The use of essential oils for yoga can assist in setting intentions for your practice and further connecting mind and body. Learn which oils are best for your needs.
When you pair essential oils with your yoga practice and intention-setting, this physical sense anchors your positive thoughts into the physical world.
As a certified yoga instructor, I love utilizing aromatherapy in my own classes and one-on-one practices. It helps students settle into a good headspace to pass around essential oils during the first few minutes of practice. I let students smell the oils and give them the option to apply a few drops onto the top edge of their mat or rub a few drops into their hands and breathe in the scent. This action can help you connect your physical body to your mind (your mental body).
Common Essential Oils for Yoga Classes and Their Medicinal Benefits
- Lavender. Lavender is known to help calm anxiety and relax you. It's useful in both restorative and yin yoga flows, or if you are sitting for longer periods of time in meditation.
- Rosemary. Known for its antibacterial properties, rosemary is an excellent oil to use if you're feeling congested and under the weather. Rosemary helps clear the mind and boosts circulation. Use in a yoga flow when you want added detox benefits.
- Tea Tree. Tea tree oil helps support the immune system and is known for its antimicrobial properties. This oil is also good if you feel you’re feeling under the weather and need extra support for your body during your practice.
- Eucalyptus. Perfect for decongestion. Eucalyptus helps clear the mind and sinuses and is great for headaches. Use this oil in your practice if you feel your sinuses are congested or your mind needs a reset, as eucalyptus helps improve focus.
- Peppermint. Peppermint is known to help relieve headaches and nausea and is known as an analgesic. If you feel a tension headache coming on, your go-to oil could be peppermint.
- Orange. One of my favorite scents, orange is great for energizing the mind and body and has uplifting qualities. Use this citrus scent when you're feeling stuck creatively and need an extra playful boost.
- Lemongrass. Similar to tea tree oil, lemongrass has antimicrobial and cleansing properties. Use lemongrass to help stimulate your mind and hit the mental refresh button.
- Patchouli. Patchouli helps calm the nervous system and is known to help anxiety and depression. Use patchouli when your body needs extra care from burnout and exhaustion.
Note: If you’re utilizing oils in a home practice, be mindful because essential oils can be toxic to animals. Use oils in a safe space where animals can’t go, and store them in places animals can’t get into.
Contraindications: Always avoid sensitive areas of the body such as the eyes, and if you have sensitive skin, perform a patch test to ensure you're not allergic to the oils or will not be irritated by the use of them. It is not suggested young children use essential oils directly on their skin. Using oils in a diffuser could be a useful alternative if you are sensitive to oils.
How to Incorporate Essential Oils for Yoga
The first step is to set your intention for your practice. Setting intentions is a great way to bridge your physical world with your mental world. These are the steps I take in my own personal practice. Ask yourself questions similar to these: What am I going through right now? What boundary would I like to set for myself? What intention would I like to see come to life? Intentions can be as simple as saying “I am enough” or “I have everything I need within me.” Let whatever comes to you lead the way. Visualize this intention and pick out the oils that will bring you closer to it. (Remember, visualization is a powerful tool in yoga.)
The second step is to set out the oils you want to utilize during your yoga practice next to your mat. Set them out in a way so they are easily accessible but won’t be in your way as you move through your flow.
It is best to sit in meditation when you set your intention(s). Sit in sukhasana, or easy pose, or any pose you feel comfortable resting in, and pick up your essential oil(s) of choice and simply inhale the scent. Close your eyes and state your intention out loud or to yourself. Visualize the intention you’ve set as you are inhaling the scent of the oil in hand. Bring your intention to the forefront of your mind and quietly say it out loud or in your mind. If you feel inclined, drip a few droplets onto your hands and rub them together, then bring your hands to your nose and breathe.
I would advise to only use a drop or two as a little goes a long way; essential oils are concentrated scents. If you wish, place a few drops at the front edge of your yoga mat where your face will frequent. This way you will get the full effects of the scent as you move through your physical postures.
Finding Reputable Brands of Essential Oils for Yoga
The oils you use in your practice come into contact with your skin and in the air you breathe, so it is important to know where these oils come from. You can find great brands of oils at health food stores or holistic stores. Make sure to read the labels to see exactly what is inside. The best essential oils will clearly say what the oil is and usually won’t include other ingredients. Search for brands that are wild-crafted, which essentially means chemical-free and harvested natively and sustainably.
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