In recent years the ancient art of yoga has become increasingly popular in the Western world. Hailing from India, yoga has been around for more than five millennia, making it one of the oldest forms of exercise.
However, current yoga trends sometimes have little connection to the origins of this physical, mental, and spiritual practice. No matter what your past and current experiences with yoga are, yoga and aromatherapy go hand in hand, and using essential oils during yoga or meditation sessions has the potential to promote relaxation as well as overall health and well-being.
What is Yoga?
While many believe that yoga is about contorting the body into bizarre poses, that is not the case. Although it is true that long-time practitioners can often move into physical postures that the average person cannot, that is a result of, not the intention of yoga.
The yoga philosophy includes several postures, including the well-known asana and lesser known ones such as niyamas and pratyahara. Modern Western practices involve hatha yoga, which concentrates on physical exercises to align the body.1
New Yoga Trends
One of the latest trends in yoga, goat yoga involves practicing asanas in the presence of goats. Dwarf and baby goats are ideal for this practice, and the barnyard animals are encouraged to stand on the backs of practitioners during certain asanas, such as child’s pose.2
Happy Hour Yoga
Popping up in studios around the country, happy hour yoga merges yoga and the alcohol typically-associated with happy hour. The classes begin with a blend of asanas for individuals of all levels. Rather than guzzling down alcohol afterward, individuals enjoy a special tasting that explores the connection between the two.
Another modern type of yoga, this practice turns up the heat, literally. The added heat and humidity encourage sweating and the release of toxins. As with other types of modern yoga, the classes go through a specific set of poses to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body.3
While most yoga poses are held for several seconds, the practice of yin yoga encourages the class to hold asanas for three to five minutes. This therapeutic practice promotes relaxation while loosening the tight connective tissues found in the joints. Another benefit of this practice is the opportunity to practice focus and patience while remaining in a static position.4
How Should I Practice Yoga?
Though modern forms of yoga are beneficial and entertaining to many, they lack many of the components found in the original practice. Decide for yourself which local resources are best for your yoga goals. If you don’t have time to make it to a studio, online classes are perfect for those with busy schedules.
How Does Aromatherapy Fit into Yoga?
Because the yoga philosophy recognizes the connection between everything on the planet, it makes sense that essential oils and aromatherapy can boost the experience. Just as hot yoga reproduces a hotter natural environment, essential oils can bring in a hint of the outdoors in, no matter where you are.
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The sense of smell is arguably the strongest in connection to the rest of your body. By inhaling essential oils, humans activate the neural network to release serotonin, dopamine, and range of other beneficial neurotransmitters neurotransmitters. Combined with yoga, aromatherapy can bring hormonal homeostasis and balance the nervous system.
What Essential Oils Should I Use?
Essential oils are powerful tools in a holistic health arsenal, but they must be used correctly in order to reap the rewards. For example, if an energetic blend is used right before bed, it will be difficult to fall asleep.
Many individuals like to begin their day with a sun salutation or another combination of asanas that helps wake up and energize the entire body. If you are among these people, diffuse peppermint or spearmint essential oils in the room while you go through the various poses. The citrus oils grapefruit, lemon and bergamot are also excellent choices for stimulating your body.
As for an evening yoga practice, clary sage, lavender or ylang-ylang are recommended. Calming oils combined with relaxing poses will help to release stress from the body and set up it up for peaceful sleep and relaxation.
If you’re interested in taking your yoga practice to the next level, you don’t necessarily have to take trendy classes. Instead, explore the roots of this ancient art and begin including essential oils into your daily practice. You will be amazed at how much this one change can enhance your yoga practice, as well as the rest of your day.