How to Use Aromatherapy in Yoga-Pilates Classes

Sit back and relax in a beauty salon Northern Beaches that has it all, from your traditional treatments facials, waxing, massages, manicures, pedicures and eyebrow tints. Several years ago, during a yoga class, I lay on my mat in corpse pose with a lavender scented towel over my eyes. I could hear the instructor walking around the class giving each towel a gentle spray and placing it carefully over each student’s eyes. Once she reached me to cover my eyes, I began to clear my thoughts and get comfortable. AHHH! I immediately felt alone as if this yoga practice were just for me. At that moment, I allowed myself to surrender to the mat and just breathe. As my breaths became slower and my body felt as if it were floating, I let the scent take me away to a comfortable and quiet place. My body felt as though it was submerged in water, weightless, my mind at ease as my thoughts were limited. I was just being. As a pilates/yoga instructor, from that moment on, I have encouraged each of the participants in my classes and private sessions to experience that for themselves. There is nothing better than to take a mental vacation and become completely physically rested. This mental “vacation” mode should be offered at the end of the yoga class, during the final relaxation. This is my favorite segment of the class, as it should be for each participant. It’s a time to let our minds absorb what our bodies have accomplished, to ease the stress and tension in our muscles and allow oxygen to flow through our blood and bodies with ease.

In each of my yoga classes, I now take notice of my participants for that day and then choose the modality of aromatherapy products to use. Aromatherapy is the study of a scent with the use of essential oils and has actually been known for centuries. Essential oils are tiny droplets from different parts of a plant, the stem, root, leaf, flower, fruit or bark. They are the “essence” of the plant. When you brush up against a rosemary plants or walk into a rose garden, you can smell the fragrance; the essential oils are released into the air. Essential oils are not mystical or magic things, they are as real as herbs in the garden and they have been proven by science to have therapeutic benefits to our bodies and our minds. Aromatherapy can be used for healing because the essential oils have natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Have you ever gotten a whiff of a familiar aroma and it took you back to a beloved childhood memory, a fun vacation, or your favorite relaxing place? Have you noticed if the familiar scent creates a relaxing, calming, stimulating or energizing affect on you? When we inhale a scent, it is carried through our nerve pathways to the brain, specifically, the limbic system of the brain, which affects our moods and emotions. Depending on which fragrance (oil) is used, it can be relaxing, sedating, memory enhancing, balancing, rejuvenating and even used as a natural pain reliever. For example, lavender is calming, peppermint is stimulating, rosemary promotes inspiration and blood flow, citrus oils brighten the skin and sharpen the senses and lemon is even cleansing.

The basic necessities for my yoga/ pilates class, of which I offer that little something extra in relaxation are: an eye cloth or eye pillow, aromatherapy linen spray, body oil and a yoga mat sanitizer. The eye cloth used is 100% bamboo fibers, which is naturally anti-bacterial and feels soft and cozy to the face. I’ll spray a gentle mist of aromatherapy Linen Spray onto the eye cloth and place it over the eyes. I always ask that if someone does not want the aromatherapy, or has any allergies, to place one hand on their belly as a sign of “No thanks”. For those participants not wanting aromatherapy, I recommend the flaxseed eye pillow; it requires no scent for its relaxing qualities. The natural weight of the flaxseed provides just enough weight on the temples, along with some pressure on the eyes to aid in relaxation. There is definitely a difference in how relaxed we allow ourselves to become once the eyes are covered and the light is filtered out. The linen spray may also be spritzed around the room for an air freshener before class. If your mind/body studio has community mats for your classes, Yoga mat sanitizer is a great way to keep the mats sanitized and rid the foot smell. The Massage & body oil is taken from a soy lotion candle. During yoga practice the candle sets the mood and ambiance while the participants enjoy a theraputic fragrance and at the end of the practice it aids in a massage oil for a relaxation . It can be gently rubbed in circular motion on the temples or back of the necks. Whether the aromatherapy is a spray or an oil, whether it is inhaled or applied directly onto the skin, the therapeutic benefits reap rewards to our body and our minds.

So go ahead…take the time for your body and mind. Visit http://www.bodymindtime.com to learn more.

Dusty Mardis is a yoga & pilates instructor and personal trainer with 10 years experience. Her B.S. in Exercise Science and love for the mind/body programs initiated the beginning of her business , Body & Mind Time. The aromatherapy products are specific toward yoga/ pilates studios and are a wonderful addition to the classes and for the use of the participants. For more information on the aromatherapy products vist http://wwwbodymindtime.com

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