Essential oils to boost your yoga practice
There are so many different reasons to enjoy yoga - and there are also many ways that essential oils can be used to support in creating a beautiful practice. But this depends on something crucial - why do we practice in the first place? Often, people get very focused on yoga for ‘exercise,’ preferring it for what we call ‘asana’, which is the postures that we get into during a typical class. Whilst yoga can be used in this way, to help energise and strengthen our bodies (and don’t get us wrong, it can feel harder than it looks!), the actual translation of the word ‘yoga’ in Sanskrit is ‘union’. Again, the word ‘union’ can also be left open to interpretation, and so yoga still gets used for many different intentions and purposes. The traditional definition of this union, though, is to unite you with ‘consciousness’ – to reconnect you to something higher, your true self. And, so, many people also use yoga in this way, as it was intended – to prepare the body to meditate, and to practice meditation.
I am a believer that yoga is actually a way of life and, because of this, yoga can be used in anyway we want, in order to remind us of the beautiful feeling that occurs when we are in deeper connection to ourselves. So, in this article, we discuss, firstly, how you can tailor your yoga to your own needs. More excitingly though, we then discuss how this can be supported with beautiful essential oils to create a really bespoke, blissful practice for you to enjoy – no matter what your aim!
Why do you ‘yoga’?
There are times, as a yogi, where we use yoga practice for all of these different things, but some of the common reasons for bespoking your practice are to develop physical strength, to achieve more flexibility, to breathe, to meditate, to practice mindfulness, or to remind yourself of a particular set intention. There are essential oils to support all of these reasons for practice – including to help with different intentions - and we are going to discuss these here!
So, to help you decide which essential oils will bolster your bespoke practice, it will be useful to think about why you are practicing first! Or, if you’re new to yoga, why you might want to practice!
Essential oils for five different types of yoga practice
Because it’s a way of life, you’ll likely find that you’re always living yogic principles. However, when you come to your mat to dedicate some space for yourself to reconnect, it’s likely that whilst you’ll be incorporating a little of all of these different intentions into one practice, there might be a specific intention that you have in mind for each individual practice. Something specific that you come to the mat with. Therefore, you’re likely to change the focus each time you practice. Working with essential oils can help you tune into that intention.
Physical postures for strength-building yang practice
We’ll begin with the most common use of yoga in today’s society. Many people use yoga for the asana (postural) practice, and to help build strength. A really strong class with poses such as warriors, many sun salutations, planks, arm balances and inversions will be demanding of physical strength, and there are many essential oils to support this intention for practice. The original aim for this type of practice, out of interest, was to prepare the body for meditation, to allow us to sit for a long time, so perhaps you’ll consider adding in some quieter time for this, too, at the end of your practice? However, to support a more yang practice, which aims to create strength, the following essential oils are perfect:
- Black Pepper
Any of the above oils would be perfect in an energising blend, but try these for full impact:
- Energising Diffusion: Diffuse 3 drops Lemon, 3 drops Lime and 2 drops Cypress in a candle burner or aromatherapy diffuser during practice, to energise you!
- Muscle Magic Massage: Post practice, mix 3 drops Peppermint and 3 drops Black Pepper in 15ml Grapeseed oil and massage into the body, in a direction towards the heart, to help relieve muscular aches following strong exercise.
To develop flexiblity and slow down to practice yin
One of the other main aims of yoga is to create flexibility. Often the slower, more yielding practices, such as yin or restorative help more with this, and so if you’re fancying a slower, softer practice, why not try these essential oils to help with your flexibility and relaxation?
- Sweet Marjoram
Try these beautifully relaxing yin blends to support this softer practice:
- Softer Diffusion: Diffuse 3 drops Mandarin, 3 drops Patchouli and 2 drops Chamomile during practice, to help you soften and relax!
- Flexibility Massage: One hour pre-practice, blend 3 drops Sweet Marjoram, 2 drops Chamomile and 1 drop Geranium in 15ml Grapeseed oil and massage into the body, in a direction towards the heart, to remind muscles to relax and yield to gravity. Make sure the oils have absorbed before your practice so you don’t slide over the mat!
To align the breath and create calm in the body
A common reason to go to your mat, even if you don’t do any asana, is to breathe (and the whole point of yoga is to align the body and breath, so you’ll still be breathing during any practice!). However, sometimes it can be nice to just come to the mat solely to breathe, as this can help balance the body in times of stress, restoring a sense of calm. To enhance breathing, use these essential oils:
Try these blissful breathing blends:
- Breathe-Easy Diffusion: Diffuse 3 drops Benzoin, 3 drops Lavender and 1 drop Thyme during practice, to help deepen your breath!
- Breath-Giving Inhalator: for a specific breathing aid, why not create an inhalator stick to use with your breathing practice? Add 3 drops Eucalyptus to a cotton pad, roll it up and place it in the inhaler to use as required during practice.
To meditate, ground and find mindful stillness in connection to something greater
Meditation can really help ground you and reconnect you to something greater – creating awareness. If you want to come to your mat specifically to meditate, perhaps you will use a meditation blend.
- Sweet Orange
- Clary Sage
The following blends really support meditation and mindfulness, having very grounding and meditative properties:
- Mindful Diffusion: Diffuse 3 drops Sandalwood, 3 drops Sweet Orange and 2 drops Myrrh during practice, to help create a meditative presence.
- Meditative Spritz: Mix 10 drops Cedarwood, 10 drops Clary Sage and 10 drops Rose into 100ml of Lavender Hydrolat and spray over yourself during your practice, as required.
To work with set intentions
Of course, as well as the above reasons for practicing yoga, there can be a specific set intention you are working with when you come to your mat. I have created three blends for some common yoga intentions, and their useful essential oil blends are listed below:
- Cleansing and Clearing Space – try Lemon, Juniper and Sage Dalmation in a cleansing spritz: Mix 15 drops Lemon, 10 drops Juniper and 5 drops Sage Dalmation into 100ml Orange Flower Hydrolat, and spritz prior to yoga and meditation to cleanse the space you are practicing in.
- Letting Go and Allowing Emotional Release – to help release difficult emotions, perhaps during a beautiful yin practice, try creating a massage blend with Rose, Ylang Ylang and Bergamot and rubbing this on the heart and chest area prior to practice. Mix 3 drops Rose, 2 drops Bergamot and 1 drop Ylang Ylang in 15ml Grapeseed oil and apply as directed, breathing deeply.
- Encouraging Gratitude and Hopefulness – to help cultivate an attitude of gratitude try diffusing some cheery Grapefruit, Cypress and Melissa. Pop 2-3 drops of each oil in a burner or diffuser during practice.
There are many more creative aromatherapy blends that you can bespoke your yoga practice with, and my top tip, as usual, is to follow your nose. Our bodies always know what they need, and we are drawn to the oils that will help us in each moment. To truly tailor your yoga, the best way is to select 3 oils you are drawn to just before you practice. Why not create a little essential oil selection ritual as part of your practice, and you’ll be an expert at incorporating oils into your mat-time sooner than you think! It’s a beautiful process, so enjoy, and take time to stay mindful about selection.
So, grab your essential oils from our website and have fun practicing!
Read other articles by Nicole Barton