Experimenting with Essential Oils in Yoga Class

I’ve always have liked essential oils. For me, it increases the pampering and pleasant experiences of wonderful things like getting a massage, facial and even yoga classes. I even like to add essential oils to my bath water, foot bath water, and candle warmers or diffusers for my home.

Since I teach yoga, I’ve wanted to include the essential oil experience into my classes. Just recently, I started exploring the idea and introducing my classes to them. Before I brought oils into class, I felt like I needed to do some research as I am a novice with so much to learn. For instance, I was curious as to what types of oils I should use for various effects. Also, I was concerned about application. Do I apply oils to the skin and if so where/how? Do I spritz oil around the room and if I did this, what would be the best technique? Or do I invest in a diffuser? Additionally, I casually brought up the idea in my yoga classes a few weeks in advance in order to get a feel for their thoughts and to get them to digest the idea. At the very least, I’d get feedback as to whether or not I should even bother. Good news, they were open to the addition of essential oils in our yoga class.

HERE IS WHAT I’VE LEARNED:

Sensitivity: In my investigation, I’ve learned that some people are very sensitive to smell, usually fragrance more so than essential oils. If you want to minimize aggravation, it is best to use essential oils that are “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG).” Never the less, various aromas/scents can cause migraines in some people so a best practice is to always ask your classes up front before you use the oil. If one person says NO, then don’t use the essential oil. The last thing you want to do is give someone a migraine!

Application: If you plan to apply oil directly to skin, it is important to know whether or not the oil will cause irritation. (If applied undiluted, it is considered a “neat” application). If you don’t know sensitivity, then I’d definitely recommend that you dilute the oil into a “carrier oil.” Carrier oils will dilute the oil and aid in absorption.
Some Common Carrier Oils:
• Coconut Oil (Fractionated or Virgin)
• Almond
• Grapeseed Oil
• Jojoba Oil – I found this oil at Whole Foods in the same section as where the essential oils were. This is what I decided to use.
• Olive Oil – Grocery store cooking oil section.
• Safflower Oil
• Wheat germ
When diluting, you’ll want to create a mixture of various strengths. For my yoga classes, I trusted my nose and the below seemed to be an ideal strength and was more than enough for the 8 – 20 clients and myself.
~~~~ 10% Solution: 1 Teaspoon Carrier Oil: 10 Drops Essential Oil
~~~~ 10% Solution: 1 Tablespoon Carrier Oil: 30 Drops Essential Oil
I was going with a single essential oil and the carrier oil verses combining several essential oils since blending requires layering the essential oils in an exact order which is key to maintaining the desired therapeutic properties. (I’m not even close to understanding the art of blending stuff). Also, I placed my diluted oil in one of those tiny dark-colored blue glass jars (avoiding light and heat) that have an eye dropper. (I found my jars at Whole Foods). In the glass jar, I added the carrier oil first followed by the essential oil.

Spritzing: Dilute the essential oil in water. Blend 4-6 drops of oil per ½ cup of water. I diluted my oil in a small blue glass spray bottle also found at Whole Foods. Before you spray, shake the bottle. Never spray above people in Savasana where the mist settles right on their faces as most will find that annoying. Also, the mist, will last approximately 15 minutes which is perfect for a one hour yoga class.

Oils for Various Effects:
There are tons of essential oils out there and of course there is more to these oils than a pleasant aroma. Thinking past the smell, I asked myself why do I want to use essential oils in my yoga classes. What is the purpose? In general, essential oils can therapeutically benefit people psychologically and physically. You’ll hear them described as “nature’s medicine.”

Some questions I explored for yoga practice included:
1. Stimulating/Balancing the Heart Chakra (Emotional Balance/Cardiovascular):
– I encouraged one drop to be placed on the chest/heart area and rubbed in a clockwise direction. Since smelling essential oils stimulates the limbic system of the brain, I also had my clients put a drop on the inside of the elbow so the aroma would be available with Eagle Arms. I additionally, encouraged a drop either on the top of their mats or on a cotton pad placed at the top of their mats so the aroma could be visited during Chaturanga but not on Manduka mats. As the body heated up, the mild aromatherapy was pleasant.
– Oils Tried: Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Rose, Lavender
2. Stimulating Detoxing/Digestion:
– I encouraged one drop of Pepperment to be rubbed on the abdomen in a clockwise direction. (Some other suggested application areas that I’ve learned about include under the arms, the liver, intestines, and feet). If added to the feet, the oil needs to be applied in a “neat” state verses blending in a carrier oil so slipping is reduced, plus again certain mat brands can’t have essential oils on them. If not doing yoga, then the slipping concern is obsolete.
– Oils Tried: Pepperment, Juniper
3. Fighting Cold and Allergy Season:
– A drop of the essential oil can be applied to the base of the neck.
– Oils Tried: Melaleuca, Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus
4. Calming and Grounding:
Frankincense is great in a yoga class where you want to encourage people to calm, center their energy, and to ground which are great places to be in mentally. Many of us are surrounded by stress and often have anxiety which is not a good state to be in.
– For this type of intent, I encouraged Frankinsense. I used DoTERRA brand and it can be applied Neat to the skin. I put a few drops in my client’s palms, had them apply the oil on their feet, back of their necks, and to cup their hands together so they can inhale the oil before yoga practice.
– Oils Tried: Frankincense

Essential Oil Sources:
Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils can be found by contacting a distributer. Respected well-known companies include DoTERRA, Young Living, and Aura Cacia.
Young Living: http://www.abundanthealth4u.com
DoTERRA: http://www.doterra.com
Aura Cacia: http://www.auracacia.com
Natural/Organic Stores are another source of finding essential oils and accessories. Try Whole Foods.

**********
I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m definitely curious. Hopefully, if you’re a novice like me, you will have found this information useful. To really learn, I suggest you take some workshops, get some books, search online, and maybe just experiment. Personally, I have found workshops to be a wonderful experience that are both enjoyable and filled with learning opportunities.

(I wrote this because a few of my clients have asked me quite a few questions concerning essential oils).

Namaste,
Kristen

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About kwarren1970

I am an avid hiker and yogi.
This entry was posted in Community Yoga Practices, Creating Yoga Themes, Fun, listening to your body, mind-body connection, natural Remedies, strategies, Stress Relief, wellness, Yoga and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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