An ancient spiritual practice that is as good for the body as it is for the mind, yoga originated in India thousands of years ago. The term “yoga” derives from Sanskrit and means “to unite”, which perfectly encapsulates the union of the mind and the body experienced during practice.
Today, yoga is practiced by people of all ages and ethnicities, all around the world. In 2014, the United Nations publically recognized yoga’s universal appeal by proclaiming 21 June International Day Of Yoga, which serves as a day to raise awareness of the practice and its many benefits.
Essentially, yoga combines movement, holding physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation techniques to promote physical wellbeing (strength, flexibility, endurance) and mental wellbeing (calmness, stress relief, anxiety relief, mental clarity and more).
Modern yoga places equal importance on the mental and fitness aspects of the practice, whereas ancient yoga focused less on the physical aspects, and more on achieving mental clarity and inner peace. Whichever form of yoga you practice, and whatever you want to achieve through it, it’s important to take a holistic approach: Find a quiet, peaceful space, switch off your devices, wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely and make sure you have enough time – this is not a practice to be rushed.
While yoga can be practised all year round, it’s a particularly great form of exercise during winter when you might not be able to enjoy your regular outdoor activities, and you may be more at risk of contracting colds and flus (we’re all about immunity-boosting activities!).
Essential oils and yoga are a match made in heaven. Yoga is all about opening the heart, connecting with the body, and finding healing and freedom through movement. And what better way to assist the mind, body, and heart with transformation than with essential oils?
Essential oils are used to promote health and wellbeing, and when used correctly, they have the ability to improve the health of the body, mind and spirit. Like yoga, they can enhance both physical and emotional health.
SOiL Organic Aromatherapy gives advice on the best essential oils to utilise for yoga and meditation.
Black Pepper with its warm spiciness assists with circulation and digestion as well as muscular aches. This is a useful oil for athletes before training to help prevent muscular pain and stiffness afterwards.
Try: SOiL Black Pepper Essential Oil 10ml (R100.00).
Considered a tonic for the central nervous system, rosemary essential oil is used to reduce pain and headaches, increase circulation and reduce joint inflammation. Rosemary is said to improve memory, stimulate the brain and increase mental alertness.
Try: SOiL Rosemary Essential Oil 10ml (R60.00).
Lavender has antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and has shown to help relax muscles and reduce pain. It blends well with other oils and helps to assist in relieving headaches, insomnia and restlessness. Lavender essential oil is calming and can help reduce anxiety and depression by promoting relaxation and good sleep. It helps set a relaxing, calming mood in the studio.
Try: SOiL Lavender Essential Oil 10ml (R100.00).
Sandalwood has a relaxing effect on the nerves, helps lower stress and promote calmness. Sandalwood is extremely gentle and soothing, however it’s also very centering. Its deeper, woody scent also creates more of a spiritual atmosphere in your yoga studio. It is known to have a calming effect on the mind and to help ease feelings of anxiety.
Try: SOiL Sandalwood Essential Oil 2.5ml (R240.00).
Peppermint essential oil is known for its refreshing and stimulating properties. It energizes the body, reduces muscle spasms, promotes circulation and has anti-viral properties. Peppermint is awakening and energizing, helping to open the mind up for greater awareness. It can also aid in diminishing mental fatigue.
Try: SOiL Peppermint Essential Oil 10ml (R60.00).
Arnica Athletic Body Oil
Derived from the arnica flower, arnica oil is widely used for its ability to help reduce inflammatory pain. It can help ease pain and swelling associated with bruising, sprains and muscle aches as it helps to boost blood circulation and speed up the healing process.
Try: SOiL Arnica Athletic Blended Oil 100ml (R120.00). A formulated blend of carrier and essential oils, this soothing oil is just what you need for sore and tired muscles.
Antiviral and antimicrobial, frankincense is also a deeply spiritual oil, helping to both ground and awaken, open and heal. Its centering aroma slows the nervous system and promotes a feeling of calm and introspection, and a few drops in an essential oil burner can aid concentration and meditation.
Try: SOiL Frankincense Essential Oil 5ml (R100.00)
You can create your very own meditation blend by combining the following oils in your diffuser: 4 drops of Lavender, 2 drops of Rosemary, 2 drops of Sandalwood, 2 drops of Frankincense and 2 drops of Peppermint. SOiL's Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser (R600.00) uses water and ultrasonic vibrations to disperse the molecules of the essential oil into the air via a fine mist. Low on energy and quiet, it’s the perfect diffuser to use at home, in the office or in the yoga studio.
Often forgotten but extremely important, is the act of sanitizing your yoga mat after every use. Gentle on the skin and surfaces, yet highly effective, are SOiL’s range of Natural Hand Sanitiser (R30.00). These 70% alcohol-based solutions are enhanced with tea tree essential oil for its antiviral and antibacterial properties, is available in three variants: Peppermint and Tea Tree (stimulating and refreshing), Lavender and Tea Tree (soothing and calming) and Lemon and Tea Tree (uplifting and awakening).
This International Day of Yoga, we urge you to give this ancient practice a try, not only for its physical health benefits, but also for its mental health benefits. Here’s to a healthier – and more mindful – winter!
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