Essential Oils are a great, natural way of keeping my yoga mat clean and smelling deliciously fresh, without using nasty chemicals. And using essential oils has enhanced my yoga practice by bringing the addition of natural, therapeutic properties of plants to my mat and to my life.
But, did you know that essential oils, as well as smelling delightful, have an emotional and energetic resonance and can actually change your mood and affect your body chemistry?! Using them on and off the mat can hold huge benefits. Here’s a simple guide to which oils are useful for your practice and how they can impact your life off the mat too.
Tadasana, meditation, balancing poses, all require a connection to Mother Earth and a somatic experience of grounding. Utilising tree essential oils such as Vetiver - the Oil of Centring, Myrrh - the Oil of Mother Earth, and Cedarwood - the Oil of Community, can evoke an awareness of Earthing energy. In these grounding poses, or when you feel yourself loosing mental control, use these oils on the soles of your feet and visualise roots growing from your base, deep into the earth, feeling nurtured and nourished and communicating with other roots. This is a great technique if you’re feeling anxious and you’re stuck somewhere, such as in a supermarket queue or waiting for results at the doctors or about to jump off a bridge with a bungee chord attached to your ankles!
Finding compassion and fullness of breath can transform an exercise routine into a yoga practice. And using essential oils such as Rose - the Oil of Divine Love, Peppermint - the Oil of a Buoyant Heart, and Geranium - the Oil of Love and Trust can transform a yoga practice into an act of love and devotion. When you use these oils on the chest and open your heart to these energies during Pranayama, Supta Badhakonasana and back bends, you may experience a powerful sense of love. Imagine that you are breathing space to the front, back and sides of your heart; allow each inhale to gently expand the space and each exhale to soften all the cells around your chest. This is a lovely practice to find peace and calm and forgiveness and you can do it anywhere - on the bus, after an argument or before a difficult conversation.
A yoga practice aims to sublimate energy from Earth to Ether and lift energies from self to a sense of oneness. To do this we need to untether from judgement and understand that we are all part of the same energy pattern. Letting go of judgement and accepting was currently is seems like such a simple concept but in fact, on the mat and in life, it is WAY easier said than done. Inversions such as Sirsasana, act to move energy from the base of the physical and energetic body to the crown. The final resting pose of a yoga practice, Savasana, seeks to fully let go and submit to what is. Using essential oils can aid in the challenging mental task of focus and acceptance. Frankincense - the Oil of Truth, Lemon - the Oil of Focus, and Melissa - the Oil of Light, are keys to finding the energetic resonance in these yoga poses as well as finding a mental calm off the mat. If your brain feels like a barrel of drunken monkeys being chased by bees, then try these oils on the base of your skull or on your temples and do a body scan. Sitting or lying on your back, eyes closed, notice your toes, feet, ankles… work up your body, paying attention to the sensations that you can feel and simply accept what is there and then continue your scan. All the way to the top of your head. And if you’re still awake when you get there, smile!
Please note that using a high-quality essential oil is vital if you want to use it on your skin or if you want to reap therapeutic emotional, energetic and chemical benefits. Jeni Howland is a yoga teacher and natural health practitioner and works with Essential Oils. She sells Essential Oils and also runs weekly online classes on how to use them safely and effectively.
Jeni has been practising yoga for over 20 years. She has studied and practised many branches including Hatha, Ashtanga, Tantra, Iyengar and Kundalini. She has had the privilege of gathering knowledge and guidance from yoga teachers in India, Thailand, the UK and Australia. She completed a Yoga Teacher Training course, accredited by Yoga Alliance and went on to train as a Somatic Movement Teacher with Tanya Fitzpatrick and with James Knight. Always updating her training and adapting her teaching, Jeni is an evergreen learner and teacher.