by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac. ~
Essential Oils – On and Off the Yoga Mat
Essential oils have so many uses in yoga practice, both on and off the mat. I have a core group I recommend, such as eucalyptus, juniper, lavender, orange, rosemary, rosewood, tea tree, and thyme. These essential oils work as a calmative, an antiseptic, diuretic and infection fighter. These select oils are simply a jumping point for you to start discovering these wonderful “scent tools.”
Essential oils are, first of all, the pure essence of plants, extracted for their healing, cleansing, and magical properties. The olfactory nerves in the brain work by transporting us, encouraging us or relaxing us through the power of scent. To benefit from all the rich aspects essential oils have to offer, it is important to look at each one’s structural source. This is as an individual and unique frame of reference that may aid in yoga practice and beyond. The therapeutic “signature” of each plant, tree or fruit, is its essence, or essential oil.
Recommended Essential Oils for Yoga Practice
Eucalyptus: This oil is best to know as a decongestant for colds, as being a powerful antibacterial and antiviral. Good for use in rheumatism pain, it also promotes cell regeneration and regulates the oiliness of the skin. Increases circulation and helps stabilize blood sugar.
Off the mat: add 30 drops of eucalyptus oil to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil (jojoba, vegetable, olive oil). Massage into stiff joints.
Juniper: This oil is an antiseptic, diuretic and fights infection. In addition, it is excellent for its detoxification properties. Juniper is also a good oil for skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis.
Warning: Avoid during pregnancy. Activates the kidneys. Consult your healthcare provider with kidney problems.
On the mat: Inhale this stimulating oil directly out of the bottle. One nostril then the other, before class to encourage a more focused and energized practice.
Off the mat: add 20 drops of juniper oil to 2 tablespoons of carrier oil (jojoba, vegetable, olive oil). Massage into any small eczema patches, dermatitis or heat rash.
Lavender: This oil is an amazing therapeutic oil. Lavender stimulates new cell growth, lifts depression, calms nerves, fights infection, reduces inflammation, and eases congestion. It also relieves pain, muscle spasms, and lowers blood pressure.
Off the mat: 100 uses including massage oil, de-stressor oil, room freshener.
Orange: Stimulates lymphatic circulation, improves immunity, fights infection, reduces inflammation, relieves muscle spasm, eases digestive disorders. In addition, it cools fever and warms chills, calms nerves, diminishes depression.
On the mat: add 15 drops of orange oil to a cloth and massage into your yoga mat. Removes residue and negativity!
Rosemary: Stimulates the adrenal glands, circulatory system, liver, gallbladder, promotes nerve health, improves the functioning of the heart and nervous system. Rosemary also tones and tightens the skin, regulates oil secretion, fights infection, joint pain, muscle spasms, and eases digestive orders.
On the mat: Massage 10 drops of this oil into your abdomen and 3 drops into your temples, right before class. Improves circulation, focus and awareness.
Rosewood: helps relieve pain, fights infection, and can diminish depression. Rosewood also stimulates the brain, clears the head, improves immunity, helps skin disorders, and stimulates sexual desire.
On the mat: This is a wonderful oil to diffuse during class time. Add 15 drops to an electric or candle diffuser and let the scent permeate the room.
Off the mat: Add 10 drops rosewood oil into 2 tablespoons of carrier oil (jojoba, vegetable, olive oil). Massage into ligaments and muscles after a long, hard class.
Tea Tree: fights infection, and fungi, soothes skin disorders and heals wounds. It also releases mucous, relieves respiratory congestion, increases immunity, and kills insects. Thus, it is excellent for foot, nail fungus, and athlete’s foot.
Warning: May be irritating to sensitive skin.
Off the mat: Massage a few drops of tea tree oil directly to your feet and nails, about an hour before bedtime.
Thyme: fights infection, improves immunity, and eases the pain of arthritis. In addition, thyme eases muscle pain, improves digestion, and relieves urinary tract infection and respiratory ailments. It improves circulation elevates coughs, improves lung function. Thyme also overcomes emotional fatigue, nervousness, and stress regulates oiliness of skin, regulates skin disorders.
Warning: Avoid during pregnancy, or if you have hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure. Furthermore, it can irritate or sensitize skin and mucous membranes, stimulates menstrual flow.
On the mat: This is another great oil to diffuse during class time. Add 10 drops thyme oil to an electric or candle diffuser and let the scent permeate the room. Primarily used for respiratory issues, it also works as a great air freshener.
Off the mat: Add 3-5 drops of oil to a cup of water and massage into cuts, bruises or to disinfect wounds.