One world led to the other.
Like many Americans, my yoga practice started with the physical practice of asana. I enjoyed vinyasa classes for the work out. Over the years, I began appreciating the value of meditation and Ayurveda for the mind, body and soul. I found a great introductory book that combines the spiritual history of astanga with a comprehensive (and technical) practice manual for the primary asanas: “Astanga Yoga” by Petri Raisanen.
Ayurveda, Sanskrit for “life science” ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge), originated in India over 3000 years ago. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the belief that the balance of mind, body and spirit promote health, and it “prescribes” medicinal plants and foods as part of it’s wellness program.
Essential oils, a distilled concentration of select plants, have been used by Mesopotamians and Egyptians for skin/beauty and medicinal purposes dating back to 2000 B.C. If you are fascinated by the history of it like I am, I recommend “Ancient Secrets” oils movie, which I found enlightening to learn how the Egyptians used oils and why essential oils are often referenced in the Bible.
Given the deep history of both Ayurevda and Essential oils, and their shared purpose in holistic health practice, I began researching how essential oils can support and balance our doshas. Dosha is the Ayurvedic term that describes our inherited traits or “constitution”. When our constitutions are in balance, we experience wellness. When they are not, we experience the opposite. Yoga International offers a fun “Discover your Dosha” test.
When the Vata dosha (air & ether) is out of balance, symptoms may include anxiety, disturbed sleep and feeling scattered. Sweet, warming and grounding essential oils will soothe and balance Vata. Young Living has a blend called “Grounding” that combines middle and base note essential oils including Black Spruce, Ylang Ylang, Pine and Juniper. Calm the spirit with gentle inversions like forward fold, downward dog, child’s pose, pyramid and bridge.
If the Pitta dosha (fire & water) is out of balance, symptoms may include short tempers, skin rash and indigestion. Cooling essential oils will help soothe and balance Pitta. Top notes good for Pitta include Tea Tree, Lime, Lavender and Peppermint. In asana practice, meet fire with fire: side plank, half moon, chair and shoulder stands.
When the Kapha dosha (water & earth) is out of balance, symptoms may include despression/sadness, fatique/lethargy and congestion. Choose warm, spicy and invigorating essential oils to stimulate and balance Kapha. Uplifting oils good for Kapha include Cinnamon, Sweet Orange, Bergamont and Neroli. Amp up the energy with strong poses like handstand, wheel, boat and crow.
P.S. Check out “Ayurveda Made Easy” by Heidi E. Spear: 50 exercises for Finding Health, Mindfulness and Balance.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.