By Steve Spriensma, Goodness Me!
Yoga and aromatherapy are like red wine and Netflix – they just go better together (they’re also great alternatives to red wine and Netflix!). Essential oils and their soothing aromas can expand and enrich the yoga experience, but these aren’t simply perfumes. They are extremely concentrated oils that always need to be handled with care and used correctly!
Essential Oil Safety
Many yoga studios use essential oils with diffusers to create a serene environment, but there’s a growing amount of yoga practitioners using them on several pulse points on the body – on the neck, wrists, and behind the ears. Using an essential oil such as lavender oil at these points can relax the body and clear the mind, letting the user get the most out of their yoga session.
Before using essential oils on the skin, it’s important to make sure you know how to use them safely:
- Make sure you aren’t allergic to the ingredients! You’re probably aware of what your body can and can’t take, but all the same, be certain before using, especially if you aren’t familiar with the source.
- Don’t put essential oils directly on the skin, and always use a carrier oil. Essential oils can do damage to your skin if not used properly, even if you don’t have an allergy to the oil.
Carrier oils are fatty vegetable oils used to dilute the essential oil so it can be applied to the skin (essentially carrying the oil to the skin). While they dilute the essential oil, carrier oils don’t rob them of their positive properties; they can even enhance the effect of the essential oils, by ensuring they aren’t overused.
- Look into the different types of carrier oils. Since carrier oils come from seeds and kernels, they don’t have strong concentrated aromas, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have aromas at all. Take this into account before choosing one, because you don’t want to be stuck with a subtle fragrance you can’t stand.
Choose one that won’t react with your allergies. How you dilute depends on how you want to use it; for non-medicinal topical application, you should use a 2% solution, adding 10 to 12 drops per 30 ml (one ounce) of carrier oil. Here are some very popular options:
- Apricot oil: A great choice for massage oils and homemade moisturizers, it’s got a moderately oily texture and absorbs quickly, with a faint aroma. Good for the skin, too!
- Avocado oil: Very moisturizing, but it could overpower the aroma of the essential oils.
- Grapeseed oil: With a light and nutty aroma, grapeseed oil is quite popular.
- Sweet Almond oil: This carrier oil is very little aroma and is not too expensive. It’s a great all-purpose oil, one of the best for using on the skin.
- Water is also safe. Dilute your favourite essential oil in hot water for a scented compress after hot yoga, or in filtered water to spray down your sweaty yoga mat.
- Proper application is important. Use a roller bottle (also known as a roll-on bottle or roll bottle) to apply your diluted oils to the skin.
- Be safe out in the sun! You may have seen the Buzzfeed horror story about one woman’s painful experience with essential oils and UV rays. The user put undiluted citrus oil right on the skin before hopping into a tanning bed, unaware of how it reacts to ultraviolet radiation. It’s an extreme case, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
If you want to learn more about using essential oils for all kinds of things, check out the Goodness Me! blog for more information!
(Originally published May 29, 2017)