What's The Big Deal? Why combine Yoga and Aromatherapy?

Each week I offer an AromaTherapeutic Yoga Class. My class is defined as Hatha based, alignment focused yoga, that combines specific yoga postures with a set of curated essential oils. This combination is designed to create major energetic, emotional and physical shifts in the body. Usually, when I tell people that I teach yoga with essential oils, they picture a diffuser in the room fumigating the room with a pungent weird smelling aroma of essential oils, while people lay on bolsters and blankets in a restorative type asana class. This is not the case.

Based on the effect in the body desired, I carefully select a combination of essential oils with a specific order of application to help reduce muscle tension, soothe anxious nerves, reduce inflammation, and support the body’s healthy immune response.

By combining asana (postures) with essential oils, I am able to create a synergistic effect in the body. The combination of breath, movement, and unique essential chemistries, have had a profound impact on my clients and my student in my public yoga class.

I remember one student's profound experience in particular.  She arrived in my class just before the doors closed, signaling the start of class. As she sat on her mat, I observed her breathing was shallow, and confined to her upper chest. Her shoulders moved up and down rapidly. Signaling stress and possible anxious feelings. She let me know how afraid she was that she would miss class, how she had just driven across town through heavy traffic to get there, and how she really needed this class that particular evening. I smiled and invited her to take Sukhasana, a cross legged seated posture, seated on two folded blankets. I then encouraged her to close her eyes, and move her breath deeply into her belly and side ribs. This was very difficult for her to do. Her shoulder still rising and falling with each breath.

Originally, I had planned to begin class with peppermint oil.  Peppermint oil helps to anchor the body and breath connection, helps to expand and increase the lungs ability to fill with rich oxygenated air. However, I knew that peppermint was also energizing and could have a stimulating effect on her. I sensed that what she really needed was something that would create the effect of centering, grounding and calming. So I decided to use Copaiba instead. Copaiba is a centering, grounding, earthy, resinous essential oil. Full of beta-caryophyllene, a terpene that has a soothing effect on the nervous system.

I gave her a single drop in her hand, instructed her to rub her palms together and cup her hands in front of her nose to breathe in deeply. Within  seconds, I saw the tension dissolve. Her shoulders dropped and stilled. Her breath became deeper, fuller, the rate slower. I invited her to deepen her awareness of her breath and to lengthen her exhalation twice as long as her inhalation.  Her face changed. Where before lines of stress once rested, in its place was a smooth, calm, relaxed facial expression. The edges of her mouth curled slightly upward.

Later, the student shared with me that she had been going through a very stressful time in her life, and that she was experiencing a lot of anxiety. Her eyes teared up as she told me that the moment she took her first whiff of Copaiba she felt all her tension melt away. She felt the calmest she had been in a long while. Her experience is always in my mind when I design my private yoga sessions or my group AromaTherapeutic Yoga classes. The combination of yoga and aromatherapy can create powerful and immediate shifts in someone's’ emotional and physical state. I love being able to help my clients and my public class participants with the combination of yoga and aromatherapy.



Pili Bailey, MS Chemistry, teaches yoga in Pasadena, South Pasadena, San Marino, and Glendale. She offers private yoga and private group classes for corporations and universities.  Pili also offers aromatherapy education and wellness consultation.  Want to attend her next AromaTherapeutic Yoga class? Learn More.

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