflammationin the nasal passages. Finally, lively scents like peppermint and tangerine will give you energy and add pep to your routine.
How do you incorporate essential oils into your yoga practice? Well, there are many different ways to combine the benefits of aromatherapy with your yoga home practice. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Use a diffuser: Diffuse a calming (or enlivening, depending on your type of practce) essential oil in the space where you’re doing your yoga. You can do this with an essential oil diffuser (like a candle lamp), a scented candle or simply by dripping the oils on a crumpled Kleenex.
2. Apply aroma oil directly to your body. You can also try applying the oils directly to your body. Apply one or more as a perfume or make your own massage oil: combine a light “carrier” oil like grapeseed or jojoba with 12 drops of the essential oils of your choosing. At the end of your session you (or your yoga partner) can rub it on your feet, limbs, chest or back, helping you to relax and get the full range of aromatherapy benefits.
3. Use an aromatherapy spray. You can also make or buy an aromatherapy spray using water and essential oils. Use it to disinfect your yoga mat or simply spray it around the room. Sprays are particularly effective if you have to do your yoga in a room (maybe a basement rec room) that’s already a little dingy.
The take away message here is that there are countless essential oils and plenty of different ways to use them. With so many options, there’s bound to be a combination that’s perfect for you and your yoga practice, so start experimenting!
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