The yoga mat is a powerful place to bring emotions, truth and awareness to the surface.
Weaving essential oils into your yoga practice complements this process as they affect both your mood and emotions on a conscious and subconscious level. I consider essential oils to be high vibrational healing tools (more information on this below) that work with your body innate ability to heal and thrive.
1. nervous system
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and sympathetic nervous system (SNS) work together to help us cope with the normal every day stressors. Our daily life brings a myriad of stresses that activate the SNS – also known as “fight or flight” reaction in your body. The PNS and SNS can be considered like a seesaw as in when one goes up the other goes down. Yoga activates the PNS “wine and dine reaction” or calm down in the body and brings balance to the seesaw. We also have our own “peace guru” nerve in the PNS – the Vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve in your body. It is a very long nerve running from the hypothalamus area of your brain, chest, diaphragm, and to your intestines. The Vagus nerve acts as a “reset” button after your internal alarm system has been set off – i.e., in response to some type of perceived threat (a stress response). This nerve then communicates with the rest of your body to tell you that the threat is gone and that all your bodily functions can now return to normal, healing mode. Your cortisol levels are reduced, and your body and brain heals. There are many ways to trigger activity in the vagus nerves – the good news is we cover a lot of these in the average yoga class. – conscious relaxation (savasana, yoga nidra), conscious breathing (pranayama), cardio activity, inversions, meditation, essential oils/herbs, expressing your emotions.
Proper use of essential oils during meditation can enhance the experience by grounding and promoting a sense of calm. Essential oils like Vetiver, Sandalwood (considered one of the most sacred oils), Cedarwood and Patchouli are considered grounding and centring for both mind and body. Other oils like Clary Sage, Lavender and Roman Chamomile act as natural sedatives and can enhance the relaxed state of meditation. Oils like Helichrysum and Frankincense are said to enhance enlightenment and a spiritual connection with the divine. Frankincense is “the oil of truth”. You can use a selected essential oil as part of your sadhana (daily spiritual practice) to prepare yourself and to create a sacred space for your meditation practice.
3. CHAKRAS ARE ENERGY CENTERS
Chakra’s are the energy centres in your body through which energy flows. We can use essential oils to help bring balance to an underactive or overactive chakra. We use essential oils that are vibrating at the same frequency of that chakra. Restoring harmony and order to the energy of the chakra will return it to a state of health--i.e., will heal it. Something to note when using essential oils from a healing perspective is that the oils help those that are ready and open for the potential for transformation/growth/healing, right oil, right person, right time in life. Check out the ebook series I have created going deeper into this topic.
figure 3. chakra system
4. vibration and essential oils
figure 4. vibration & oils
- OM sound & symbol
We use the power of vibration in our yoga practice when we chant Om, use mantra’s, the singing bowls and perform certain pranayama techniques (Bhramari pranayama). The sound Om, when chanted, vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz, which is the same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature. We traditionally chant Om at the beginning and end of yoga sessions – it rounds out or “book ends” the experience. Om is more than a sound it is the vibration of the universe. It is the frequency of energy that connects and joins all things together. Essential oils can be considered vibrational healing tools – they have scientiﬁcally measurable high frequencies. The vibrational frequency of essential oils is measured in megahertz (abbreviated MHz), which cycle at a rate much faster than electricity, equal to 1,000,000 cycles per second. Bruce Tainio of Tainio Technology developed equipment to measure the frequency or life force in essential oils. Taino determined that general human healthy frequency is within the range of 62-68 MHz and when at lower levels, a variety of diseases can appear. Not all essential oils have the same vibrational frequency for example Lavender is around 120 MHz whereas Rose is 320 MHz.
Essential oils combined with yoga allows us to re-align our body’s vibrational frequency the natural way, helping to restore harmony to our health and wellbeing on all levels. Essential oils combined with yoga really raises your vibration giving you a completely natural high!
In ancient times, essential oils were used by priests and priestesses of all religions to ward off evil spirits and some to anoint. One of the most interesting aspect of the spiritual significance of essential oils is their impact on the pineal gland. The pineal gland is pea sized, located exactly in the centre of the brain, and is part of the limbic system. As we already know essential oils immediately enter this part of the brain and, therefore, stimulate the pineal gland.
The pineal gland is known as the body’s 3rd eye and is responsible for intuition. Its name is derived from the Latin root word “pinea”, which means pinecone. The pinecone has been used for thousands of years in a symbolic way by the Greeks, Romans and even the Vatican, sitting atop of the Pope’s staff. When dissected, the pineal gland looks like an actual eye. The pineal gland can easily get calcified from heavy metals, petrochemicals, fluoride and other toxic chemicals in our day to day environment. Because essential oils are lipid soluble and have properties that can assist the body in decalcification, they can aid one in maintaining a healthier pineal gland. Furthermore, just the inhaling of essential oils is stimulating to the pineal. A healthier, stimulated pineal gland allows for deeper spiritual experiences. Using clary sage (“third eye chakra” essential oil and “the oil of clarity & vision”) on your third eye prior to meditation or a yoga nidra can be very powerful.
figure 5. spirituality & oils through the pineal gland
6. PHYSICAL BENEFITS
Most essential oils are high in anti-inflammatory properties, which are critical to the healing process of an overworked or injured body. When applied to sore muscles after a yoga class, essential oils can assist the body in recovering. Topical application is best with a carrier oil. Eucalyptus, wintergreen and peppermint are three oils that are very high in anti-inflammatory properties. Clove is an analgesic and is super rich in anti-oxidants, which means it naturally deadens pain and help fight free radicals. Basil is an anti-spasmodic. Muscle tiredness or soreness can be soothed after exercise or your yoga practice by using essential oils blends. Essential oils bring the body into balance, supporting the body’s innate healing ability with no side effects; unlike pharmaceuticals which typically suppress the immune system and create another set of physical symptoms in the body. Essential oils work fast - in 22 seconds, the essential oil molecules will have reached your brain, in 2 minutes they will be found in your blood stream and in 20 minutes they will have an affect every cell in your body. Potent plant power.
7. SCENT MEMORY
Scent impulses reach the area of the brain that handles emotional memories (the limbic brain). This is also a real source of power both on and off the mat – lavender essential oil commonly used during savasana and associated with relaxation and letting go – you can recreate this state off the mat and in your life when a stressful situation is coming up by simply inhaling some lavender essential oil. What is happening is deepening of the neural pathway in the brain that associates the aroma of lavender with relaxation and letting go.
“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away.”
― Helen Keller
Essential oils and yoga work together to peel away emotional layers – the most noticeable benefit, in my opinion in combining these two practices is in the emotional work.
The limbic system in the brain contains a structure called the “amygdala” – this is the emotional control centre of the body. Inhaling essential oils is the fastest way to get to the emotional centre of the brain thereby immediately affecting your mood. The “emotional brain” responds only to smell. Combining yoga and essential oils include a foundational understanding of all matter as energy. When we experience and hold onto emotions we bring our energy field out of balance, we cause our body and mind to be out of alignment. This creates stress on the body and prana/life force energy is not flowing freely. Essential and yoga create a powerful synergy – both are effective on a gross and subtle level. Practicing asanas (yoga poses) activates the prana in the body and helps move out all the energies and emotions we store in our muscles, body tissues, and even our cells. Essential oils TURBO CHARGES this action. We can prevent emotional traumas from becoming energetically trapped in the body.
Using an essential oil or an aromatic substance to quieten the mind is not new (Sanskrit word is “gandha”)– the ancient yogi’s and sages used Sandalwood and Cedarwood incense prior to yoga/meditation. What happens is that the thinking front part of the brain is quietened or relaxed and the back brain (specifically the limbic system) is directly accessed via our sense of smell. The limbic system is the area of the brain that regulates emotion and memory -it is involved in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. Our sense of smell is the only one of our five senses directly linked to the limbic brain – inhale essential oils to calm everything down and tune in deeper to ourselves.
figure 9. quietening the mind
Essential oils embody the regenerating, protective and immune strengthening properties of plants – by using essential oils we are harnessing these properties. I like to consider them as “smart plant medicine”. Mother natures is always giving us clues as to the beneficial use of plants. Essential oils from leaves for example peppermint, spearmint or eucalyptus are great for supporting breathing – like in a plant the gaseous exchange happens at the leaves also. Essential oils from flowers for example geranium are usually very heady and associated with the heart chakra – the appearance of the small pink pretty blooms always suggest an open heart to me.
Essential oils from roots and trees are very grounding and centring and fortifying. Mother nature truly knows best. In our yoga practice, we tune into the living wisdom of our body and combining this with the healing properties of plants can have transformative results. Our innate body wisdom support by the power of Mother nature.
8. EMOTIONAL HEALING
9. QUIETEN THE MIND
10.MOTHER NATURE GIVING US A HELPING HAND
figure 10. mother nature giving us a helping hand
the essential yogi
the living wisdom of yoga combined with the power of plants
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