The five principles of Yoga are exercise, deep rhythmic breathing, release of tension, relaxation and meditation. The physical exercises are the Asanas, various stretching poses that have many health benefits including increased flexibility and strength. Deep breathing encourages the flow of prana (life) energy around the body and helps aid relaxation and meditation.
Aroma Yoga classes
Aromatherapy can enhance the benefits of Yoga and many practitioners are now combining the two disciplines in fusion classes called Aroma Yoga. In a typical session you would use essential oils to open up nasal passageways and facilitate deep breathing, or blends to awaken the senses and increase your focus or to promote calm and peace. Aroma Yoga teachers often work with the Chakras and combine asana poses with oils aligned to certain energy points. To find your nearest class type 'Aroma Yoga' into an internet search engine.
How do you combine Yoga and aromatherapy? First you nee to identify your client's needs. Start with Yoga. What is their reason for coming to a class? Do they want to work on the balancing poses to improve coordination and equilibrium of the mind and body? Now choose an essential oils that will complement these postures. For example, basil oil is an excellent tonic for the mind and helps to clarify the senses. It brings a greater sense of awareness, aiding focus and balance. Alternatively, the client may want to focus on power postures to invigorate the body. In this case you may choose an energising spice oil.
As with any aromatherapy treatment, once you have chosen an oil that the client likes check to ensure there are no contraindications.
With so much information about aromatherapy and Yoga at your fingertips, how do you put it all together? Find out how to select essential oils to complement your postures.
Aromatherapy and the 12 Asanas
It is possible to choose a different essential oil to complement each asana.
For example, the Scorpion pose aids circulation and deep breathing, which improves concentration by supplying the brain with oxygen-rich blood. Burning oils to stimulate the circulation and respiration will maximise the benefits of this pose.
Peppermint oil improves circulation and also stimulates the production of red blood cells in the spleen, while thyme oil has an expectorant actions that helps improve respiration.
If you are performing the Bow to aid with digestive discomforts, choose digestive tonics such as palmarosa oil (good for sluggish digestive systems) or sage (for digestion and liver congestion). These could be applied as an abdominal massage blend.
Unfortunately, it isn't practical to use more than one or two blends in a single Yoga session. Using an individual blend to complement each asana would create an unpleasant smell in the room and confuse the senses.
Therefore, identify your primary need. For example if your nervous system needs strengthening you should perform a series of sitting bends using oils that balance and uplift the nervous system such as petitgrain.
Many people turn to aromatherapy and Yoga to relieve the stress of everyday living. Combined, the two disciplines can create a profound sense of peace and tranquillity.
The Lotus is a classic pose used for meditation and pranayama (breathing) exercises. When performing the Lotus select essential oils that are known to calm the mind or aid the respiratory system. Oils such as frankincense not only calm the mind, but also promotes slow, deep breathing.
Frankincense blends well with myrrh, which has an expectorant action on the respiration system.
Healing the Chakras
Some practitioners combine Chakra work with Yoga and aromatherapy. If you're fighting tiredness your Root Chakra may need stimulating and you're advised to use oils such as cedarwood, vetivert and pine. Then choose a suitable Yoga pose.
A sluggish Stomach Chakra may be stimulated with abdominal exercises, so perform a series of Yoga poses that work the abdominal muscles such as the Bridge and the Bow.