One of the most joyful aspects of yoga for many practitioners is the way yoga seems to enhance the intuition and the senses. After a good practice, a yogi may more acutely perceive the world around her. For many, practicing with very minimal external stimulation (e.g. music, room fragrance) is just right. For the rest of us, this time of heightened physical awareness makes us crave other stimuli to compliment our experience. Perhaps you feel truly in the “yoga zone” when you’re playing your sun salutation playlist. Maybe you like to open the windows or practice outside. If you’re like me, you enjoy setting the mood for your practice with fragrance.
I love lighting a candle (or three) before beginning my practice. Recently, I’ve been exploring the world of essential oils, and I’ve become a bit obsessed with using an essential oil diffuser. Filling the room with a special (natural) fragrance is a great way to signal to your mind that “yoga time starts now.” You can also tailor your blends to support the intentions of your practice. For example, calming blends that soothe the nerves are perfect for a restorative evening practice while bright, invigorating blends are ideal for getting you fired up during your morning sun salutations.
The following are a few suggested blends to use with your yoga practice. The options for blends are truly endless, so think of this list as a starting point. All oils listed below may be combined in a 1:1:1 ratio unless you prefer otherwise. Before getting started on you yoga-essential oil journey, please review these essential oil safety tips.
Essential Oil Blends for Yoga
Clove + Ylang Ylang + Geranium
Clove is a spicy, comforting oil that grounds the bright floral essence of ylang ylang (which may be my favorite oil of all times). Geranium softens the blend and lifts the spirit (geranium is celebrated for its antidepressant properties).
Focus, Mental Clarity:
Mint (I use peppermint) + Eucalyptus + Lavender
For those days when mental fog seems to reign—mint combined with the crisp, medicinal notes of eucalyptus instantly freshen the surrounding air while lavender soothes the nerves. For an even brighter blend, swap out lemon for eucalyptus.
Frankincense + Jasmine + Clary Sage
Long held as a sanctifying oil, frankincense was used in incense in China, India, and the Catholic Church in western Europe. Indeed, frankincense is an oil for the soul. Jasmine provides a beautiful, sensual note while clary sage serves as a mild, euphoria-inducing sedative.
Inner Fire (Rise and Shine!):
Bergamot + Lemon + Rose
Bergamot and lemon are both citrus oils, and together, they create a joyful, fruity fragrance. Rose, a deep floral, adds a sensual layer to the blend. For a more grounded blend, add a few drops of cypress oil.
Chamomile + Petitgrain + Vetiver
This non-intrusive blend is gentle on the senses. Chamomile essential oil smells pretty much like chamomile tea–so soothing. Petitgrain, which is produced from the leaves of the same tree that produces orange blossom oil, has a fresh, floral-citrus fragrance with a woody undertone. Vetiver has an earthy scent and lends a sedative quality to the blend.
If you’re looking for a shortcut for amazing yoga-friendly essential oil blends (not all of us are interested in curating a library of essential oils!), check out Edens Garden Yoga Set, three “synergy blends” formulated for Cleaning (perhaps to be used in a DIY yoga mat spray!), Meditation, and Quiet Time.
Various Ways to Use the Blends
—Essential oil diffuser. (Read more about those here.)
—DIY room spray. Follow this Hello Glow recipe for an easy, DIY essential oil air freshener. In a small spray bottle, combine 1 tablespoon of vodka with 6 tablespoons of filtered water. Add 10-40 drops of essential oils of your choice.
—Essential oil-diffusing jewelry. Holy moly, these essential oil-vessel necklaces by VLTA are too pretty.
—Neat application. Neat application is the direct application of a very small amount of essential oils to your pulse points (à la perfume). Before applying essential oil directly to your skin, do a bit of research to make sure the oils are safe for skin (i.e. non-irritating, non-sensitizing). Here is a collection of safety data sheets on the most common essential oils.
Do you use essential oils with your yoga practice? What are your favorite blends?
Related: Using Chakra Oils for Meditation and Beauty
Intoxicating Natural Perfume Oils by Grasse Roots Perfumery
Using Mala Beads in Your Yoga Practice
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Photo: Mary Hood Luttrell