For many of us, an at-home yoga session feels familiar. It’s just you, the mat, and silence. Maybe there’s a glass of water or towel nearby. But what about essential oils, the fragrant liquids used in aromatherapy? Yoga and oils have a lot in common, so it only makes sense to combine them.
Aromatherapy helps you create the best environment for yoga. It energizes the mind, body, and soul, letting you focus on each and every breath. Mindfulness and awareness will thrive. In turn, it’ll be easier to move into poses, helping you get the most out of your routine. If you’ve been exposed to aromatherapy at the spa or in yoga class, you know how great it can be! Luckily, recreating the experience at home is totally possible.
What Are The Best Essential Oils For Yoga?
Pick and choose oils depending on your mood or practice. Create a personal blend or use them by one by one – it’s up to you. Always use high-quality, 100% pure essential oils.
Lavender essential oil is known for its relaxing scent. In fact, ancient Egyptians used it in steam baths to calm the central nervous system. The Greeks and Romans followed suit soon after. It’s also used as a holistic treatment for stress, headache, and anxiety.1
As a tea, chamomile is a popular sleep aid. It’s no different as an essential oil! In a 2013 study, chamomile oil improved sleep, anxiety, and blood pressure of patients in the intensive care unit. It’s even pegged as a possible treatment of insomnia, a common sleep disorder.4 5
Chamomile oil works by reducing stress-induced plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone. Feeling too tense to practice yoga? When applied to the skin, chamomile also controls pain and muscle spasms.6
Sandalwood oil is another stress-busting remedy. It’s been proven to reduce anxiety, even for women undergoing a breast biopsy. The effects are greater when combined with lavender oil. If you’re working on a particularly hard pose, consider using sandalwood. Many use it to center and strengthen the mind and body.7
Don’t let a headache get in the way of your practice. As a natural painkiller, peppermint essential oil will release pressure and clear the mind. It’s one of the best remedies for a minor tension-type headache. Need a wake-up call? Instead of drinking caffeine, inhale peppermint to beat mental fatigue, burnout, and stress.8 9
Eucalyptus oil contains ellagic acid, a polyphenol with anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects. The aroma is so refreshing that it can even calm patients waiting for surgery. During a yoga flow, you’re bound to feel rejuvenated. Plus, like peppermint, eucalyptus opens the mind and spirit. Use them together while you’re trying to cool down on a hot day.10
The sunny scent of bergamot oil is amazing for boosting your mood. For centuries, it’s doubled as a treatment for anxiety, stress, pain, and high blood pressure. In fact, a 2017 study in Phytotherapy Research found that inhaling bergamot can improve positive feelings in the waiting room. If you’re new to essential oils, consider starting with bergamot. The citrus aroma is common so it won’t seem too strange or different.11
Brighten up your practice with grapefruit essential oil. When inhaled, it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, offering a gentle boost of energy. Inhaling grapefruit oil also decreases food intake while increasing thermogenesis. Like bergamot, this one’s an ideal starter oil. Use them together for a rejuvenating morning blend.12
How To Use Aromatherapy In Yoga
Make no mistake, essential oils can seriously transform your practice. Here’s how to put them into action.
1. Ultrasonic Diffuser
An ultrasonic diffuser uses water and essential oils. It disperses a light mist, filling the room with a marvelous aroma. You can easily find this device at department stores and health shops.
2. Clay Diffuser
For a DIY option, make or buy a clay diffuser. This simply holds drops of essential oil until it evaporates. It’s a budget-friendly option but won’t work as well as ultrasonic diffusers.
3. Essential Oil Warmer
A candle warmer can be used to diffuse essential oils. Fill the candle warmer dish with water and add 5 to 10 drops of the oil. Some warmers heat up with electricity, while others use a tea light candle.
To apply essential oils to your body, dilute them first. Use 5 drops for every 1 tablespoon of carrier oil. Always do a patch test if you’re using something new.
|↑1||Ayaz, Muhammad, Abdul Sadiq, Muhammad Junaid, Farhat Ullah, Fazal Subhan, and Jawad Ahmed. “Neuroprotective and Anti-Aging Potentials of Essential Oils from Aromatic and Medicinal Plants.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience 9 (2017).|
|↑2||Kianpour, Maryam, Akram Mansouri, Tayebeh Mehrabi, and Gholamreza Asghari. “Effect of lavender scent inhalation on prevention of stress, anxiety and depression in the postpartum period.” Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research 21, no. 2 (2016): 197.|
|↑3||Kritsidima, Metaxia, Tim Newton, and Koula Asimakopoulou. “The effects of lavender scent on dental patient anxiety levels: a cluster randomised‐controlled trial.” Community dentistry and oral epidemiology 38, no. 1 (2010): 83-87.|
|↑4||Cho, Mi-Yeon, Eun Sil Min, Myung-Haeng Hur, and Myeong Soo Lee. “Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).|
|↑5, ↑6||Srivastava, Janmejai K., Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: a herbal medicine of the past with a bright future.” Molecular medicine reports 3, no. 6 (2010): 895-901.|
|↑7||Trambert, Renee, Mildred Ortu Kowalski, Betty Wu, Nimisha Mehta, and Paul Friedman. “A Randomized Controlled Trial Provides Evidence to Support Aromatherapy to Minimize Anxiety in Women Undergoing Breast Biopsy.” Worldviews on Evidence‐Based Nursing (2017).|
|↑8||Göbel, H., A. Heinze, K. Heinze-Kuhn, A. Göbel, and C. Göbel. “Peppermint oil in the acute treatment of tension-type headache.” Schmerz (Berlin, Germany) 30, no. 3 (2016): 295-310.|
|↑9||Varney, Elizabeth, and Jane Buckle. “Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot study.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 19, no. 1 (2013): 69-71.|
|↑10||Kim, Ka Young, Hyo Jin Seo, Sun Seek Min, Mira Park, and Geun Hee Seol. “The effect of 1, 8-cineole inhalation on preoperative anxiety: a randomized clinical trial.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).|
|↑11||Han, Xuesheng, Jacob Gibson, Dennis L. Eggett, and Tory L. Parker. “Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Essential Oil Inhalation Improves Positive Feelings in the Waiting Room of a Mental Health Treatment Center: A Pilot Study.” Phytotherapy Research 31, no. 5 (2017): 812-816.|
|↑12||Nagai, Katsuya, Akira Niijima, Yuko Horii, Jiao Shen, and Mamoru Tanida. “Olfactory stimulatory with grapefruit and lavender oils change autonomic nerve activity and physiological function.” Autonomic Neuroscience 185 (2014): 29-35.|