My daughter, bless her sweet spirit, was born with fragile lungs. Before we learned how to use essential oils, sharp changes in climate, humidity, and high levels of pollution would incite coughing fits akin to those of an asthmatic but thankfully she was not.
Listening to her ragged breathing and the liquid in her lungs and not knowing how to alleviate her discomfort was tearing her father and I’s hearts open. There were options available to us but as she was an infant, we felt that we could find alternatives that would support her recovery from these episodes without antibiotics or surgery.
In speaking with a pharmacist about a solution, he introduced me to Eucalyptus Globulus essential oil. The positive effects were immediate via diffusion and by heavily diluting and applying the oil directly to her chest. The episodes became rarer and shorter in length and we also felt the benefits of the purified air in our own breathing quality (her father also has fragile lungs). It was a revelation and ten years later, we have become staunch advocates of the use of oils as a support for our physical well-being.
Until recently, I used the oils principally as ingredients for our homemade household products -toothpaste, deodorant, etc. As energetic cleansing for the house and yoga studios I propose my classes in – by diffusion and spray, or to facilitate the body’s natural healing mechanism.
It was only recently when a dear and incredibly sweet friend passed unexpectedly that I understood how essential oils work on the emotional body.
After receiving the news of my friend’s passing, my meditation was distracted at best and my asana practice felt burdened and uninspired. I was profoundly sad and was afloat because of it.
My usual toolkit for coping with difficult situations was not enough, I needed help. The universe heard me and sent me Cassandre and her blend of Frankincense and Wild Orange that she made to ease my grief. Having never used the oils with the intention of emotional healing, I instinctively used the blend the day after she gifted it to me, coupling its energy with the Kundalini Sa Ta Na Ma meditation.
The difference in my meditation was prodigious and immediate. My mind eased a little more with each inhalation and I released a little more sadness and incomprehension with each exhale. I felt the power of the pure essence of nature’s offerings on the psychic level that day and I am ever thankful for it.
Essential oils are powerful medicine and with proper use are an incredible complement to yoga practice and overall physical and mental well-being.
As noted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) “when breathed in, these plant oils stimulate smell receptors in the nose that send chemical messages through nerves to the brain’s limbic system, which affects moods and emotions, and may have some physiological effects on the body. When used on the skin, the
oils are absorbed into the bloodstream.”
It is only through trial and error that you will find what will work for you and which oils to employ so do not hesitate to explore. In order to be prepared, I recommend you research what oils may work for you by speaking with someone knowledgeable in essential oils and by reading solid literature on the subject on your own.
Know that it is imperative to use organic therapeutic grade oils for all purposes as you want to avoid chemical residue and artificial ingredients. Although some oil advocates will say to ingest the oils, I do not recommend it without speaking to your doctor or an aromatherapist first.
Also dilute pure oils to reduce skin sensitivity, allergic reactions, and sun sensitivity (photosensitivity). An organic therapeutic grade oil is concentrated enough that you can dilute it in order to use it safely on your skin in neat (topical) form and still have the benefits. However, be sure to know the oil and its indications of use.
Three ways that I employ essential oils in my daily yoga practice: Start slowly with these suggestions. If time constraints do not allow for you to do all three in a day. Choose one practice and sit with it for eleven days, letting consistency be established and keep a journal of your experience.
How did the oils work for you in your practice on the first day?
How do you feel on the fifth day?
I use the number eleven as it is “the most intuitive” number according to Numerology. It has the positive characteristics of being “instinctual, charismatic, dynamic and capable when its sights are set on a concrete goal.” Sounds good to me, let’s go! Lyrics from
Before stepping out the house, I set an intention for the day and take a moment for gratitude, thankful for another opportunity to love and be loved, to be of service to myself, my family, my friends, students and extending that circle as wide as possible.
With that in mind, I open my home pharmacy of oils (my Glenda the Good Witch kit!) and choose what speaks to my spirit’s intention that day, what feels right at that moment. If it is an oil that I do not use often, I will refresh my knowledge about its origins and it’s therapeutic and emotional uses. I keep an essential oil book handy as a reference.
With that information, I dilute the oil in a carrier oil usually organic sweet almond oil and apply it to my pulse points, behind my ears, the Suprasternal Notch and my palms, rubbing my hands together and bringing them to my nose in order to deeply inhale the essence of the oil and the healing properties of the plant(s) from which it is attained.
I sit with the oil and then begin repeating my intention as an affirmative mantra either three or nine times. Be careful to not fall into the habit of setting multiple intentions for one day. Find one and stick to it. Live it, breath it, and support it with an oil that corresponds to it energetically in order to not disperse your consciousness unnecessarily. A positively focused mind is a calm mind.Lyrics from song “Just Is” by Lamb
My meditation usually comes first thing in the morning or shortly thereafter and before setting my intention. In order to facilitate bringing awareness to the breath and to avoid “chasing the tail of understanding as it runs through my mind”*, I currently use Frankincense, the oil of truth. I apply it on the bottom of my feet so that it may support me in recognizing my true self in meditation.
Depending on my mood, sometimes I will simply diffuse the oil and let it penetrate the space as a whole. Either topically or diffused, since this essential oil smells so delicious to me, it is easy to bring consciousness to the breath. Inhaling the healing aspects and exhaling what is not of service to my greater well-being.
Personally, I find using the essential oils in my meditation brings me clarity and concentration when applied topically. When in diffusion, I feel the energy of the space and all those in it have been uplifted to a more sattvic (virtuous) vibration. Again this is just a suggestion, seek what uplifts your spirit. Know that it can change from one day to the next. Be easy and steady.
While rolling out my mat, I will diffuse an essential oil that goes along with the energy of the yoga practice (are you seeing the pattern here?). If I am working on rooting down with standing poses, I will use a blend for balance. A dynamic practice with loads of inversions? I’ll choose something with a little kick, possibly citrus. A restorative practice, something sweet and delicate to remind me to soften into the poses from within.
Another simple and effective way to incorporate essential oils into the yoga practice is to make a mat cleaner spray using your favorite oil or a mix of oils. A lot of the most common oils such as Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, and Tea Tree have antibacterial properties. While in savasana the smell of the oil will encompass you and possibly enhance your release into relaxation.
It’s worth giving it a go, no?
Essential oils can be employed in a myriad of ways, all personal to the user. Explore this perfect complement to yoga and see how it can assist you on the journey to embodying your truest self.
May your journey into the world of essential oils and yoga be a sweet and delicious smelling one.
Hari Om Tat Sat