Introduction to Essential Oils

 

You have probably heard people mention Essential Oils, especially in reference to yoga. I remember the first yoga class I ever attended. While we were in Savasana (Corps Pose), the teacher came over and used Lavender to help me relax by applying it topically. I had no idea what was happening since my eyes were closed, but I loved the smell, and instantly felt the therapeutic, aromatic benefits! I soon discovered many essential oils were suggested for emotional and mental health, and I wanted to learn more!

Essential oils are highly concentrated oils found in plants, trees, shrubs, bushes, etc. Not only great for mental health, essential oils are often used for respiratory health, immune support, skin care, sleep, and muscle tension/pain relief.

Applied topically or diffused into the air (aromatically), there are several ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. Some oils are even ingested! Often essential oils are found in skin care products from lotion to lip balm, and other body care products. I personally like to apply them topically or use them in a diffuser (especially when I’m teaching a yoga class!)

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The most commonly used essential oils for mental well being include:

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Rose
  • Vanilla
  • Nutmeg
  • Ylang Ylang

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I will be doing a series on essential oils and mental health. I will talk about the different oils, how they work, what they are used for, safety, and of course, their benefits. I hope you will follow along and learn to incorporate essential oils into your self care!

Namaste,

Tina

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The Why & How of Ujjayi Breath in Yoga

Yoga is the unity of mind and body and to achieve this unity, we often focus on our breath as we move through postures. Previously, I talked about How Pranayama Breathing Relieves Anxiety, but now let’s look at a type of Pranayama known as Ujjayi breath. In Sanskrit, Ujjayi breath means “victorious breath.”

Ujjayi breath is relatively easy to practice by constricting the back of the throat (just as you would while whispering) and forcing the breath to pass through the nostrils. The breath can be heard, and some compare it to the sound of the ocean. You may hear some practitioners even refer to this type of breathing as “ocean breath.”

Happy breathing

There are a number of benefits to this type of breathing, including:

  • This type of breathing helps balance our chakras, or “energy centers” in the body
  • Ujjayi breath is calming
  • It helps in regulating blood pressure
  • It helps the lungs work freely to pass air to all parts of the body (even off the mat)
  • Aids in concentration and focus (you can hold a pose longer while using Ujjayi breath!)
  • It can release tension in tight areas of the body
  • Strengthens the nervous and digestive system
  • Helps relieve headaches and sinus pressure
  • It regulates the heat throughout the body

While any type of healthy breathing is beneficial to the body, we can practice different types of breathing during our yoga practice to benefit not just the body, but also the mind!

Namaste,

Tina

Meditation and breathing

How Pranayama (Yoga) Breathing Relieves Anxiety

We can all agree, breathing is important. It’s the first thing we do when we are born. We take our first breath, and we continue to breathe the rest of our lives. Without breath, we have no life, but how can the WAY we breathe help our daily lives and the anxiety we face?

Focused breathing, known in the world of yoga as “Pranayama,” can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with anxiety. Pranayama is the Sanskrit word for “breath or life force.” Alternatively, it also means “breath control.”

Understanding how Prananyama works, will allow you to use focused breathing for anxiety relief.

Breathing 4

“The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

When something happens causing people to panic, concerned people around them will remind them to “just breathe,” but why do they do this? It’s because the breath can be calming and restorative.

It works a number of ways. In another post we will talk about methods for using the breathe to calm ourselves, but for now let us explore the “how” of breathing and finding relief for anxiety.

So let’s start with what anxiety feels like. Everyone is different, but you might feel some or all of these things during an anxious episode:

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings like choking (or a lump in the throat)
  • Chest Pain
  • Nausea
  • Chest Tightness
  • Fear of close-by danger
  • Fear of dying
  • Heart Palpitations
  • The need to escape
  • Feeling disoriented

Most psychiatrists/doctors need at least four of these elements to diagnose a panic attack.

It is with the breath, we are able to help control the feelings we are having during an anxiety attack. With slowed, rhythmic, concentrated breathing, your can reduce anxiety because proper breathing:

  • Slows your heart rate causing muscles to relax
  • Decreases blood pressure
  • Slows breathing
  • Decreases metabolism

Being aware of HOW you are breathing will help during an anxiety attack. Often in the panic of an attack, many people will breathe faster and shallow. This leads to the feeling of having a shortness of breath, fostering the symptoms further. Slowing the breath, and allowing the body to use the breath to calm the body naturally, is the best way to overcome anxiety naturally, wherever you are when you feel anxious.

I will post breathing techniques soon!
Namaste, Tina