Do you abhor packed gyms and frantic, sweaty aerobic workouts? If fitness to you is holistic, you probably love the complete mind and body workout a session of yoga promises. But what if you wanted to push your workout a little further and get even more out of it?
Yoga is a wonderful way to give your body a complete workout while you soothe your mind too. But it can be hard to let go off some of the stress of your day, or focus your mind enough for a demanding session, simply by rolling out that yoga mat. That is where essential oils can really help.
Adding essential oils to your workout space, anointing others in a group yoga session, or simply dabbing a little on your pulse points before you begin your asanas can take a simple yoga session up several notches and leave you feeling better than ever!
Essential oils are basically oils extracted from the stems, flowers, seeds, and even the bark of various plants. Most oils have a distinct aroma that makes them smell heavenly, lifting your spirits in an instant.
Pick your favorites based on what kind of results you want out of your oils. Once you have tried using essential oils to boost a yoga session, you won’t go back to plain vanilla yoga – unless it is vanilla-scented that is!
Essential Oils To Boost A Yoga Session
Calm The Mind
If one of your goals with yoga is to de-stress and calm your mind, essential oils can help up your game significantly. You may want to pick rosemary to just clear your head before you begin your yoga session.
It has been known to ease anxiety in test-taking scenarios, so imagine what it could do for your already relaxing yoga session.1 You could also try jasmine essential oil. A psychotherapeutic agent, it can help drive away feelings of anxiety as you go through your asanas.2
A touch of sweet orange oil on your wrist, before you go through the various yoga movements, can ease feelings of frustration or fear.
Studies have found it can calm your stress and ease anxiety, as noted in the lower salivary cortimsol levels of test subjects (in this case, children) in one study.3 Combine this with asanas and deep breathing, and your body and mind will emerge relaxed and stress-free.
Find That Emotional Balance
Mellow things down with the delicate fragrance of rose essential oil. It has been found to slow down rapid breathing, making it ideal for those yoga poses that need you to hold a position for a while or for the spot of meditation you do. Your blood oxygen saturation and blood pressure should also drop, and that sets the stage for a yoga session that can center you emotionally too.4
You can also balance your emotional state as you go through your yoga movements with the relaxing fragrance of lavender. Researchers have found it can calm the activity of your autonomic nervous system, lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and skin temperature.5
Feel Uplifted And Energized
Rejuvenate and revive yourself with the uplifting smells of clary sage, lemon, or lime. According to aromatherapy experts, clary makes you feel cheerful, almost euphoric. Using it while doing yoga will give you that extra push you need to keep going.6
Nothing can perk you up quite like a citrus hit! The lingering zingy aroma of lemon and lime oils during a yoga session is known to improve your mood and make you more alert.7 If you need to clear energy that seems to be blocked within, black pepper essential oil is on the money. It also relieves muscle pulls and cramps.8
Get Your Oxygen Fix
Did you know that essential oils can even make your workout go further? Power up your breathing with some peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil. Applying some to the chest area will open up your body’s airways and help your lungs work at their best.
The added oxygenation is exactly what you need to amp up a yoga session, helping you perform the physical movements better.9 It will also help you breathe easy, with that unmistakable fresh minty fragrance that can cut through any ambient smells.
Cedarwood essential oil can actually improve your endurance, allowing you to go further and do more with your yoga. So before you take up an especially challenging set of movements, or if you find you have been struggling to get through all the poses, use some cedarwood oil as aromatherapy.10
Soothe Sore Muscles
If you are feeling a little sore from your last yoga session, you will be surprised by the difference a little basil essential oil can make. Dab some oil (blended with a carrier oil) to sort out aching muscles or that catch in your back and forget the discomfort caused by an awkwardly executed yoga movement.11
German chamomile can be a great accompaniment to a yoga session, just as a cup of chamomile tea can be soothing to you afterward. Studies have found that the oil has strong analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant power – thanks to the high levels of flavonoids and phenolic compounds it contains. This makes it a great choice for boosting your immunity and helping your body heal from any injury or illness, allowing you to keep up your yoga sessions even in the flu season.12
Enjoy The Outdoors – Bug-Free!
If you are lucky enough to have access to a lovely outdoor space to practice your yoga, you might need essential oils to ward off pests and bugs. Some oils like citronella or tea tree oil can also act as great disinfectants, besides being good natural insect repellents, and cleanse the air of any unwelcome smells.13
How To Use The Oils
Essential oils can be used in so many different ways. You can try a diffuser, allowing the scents of the oil to gently permeate the air in your exercise space. Or you could just dab some on your wrists – not only will it be absorbed internally, the warmth of your body will also lend it a lilting fragrance.
Just be sure to dilute your essential oils as needed with a carrier oil (whether that is coconut or olive oil or almond oil or something else) before you apply it to your skin – these oils are usually very strong and could irritate your skin otherwise. You could also put a few drops into a bowl of water or spray some in the air.
If you would like the effects to go even deeper, a massage that incorporates aromatic essential oils can let the goodness get under your skin – making your body much more “ready” for the asanas you plan to put it through. Also, keep in mind what time of year it is, and the weather and temperature, given the season. That is because each essential oil has specific health benefits, and some are more useful in some months than others. For instance, you stand to gain from oils that are antidepressants (like ylang ylang or orange) in the long winter months.
Antioxidants and antibacterial oils like clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemon, or rosemary are useful when seasons change and flu is in the air. Clear brain fog and headaches that strike with spring and hay fever by using black pepper, lavender, or marjoram. Warding off bugs becomes vital in summer, so that is when you should bring out your stash of citronella, lemongrass, or patchouli. And when fall swings around, keep your skin from drying out with sandalwood, geranium, or rose.
|↑1||McCaffrey, Ruth, Debra J. Thomas, and Ann Orth Kinzelman. “The Effects of Lavender and Rosemary Essential Oils on Test‐Taking Anxiety Among Graduate Nursing Students.” Holistic nursing practice 23, no. 2 (2009): 88-93.|
|↑2||Lawless, Harry. “Effects of odors on mood and behavior: aromatherapy and related effects.” In The human sense of smell, pp. 361-386. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1991.|
|↑3||Jaafarzadeh, Mahdi, Soroor Arman, and Fatemeh Farahbakhsh Pour. “Effect of aromatherapy with orange essential oil on salivary cortisol and pulse rate in children during dental treatment: a randomized controlled clinical trial.” Advanced biomedical research 2, no. 1 (2013): 10.|
|↑4||Hongratanaworakit, Tapanee. “Relaxing effect of rose oil on humans.” Nat Prod Commun 4, no. 2 (2009): 291-6.|
|↑5||MPham, Winai Sayorwan, and Vorasith Siripornpanich. “The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity.” J Med Assoc Thai 95, no. 4 (2012): 598-606.|
|↑6, ↑10||Keville, Kathi, and Mindy Green. Aromatherapy: a complete guide to the healing art. Crossing Press, 2012.|
|↑7||Garg, S. C. “Essential oils as therapeutics.” Natural product radiance 4, no. 1 (2005): 18-26.|
|↑8||Ali, Babar, Naser Ali Al-Wabel, Saiba Shams, Aftab Ahamad, Shah Alam Khan, and Firoz Anwar. “Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 5, no. 8 (2015): 601-611.|
|↑9||Meamarbashi, Abbas. “Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance.” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine 4, no. 1 (2014): 72.|
|↑11||Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 600 Natural, Non-toxic & Fragrant Recipes to Create Health• Beauty• A Safe Home Environment. New world library, 2012.|
|↑12||Srivastava, Janmejai K., Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” Molecular medicine reports 3, no. 6 (2010): 895.|
|↑13||Rose, Jeanne. The aromatherapy book: applications and inhalations. North Atlantic Books, 2013.|