Many yogis admit that the biggest benefit of choosing to practice at home rather than in a class at a studio is the freedom. When you practice at home, you can tailor your practice however you want—right down to the look and feel of your yoga space.
Aromatherapy is just one way you can personalize and enhance your home yoga practice. While many teachers do incorporate aromatherapy into their classes, doing it yourself while practicing at home means you have full control over the selection and/or blend of oils, the dosages, the type of aromatherapy tool or technique to be used, and when or how aromatherapy will be used throughout your practice.
If you’re considering the use of aromatherapy in your own home yoga practice, but don’t really know where to start, here are a few simple tips to help get the ball rolling.
Choose Oils With Healing Properties That Match the Focus of Your Practice
It’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with how certain oils affect the mind and body. For example, if you’re doing an evening practice to help you fall asleep, lemon essential oil might not be the best choice since it’s known for helping to eliminate fatigue and wake up the mind.
Here are some recommended essential oils to use based on the theme or the intention of your practice:
Energizing essential oils: Orange, lime, grapefruit, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, basil, lemongrass
Calming essential oils: Lavender, rose, vetiver, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile, frankincense
Grounding essential oils: Cedarwood, myrrh, patchouli, black spruce, sandalwood, cinnamon, rosewood
Decide on an Aromatherapy Tool or Technique Based on Your Practice and Personal Preferences
Five of the most common aromatherapy tools and techniques include:
- Lighting essential oil candles
- Burning essential oil incense sticks
- Diffusing essential oil diffusers
- Applying essential oil lotions (diluted with carrier oil)
- Spritzing essential oil sprays (diluted with water)
Candles, incense, and diffusers are ideal if you want to enjoy the aromas as a constant flow throughout the entire course of your practice. If, however, you’d prefer to focus on the aromas at specific points along your practice—such as at the beginning in meditation or at the end in savasana—you might want to opt for a spray or lotion to spritz or apply at that specific point.
Remember to Put Your Safety First
It had to be said. Anything with a flame and all essential oils need to be used with care and caution.
Candles and incense: Place candles or incense on a flat surface and away from any items or materials that can easily catch fire (such as wood furniture, drapes, books, blankets, etc.). Make sure they’re far enough out of reach that you can’t knock them over when moving around and extending your limbs during your practice. Pick a space with good ventilation (and crack open a window if necessary). Extinguish immediately after you’re practice.
Essential oils applied to the skin: Perform a skin patch test to make sure you won’t react to the essential oil or oils of your choice. Always make sure to dilute your oils properly and avoid ingesting them or getting them anywhere near your eyes. If using a spray, keep your eyes and mouth closed while spritzing over your body. If using a lotion, avoid applying around the eyes and to any areas of the body that need to grip your mat, such as the hands and wrists.
Essential oils in general: Before you use oils in your practice, try using a tool or technique of your choice while doing something like household chores, relaxing on the couch, or working just to see if you’ll like the aroma for more than a brief period. It’s easier to test the aroma for an extended period of time while doing something easy and mundane rather than expecting to love it all the way through an hour-long yoga session!