All of our senses create emotional responses. This week I dive into the sense of smell – olfaction, the most sensitive sense of all.
“A smell is a potent wizard that’s transport you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived”– Helen Keller
I am truly amazed by the power of smells, essential oils especially. It can be hard to quiet down the thinking mind when we begin a yoga practice or meditation, but scents have the ability to reach the emotional and the meditative brain. That’s why yogis have used Gandha ( Jasmine, Cedar wood, Sandalwood ) over 5000 years ago to enhance their practice.
If you have been in one of my yoga classes, you know that essential oils are also part of the practice with me.. I always have the diffusor on, and my oil rollers for you to rub on your wrist at the beginning of the class and before your drift into Shavasana. It instantly helps you to get into the zone.
The most sought after benefit and goal of a yoga practice is to find a sense of harmony and connection between the body and mind, that fosters a sense mental clarity and tranquility.
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is made up of the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for triggering the flight and fight response to stress. Most of us suffering from overstimulated sympathetic nervous system from stress and our fast paced living. But it is hard to quiet down… Yoga poses (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), mindfulness and the scents of calming essential oils can be effectively support the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system promoting relaxation and digestion.
Smells have a powerful connection to our emotions and feelings.
Scents bypass the rational brain, the Thalamus, and enter the olfactory bulb and from there, the emotional brain! This gives smell a magical ability to create feelings at the subconscious level. Amazing!
No wonder that essential oils have been used for thousands of years to improve health and well-being. Essential oils are organic compounds delivered from aromatic plant sources – flowers, leaves, roots, bark, seed, skin.. They are extremely complex substances, and every oil typically contains hundreds of chemicals. This chemical composition responsible for the oil’s smell and therapeutic properties.
Essential oils to enhance your yoga practice at home.
This is a simple yet energising 15 min morning yoga routine with essential oils to ease you into your day:
6 rounds of Alternate nostril breathing Nadi Shodana
3 rounds of Sun Salutation Surya Namaskar A
2 rounds of Sun Salutation Surya Namaskar B
You might try Peppermint (mentha piperita ) , bergamot (citrus bergamia) and lemon (citrus limonum) essential oils
A 15 min restorative evening practice
10 cat&cow pose
Big hip circles on all fours
Child pose Balasana for a few minutes
Reclining butterfly supta baddha konasa for a few minutes or as long as desired.
To enhance your evening practice, try Mandarin (citrus reticulata), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), or sandalwood (santalum album).
My ultimate favourite oil is Mandarin! Mandarin – Citrus reticulata is extracted by cold compression of the fresh peel of the fruit. It’s soothing and relaxing, yet has the ability to uplift your mood. It aids digestion and safe for babies and children and during pregnancy 🙂 Try it!