3 Beginner Tips for Using Aromatherapy in Your Home Yoga Practice

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!


9 Things Yogis Can Do to Prepare for a Good Night's Sleep

9 Things Yogis Can Do to Prepare for a Good Night's Sleep

Making sleep a priority is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. By making sure you get enough good quality sleep every night, you not only set yourself up for a great next day, but a long and healthy life too.

Whether you’re an aspiring yogi, a beginner yogi, an intermediate yogi, or even an advanced yogi, you can take advantage of the following tips to improve your sleep naturally.

 

1. Refrain from Stimulating Devices and Activities

The earlier in the evening that you can turn off the TV, put your smartphone away, stop working, or finish any vigorous exercise, the better! Plan to do this an hour before turning in at the very least.

 

2. Snack on Sleep-Friendly Foods

If you’re hungry before bed, light snack can actually help you sleep better. Go for complex carbohydrates combined with lean protein that ideally contains the amino acids tryptophan (such as chicken/turkey breast, tuna, cheese, nuts, seeds, and beans). Tryptophan is known to boost serotonin levels, which helps promote sleep.

 

3. Darken Your Environment

You don’t have to sit around in a pitch dark room, but less light will certainly help your body adjust and get the signal to prepare for sleep. Instead of simply dimming the lights, try lighting some candles for enhanced relaxation.

 

4. Listen to Soothing Music or Sounds

Classical, ambient, and smooth jazz are perfect music genres for winding down. Alternatively, you could try listening to some sound effects like ocean waves, rain, thunderstorms, birds, or frogs to help you get in touch with nature.

 

5. Mindfully Prep for the Night and Next Day

Without any stimulating devices or activities to indulge in before bed, you can take the extra time you have to carry out your evening routine and plan for tomorrow. Take a relaxing bath, moisturize your entire body, brush your teeth extra well, pick out what you want to wear, make your lunch, and do whatever else you need to do while practicing mindfulness.

 

6. Do a Bit of Journaling

The evening is the perfect time to do a bit of a mind dump through writing. Grab your journal and and a pen to write what simply comes to mind. You may wish to reflect on your day, write about how you feel, or plan for what you want to do tomorrow.

 

7. Lower the Thermostat (Or Crack a Window)

Cooler body temperatures help promote sleep, so set your thermostat to adjust the temperature to somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the hours you plan to sleep. During slightly warmer weather in the spring, summer, and autumn months, you can even leave the window open.

 

8. Settle Your Mind With Aromatherapy

Essential oils have natural healing properties that can relax the mind and help you prepare for sleep. Whether you choose to gently inhale the aromas or put a few drops on your pillow is completely up to you. Here are seven essential oils known to have calm and soothing effect on the mind.

 

9. Get in Touch With Your Breath and Body

Last but not least, don’t forget about the practice of yoga itself to help you sleep. Poses like legs up the wall, supine spinal twist, reclining goddess pose, child’s pose, and happy baby are just a few to consider trying—many of which you can do directly in bed. If meditation is a better alternative for you in the evening hours, try these three deep breathing techniques to calm your mind and body in preparation for sleep.


8 Simple and Practical Ways to Enhance Your Meditation Space

8 Simple and Practical Ways to Enhance Your Meditation Space

You can certainly mediate almost anywhere that’s relatively quiet and free from distraction, but making a welcoming space for meditation can help you relax more easily whenever you sit down for your practice.

Here are a few good tips for creating a meditation space that soothes your mind and gets you in touch with your true self.

 

1. Pick a space that makes you feel calm.

Most people don’t have an entire room to dedicate to meditation, which is why it’s fine to pick any space in your bedroom, living room, guest room or other room that is easy to relax in. During the warmer seasons, you could even take your meditation outdoors to your backyard or patio.

 

2. Consider the sound you want to tune into while meditating.

Quiet spaces are best for meditation, but if you like a little background noise, you could choose a space near a window if you like listening to the traffic in the distance, in front of an analog clock if you prefer the ticking noise of the second hand, or somewhere near a sound system so you can put some ambient music on low volume.

 

3. Remove clutter.

Physical clutter will make it more difficult to detach from thoughts, so make sure to consider finding a new home for anything that doesn’t serve your meditation practice. Since your meditation spaces might also double as a regular living space, however, you can certainly get away with leaving a few items—as long as they don’t distract you or trigger negative thoughts and feelings.

 

4. Make sure you have something comfortable to sit on.

Some people like to meditate on their couches or in their lounge chairs while others like to meditate on their beds or on the floor. Pick a seat you know you’ll be comfortable sitting on, taking into consideration your poster, the softness/hardness of your seat, and whether you want to have your legs straight out in front of you or bent.

 

5. Bring a few elements of nature into your space.

Nature will help ground you as you prepare to sit down to meditate, so decorating your space with natural items can enhance this effect. You could try adding a houseplant, a piece of driftwood, a few stones, some seashells or even some artwork of a natural landscape.

 

6. Use a blanket, throw, quilt, or scarf to help keep yourself warm.

Resting in one spot without moving, slowing the breath, and calming the mind can have a cooling effect on body temperature, which is why it can be worthwhile to keep something around to cover up with before you start. Yogi Surprise members of our Lifestyle Box will receive a gorgeous drape scarf from Rising Tide this November to help stay warm during meditation.

 

7. Add a little aromatherapy.

Certain essential oils can be used to calm the mind, improve focus, and boost concentration—making them perfect for meditation. Consider investing in a simple essential oil diffuser or creating an aromatic lotion by combining your favorites with some carrier oil (like coconut oil). Among the best to use for meditation include lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, bergamot, cedarwood, and rose.

 

8. Put a mantra somewhere to remind you of what you want to concentrate on.

This one allows you to get as crafty as you’d like—perhaps painting a one-word mantra like “love” or “gratitude” and framing it or carving it into a patch of bark you found on the ground outside. Or you could simply write it out on a plain piece of paper and keep it in your space just like that to keep it super simple.


Soothing Aromatherapy Oils to Bring Balance to Your Mind

7 Soothing Aromatherapy Oils to Bring Balance to Your Mind

Negative thoughts and emotions can significantly impact your life and well-being. Although you may not be able to control or ignore those thoughts and emotions (nor is it all that effective in the long-term to even try), you can at least take advantage of the many natural therapies available to help balance out your state of mind and stress-related tension running through your body.

Aromatherapy is just one of those natural therapies that can offer nearly instant positive effects. All you have to do is obtain an essential oil with mind-balancing properties to diffuse in a room (or in your yoga space), combine with carrier oil for a fragrant lotion, drop into a bath, sprinkle on your pillow before med, gently inhale before meditation, or use in massage therapy.

Here are just seven essential oils that are known to help balance emotions, improve mood, and help bring clarity to your mind.

 

Lemon

All citrus essential oils have a positive, uplifting effect on the mind that can really come in handy when you’re feeling down in the dumps, but perhaps none is as powerful as lemon. Lemon essential oil can help combat feelings of anger, burnout, depression, fear, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, and even grief.

 

Frankincense

Centuries ago, frankincense was considered more valuable than gold for its incredible therapeutic properties. When you feel like your mind is all over the place and keeping negative thoughts at bay seems nearly impossible, look toward frankincense essential oil to help improve focus and boost concentration while minimizing irritability and restlessness.

 

Rose

When you really need to get back in touch with your higher self so you can spread kindness and compassion while embodying love and joy, rose essential oil can certainly help. Rose helps get rid of your worries and reduces self-centered feelings like jealousy and fear so you can open yourself up to the world around you.

 

Bergamot

Part of the citrus family, bergamot is another essential oil that’s well known for its mood-balancing properties. Use this uplifting essential oil anytime you’re dealing with emotional stress, anxiety, sadness, confusion, depression, or poor concentration to calm those feelings and give yourself a much needed emotional boost.

 

Clary Sage

Clary sage works to balance a wide range of negative emotions and may be especially helpful for women suffering from the effects of hormonal fluctuations during their menstrual cycles. Whether you’re feeling out of control due to anger and aggression or stressed out with excessive worry and anxiety, clary sage is a powerful essential oil that can help.

 

Roman Chamomile

In autumn when excess vata is a risk, roman chamomile can aid in balancing out vata-related feelings of anxiety. This calming essential oil is also especially helpful in reducing destructive emotions like anger, aggression, recklessness, and impulsiveness—so keep it handy for when you’re feeling a little hot-headed.

 

Lavender

Lavender is the most popular essential of all for its versatile uses and wide range of healing properties—and this is especially true for its calming and relaxing effects on the mind. The aroma of lavender is powerful enough stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which govern’s the body’s “rest and digest” system. For everything from anxiety and panic, to mood swings and nervous tension, lavender can do some pretty remarkable things to hep bring the mind and body back to equilibrium.

Image (edited) via Your Best Digs on Flickr