How to bring essential oils into your yoga practice

Any yoga enthusiast will tell you that the benefits of yoga go far beyond the calm that is brought about on the mat. Yoga, the ancient wisdom tradition and subtle science that originated in the Indian Subcontinent over 5000 years ago, is not just a deeply personal and spiritual practice, but can also help you develop mental and physical balance, and live in greater harmony with your surroundings.

Aromatherapy is another ancient healing practice, and the practice of using aromas and essential oils to help maintain wellbeing, have long been included in Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, which is the ancient Indian system of holistic healing and medicine. Bringing the benefits of aromatherapy into your yoga practice adds another dimension, with the potential to further influence your state of mind and nervous system, such as calming, uplifting or grounding you, depending on the scents you choose for your session.

Essential oils have been a part of my ‘destressing’ rituals from a young age. My mother would use lavender oil to help my sister and I fall asleep on evenings when we felt particularly restless. That’s something that has continued into my adult life – and into my yoga practice. Both yoga and aromatherapy can be excellent tools when it comes to increasing relaxation and reducing stress, so together they’re the perfect partnership.

Not sure where to start? Here’s how I bring essential oils into my yoga practice, and how you can, too.

Step 1: Match your essential oil to your yoga practice

There are countless different styles of yoga, and many can be enhanced with a complementary essential oil – whether you prefer taking to your mat at home or attending a group class.

For example, when I’m looking for a more invigorating practice, I opt for a fiery rocket or power yoga class. An empowering scent such as peppermint oil or sweet orange oil could be the perfect partner here.

If I’m seeking calm and restoration, I might turn to yin yoga or very gentle vinyasa flow routine at home, and use lavender oil, known for its relaxing properties. Knowing which type of yoga you want to do will help you choose the ideal aroma.

However, the scent that works best for you will also depend on your own affinity with certain smells – as scent is so intricately linked to our memories and emotions – which is what makes this wellness ritual so exciting.

Woman doing yoga on floor

Step 2: Think about your intention

Settling on a complementary scent should come down to both personal preference and aligning with your overall intention.

Though there are no hard-and-fast rules, it’s important to at least try to inhale the aroma you intend to use beforehand and consciously think about how it makes you feel. Does it evoke feelings of calm? Does it make you feel energised? These are things you should ask yourself before deciding.

I know this can feel overwhelming if you’re new to essential oils, with so many to choose from. So, as a general rule, I’ve outlined the go-to oils that tend to be best suited to certain types of practice and time of day, and you can give them a go, see if they feel right for you, and then you can experiment from there.

For relaxation: The soothing aroma of lavender oil is said to reduce stress and instil feelings of calm, making it ideal for evening yoga sessions before bed, or for any time you need to reduce stress and anxiety.

For focus: Help to enhance your yogic practice of ‘dharana’, meaning one-pointed focus, with focus-boosting oils like peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus and more.

For energy: When you’re intending to help beat fatigue, boost energy levels or lift your mood, a blend of oils like grapefruit, bergamot and orange are a great choice.

Top tip: Empower your next yoga session with our Pure Energy Essential Oil.

Step 3: Pick how you want to incorporate your oil

To get ready for your aromatherapy yoga session, decide on a technique for utilising your chosen scents. For me, this can be as simple as dabbing oil on to pulse points* (primarily the wrists and neck), or adding your chosen oil to a diffuser for an all-encompassing aroma. The former is great for gently wafting the scent as you move throughout your practice, while the latter is ideal for creating a fragrant ambience within a space.

If you’re practising at home with a loved one, or with a trusted teacher, you could also ask them to bring essential oils into the session as you lie in Shavasana (corpse pose). They could rub an essential oil over their wrists and palm and hold their hands over your head, rub gently onto your temples or softly press down on your shoulders.

One important thing to note is you should be cautious how and where you apply essential oils. Firstly, always check the label of your chosen oil to see if it can be applied neat directly to the skin. If not, always blend with a carrier oil before applying. Ensure that you wash your hands after using, to save you from sliding across your mat mid-pose.

Step 4: Get ready to experience aroma-yoga!

Now that you’ve prepared, you can harness the power of aromatherapy to enhance all your future yoga sessions. The effects of oils and aromatherapy can vary greatly from person to person, so take the time to find ones that work for you and help you achieve your goals. Namaste!

Shop Nature’s Truth’s range of essential oils here.

*Disclaimer: Always read the instructions on the bottle. Essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil before applying directly to skin.

Emily Harding

Emily Harding

Yoga Teacher

Emily Harding, or Instagram's Yeh Yoga, has a passion for teaching a yoga practice that's inclusive and welcoming to all, especially beginners. She's on a mission to keep toxic diet culture out of wellness (and all our lives!) and wants to help dispel yoga and movement myths. With her knowledge as a yoga teacher, Emily Harding will be here to share her experience and advise on how yoga, mindfulness and breathwork, can transform our physical health and mental wellbeing.