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Let’s set the scene. Imagine yourself walking into a beautifully lit room, setup with yoga mats, blocks, bolster and eye pillows with a scent burning in the corner of the room. A calming scent fills your lungs while you take your spot and ground yourself on the mat. As you get ready to begin your practice, you first massage the chosen aroma on your pulse and neck, allowing the soothing scent to work its magic on you and your practice. Take a deep breathe in…
Yoga and essential oils on their own are well practiced across cultures and times for their known physical and psychological benefits. Bringing Yoga and Aromatherapy together using pure essential oils enhances the yoga practice by combining their wonderful therapeutic properties.
Breath work (Pranayama) is an essential part of yoga practice. Yoga poses on its own without the breath work is only a physical workout but it is through the combination of breath work and yoga that we reap the benefits of balancing the body and mind. There is a very direct relationship between breath rate, state of mind, the autonomic nervous system (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and restore) function in our body. Fast breathing pings the brain at a higher rate, triggering it to activate the sympathetic nervous system, turning up stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, sweat production, and anxiety. On the other hand, slowing your breathing induces the parasympathetic response, dialling down all of the above as it turns up relaxation, calm, and mental clarity. Through our yoga practice, we regulate breath work to induce this parasympathetic response to calm and relax.
With the importance of breath, what we are breathing in is as important as the technique we practice. When we inhale essential oils through the nose, the molecules interact with all the physical organs and cells relating to the sense of smell (olfactory organs) and almost immediately with our emotional brain (Limbic System). The emotional brain is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. This relationship helps explain why smells often trigger emotions. Knowing this, we can scientifically explain how inhalation of essential oils can have some very profound physiological and psychological effects.
Together we combine the target benefits of yoga poses with the target benefits of the essential oil or blends to enhance and deepen the practice. Through properly guided practice, you can release your blocked energies, soothe and balance your emotions, support your confidence, and alleviate fears and other negative emotions, bringing you to a place of peace, harmony, and balance within yourself.
Let’s come back to the scene. It is the end of your practice while you relax completely in savasana, with the scent of the aromatherapy still lingering around you. Your thoughts are connected with your heart, while your heart is connected to you at your present moment.
Written By: Adeline Lee, Nila Aromatherapy Bar & Serene Leijdekkers, April 14th, 2016
Images Credit: DepositPhotos