Before I jump into the many wonders of essential oils and how they can enhance your yoga practice, I want to share a little bit about my own history with yoga and oils. Not because it’s particularly interesting or moving but because I want to speak directly to those of you who think one or both of these things are not for you. When I was first introduced to essential oils, I was game for trying anything to help support my family’s health so that was easy. They worked and I was hooked. When it came to yoga, not so much. I resisted giving it a real shot for ten solid years. Solid. I mean, I knew it had health benefits. All my friends were doing it. I read the articles and even bought some yoga pants because they were comfy but actually getting on the mat and doing the damn thing was a no go. Here were my reasons (read: excuses). Maybe you’ve felt the same way, maybe not. My joints hurt holding poses. It was boring. It was awkward. It seemed to take forever. I was afraid of doing it wrong. What was the point? Hashtag eye roll.
Fast forward nine years and two kids later. My lower back is totally out of whack. My hips hurt. My ankles are tired. I feel like a worn out old lady, not a 33 year old woman. I manage the pain using ice packs, essential oils and the occasional muscle relaxer but the pain comes and goes regardless. The occasional massage helped too so I went to give it a shot and as the therapist worked on me, she noticed areas on my body, calves and thighs in particular, that had what she describes as a massive wall of muscle putting added tension and pressure on my joints. Awesome. According to her, these built up over a long period of time and she firmly suggested that I start doing yoga. I was really hoping she could just fix me and I could be on my way but apparently this would take more than one massage to resolve. There was something about they way she said “you need to do yoga” that stayed with me. Over the next few weeks, I gradually began to realize that I was going to have to do things differently if I wanted to improve my quality of life. So I looked into some online yoga classes and asked my friends for recommendations and then made up my mind that if I was going to do this, I might as well just DO IT. Lucky for me, my pal Stephanie Moon, recommended the YouTube channel, Yoga With Adriene and it was just what I needed to get me started on my mat. If you don’t follow Adriene’s ‘yoga channel, you are missing out, my friend. She makes yoga accessible to everyone and helped me understand, for the first time, that yoga wasn’t about having perfect form or that you had to have a certain body type to do it well. It is truly for everyone and actually quite simple. Like with so many things in life, the hardest part is just saying yes. So, finally, after ten ears of resisting, I gave into it and jumped in. What happened next will be no surprise to you. I found relief, joy, healing, rest and a more authentic connection with myself than I had ever given myself permission to even look for. I am still a total amateur at yoga but so glad I leaned into it and opened that door that been waiting for me for so long.
Now let’s talk about how oils fit in. If you have some knowledge about essential oils, you know they can be a powerful tool for supporting a healthy lifestyle. Much like yoga, they help us make a mind/body connection in a completely natural way without forcing abrupt change on our bodies. Essential oils can elevate our mood, relax our stressed mind and promote a sense of grounding so our body can function at it’s optimal capacity. Funny, those words all describe yoga too. When you combine the chemical properties of essential oils and the healing power of breath through yoga, what you have is a richer experience and a more connected practice that will have lasting effects on your health.
Here are my top picks, on and off the mat.
These oils can be diffused in the room during your practice or applied topically before, during and after yoga. Inhaling the aroma of the oils triggers responses in the brain that have a direct effect on the limbic system. This effect has been shown to support emotional balance, mood stability, focus and mental clarity. Beyond that, oils that come from trees, such as the Idaho Balsam Fir can help us establish a connection to the earth and the electrical frequencies of the oils actually help elevate our own so we literally vibrate at a higher frequency as a result of using them. Supported by mindful breathing throughout the practice, these oils have a powerful impact on our mind and body.
I don’t need to be the one to tell you that stress wreaks havoc on your body. The evidence of this is overwhelming. So what do we do? Sadly, many of us allow it to take over our bodies to the point of utter exhaustion. Why is it so many of us suffer from adrenal fatigue, heart conditions, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and digestive imbalances? Many signs point to stress and it’s only getting worst as the busyness of our lives demands more from us every day and we continue to define our success by how much we are able to produce. Even worse, feeling the physical manifestation of stress in our lives has become the new normal and we can all relate. My hope, if you’ve managed to stay awake this long, is that you’ll come away with an open mind toward essential oils and yoga as a combined tool for loving and caring for yourself. It is going to cost you time and money? Probably some, maybe less than you think but whatever the cost, you’re worth it and in my opinion, you can’t afford not to at least take a look at something as simple as mindful breathing, meditation, yoga and oils and makes some room in your daily routine for self care.