(Editor’s Note: Using aromatherapy essential oils to aid your yoga practice has been going on for centuries. Ancient yogis used sandalwood and other oils to enhance their brain’s ability to focus for long stretches of meditation. Using essential oils to aid pranayama is nothing new, but is newly discovered by so many of us modern yogis! Happy sniffing!)
Essential Oils to Aid in Your Pranayama Practice
There is a biological unity between the structure of our lungs and plants. Essential oils possess antibiotic, probiotic and eubiotic healing properties. Diffusing oils can actually be a preventative and protective measure we can take to keep our respiratory system strong and healthy. It’s always best to keep the nasal passages and lungs clear, rather than have to clear them once they are congested.
My favorite essential oil for clearing the nasal passages and lungs is Eucalyptus Radiata.
A pleasant and powerfully synergistic essential oil blend recipe could include Eucalyptus Radiata, Lemon, Peppermint and Lavender. The conifer oils, such as Juniper, and Silver Fir are also very beneficial and can be combined with Rosemary and Tea Tree and Ginger essential oils. Rosemary and peppermint oils will also aid you in clearing the mind. Use a combination of up to four of the above oils, totaling about 10-12 drops in a tablespoon of carrier oil. Keep the blend in an amber or cobalt blue glass bottle. Diffuse the blend or use direct palm inhalation as needed. I would not use these oils in a bath, as there is a potential for skin irritation.
When we practice pranayama, we reap so many rewards: serenity, balance, clarity, energy…Most of the breathing in pranayama is done through the nose. In this season of colds and congestion, using essential oils can be a great way to keep your nasal passages clear and strengthen your respiratory system. Then you can practice with ease! We practice pranayama to increase and direct prana. All healing happens through the power of prana! Prana is absorbed rapidly through the respiratory system; through the nostrils. The subtle aspect of prana enters the brain through olfactory nerves. This affects memory concentration and the senses, and influences the lungs and skin, and prepares prana for the lungs. Use of the Neti pot is helpful here as well. The lungs are the primary site for absorption.; where the prana is transformed into circulatory energy as it is absorbed into the bloodstream.
“Prana is the intelligence of nature within the body. The prana of the body normally functions under the influence of ego, and therefore ignorance. The goal of healing is to increase prana (ascending energy of evolution) and decrease Apana (descending energy of decay). Awakening to the inherent intelligence of prana leads to transcendence of egotism within the mind (spiritual liberation and ultimate level of healing).”-David Crow
With clear nasal passages and a clear mind, we can practice long, deep breathing for relaxation, breath of fire to energize..the whole repertoire of cooling, heating, calming, or stimulating breaths!