For more than 5,000 years, humans have practiced the sacred art of yoga and meditation. Though there have been hundreds of different styles and approaches to yoga and meditation, the true foundation of the practices remains unchanged even to this day: yoga masters and meditation gurus alike design their practices to balance, center, and rejuvenate the body in the hope of opening the mind and spirit to new insights of peace, serenity, and acceptance.
The use of aromatic enhancements such as essential oils in both yoga and meditation can be traced back almost as far as the practices themselves. Because of the powerful effect they have on our physiology and emotions, these oils are extremely beneficial when balancing, centering, and expanding the mind.
What are Essential Oils?
The term “essential oil” is derived from the original “quintessential oil,” which stems from the Aristotelian idea that all matter is composed of the four staple elements: fire, air, earth, and water. Along with this idea comes a fifth element, or quintessence, that’s considered to be a spirit or life force. By distilling and evaporating the plant into an oil, it was thought that the plant’s living spirit could be removed. However, today we understand that essential oils–rather than being spirits–are physical in nature and made of complex mixtures of chemicals.
The essential oils we use today are extracted via distillation, expression, or extraction from the various components of plants, such as leaves, flowers, roots, buds, twigs, rhizomes, heartwood, bark, resin, seeds, and fruits. What makes essential oils different from other oils, though, is the immense concentration contained in each drop.
How Essential Oils Help In Yoga and Meditation Practices
For centuries, yoga and aromatherapy have been used together as holistic practices that offer physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. By incorporating aromatherapy and essential oils, your body’s senses are awakened to enhance the focus and effects of your practice.
Another way essential oils assist in yoga and meditation practices is by helping to balance our chakra. The seven main energy centers, or chakras, throughout the body each can correlate to a specific ailment or physical dysfunction. Each chakra is also home to various mental and emotional strengths. So, if we experience a physical issue, our emotional behavior is weakened. By using essential oils during yoga and meditation, we release stale energy to undo that physical or emotional imbalance.
What Are The Best Essential Oils to Use?
Below are eight of the best essential oils to help balance your chakra and improve your yoga or meditation practice. Simply mix several drops of these oils with coconut or olive oil and apply topically to the corresponding chakra area–or part of the body.
- Cinnamon helps heat up your solar plexus chakra, or your upper abdomen, to give your entire body a warm, calm sensation. Peppermint, on the other hand, can be used to cool an overheated system.
- Use a rose essential oil in the center of your chest, just above the heart, to enhance romance and love. This is also a powerful oil when alleviating feelings of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
- Your throat chakra is known as the center for self-expression. Use a eucalyptus oil to help clear sinuses, soothe a sore throat, and allow for the passage of free self-expression.
- Place a dab of lavender oil on your forehead in between your eyes. This “third-eye chakra” will benefit from the oil’s incredible calming effects, allowing you to reach a higher state of consciousness.
- Frankincense is known as one of the most spiritually-charged oils you can use in your practice. By applying it to the very top of your head, the crown chakra, you’ll benefit from added sensations of peace and clarity.
- Patchouli, a bushy herb of the mint family, is known for its powerful ability to balance and heal. When applied to the base of your tailbone, or root chakra, you’ll experience heightened feelings of grounding and stability.
- Apply Ylang Ylang and sandalwood two inches below your navel, or sacral chakra, to aid in sexual and reproductive energies.
- Myrrh essential oil is known to enhance feelings of balance and relaxation and is a great companion for meditation.