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Scents and Sensibility

Essential oils can shift your mood and inspire your practice.

By Hillari Dowdle

oils HP

It's time to do your yoga practice, but you just can't get your head in the game? Try shifting your energy with aromatherapy, the art of using the scented oils extracted from plants to lift mood and support healing. Experts say aromatherapy works because your sense of smell connects directly to the limbic system of your brain, which controls emotion.

"When you inhale a beautiful aroma, you get direct access to this primal, governing part of yourself—and you can create a shift on the mental level almost instantaneously," says Nicole Becker, an Anusara Yoga teacher and holistic aromatherapist.

For centuries, spiritual traditions, including yoga, have used scented oils and incense, such as frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, and Neroli, to set an elevated tone for devotional practice or meditation. Try adding a drop or two to a room diffuser, to an ounce of massage oil, or to a tissue tucked beneath the corner of your yoga mat. Then inhale deeply and begin your practice, fully engaged in body, mind, and spirit.

Set a Mood

Experiment with the mood-lifting effects of these essential oils suggested by Mindy Green, co-author of Aroma-therapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art. Try them alone or in any combination that appeals to you.

Scents That Focus and Center:
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Petitgrain
  • Rosemary
Scents That Energize:
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
Scents That Soothe and Relax:
  • Cedar
  • Orange
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood

December 2010

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