Aroma Yoga

Aroma Yoga

Aroma Yoga is an inspiring way to start the day by using fragrances that complement yoga moves. Simply put it means burning an essential oil or a blend of essential oils while practising yoga.

Aromatherapy is a natural partner to the five principles of yoga: exercise, deep rhythmic breathing, release from tension, relaxation and meditation. Essential oils can be used to energise the body, encourage deep breathing, awaken the senses, and promote calm.

I practise yoga every morning at home so it is easy to choose an aroma for my daily Asanas (yoga poses). To feel revitalised and renewed after a session, I choose essential oils that are energising and uplifting. Basil or rosemary oils stimulate the mind and clarify the senses, and burning one of these two fragrances brings a greater sense of awareness, aiding focus and balance.

Frankincense is another excellent oil to combine with yoga particularly for classic meditation poses like the Lotus. The orange oils (mandarin, petitgrain, sweet orange) are good choices because they are relaxing and uplifting. Lavender combines well with yoga because it balances the mind and emotions.

My favourite essential oil for yoga is not an obvious one – jasmine. The fragrance of jasmine is very inspiring while practising Salute to the Sun as the world awakes.

I would love to hear more ideas of how to use aromatherapy with yoga.

My essential oils are from Neals Yard, including the aroma stone in the image above.


Reflections on a year in beekeeping

This year has been all about the queen. Queen Rose split from her court in early spring and was succeeded by her daughter, Queen Rosemary. Taking objection to her coronation, Rosemary briefly abdicated in a royal huff before returning to her throne. Rose, in her newly founded kingdom, made fewer public appearances before eventually going MIA. We then discovered five queens-in-waiting in July. Our royal saga concluded with the coronation of Queen Lavender.

Lavender made her debut at the end of a busy afternoon’s beekeeping: bees had been cleared, our honey crop removed and Apiguard given to treat varroa. The beekeeping year starts and ends in August. The honey crop summons the end of our annual activities as preparations for overwintering begin the new year. Bees are a bit pagan.

Emily brought dried lavender for the smoker to calm our late summer bees, while we nicked their honey and gave them medicine. So it seemed appropriate when Sarah spotted our new queen running across a frame in our baby hive that she was christened Lavender.

Remembering the drama of our runaway queen earlier this year, Lavender was swiftly caged without hesitation and marked white – on her head, wings and thorax! Future inspections will tell if she survived my clumsy coronation attempt intact.

I think I may have squashed two workers while securing the queen in her cage. Ugh, more guilt! Catching and marking a queen is tricky business. Try to catch one bee from thousands on a frame inside a cage, then mark her as the workers try to set her free. That’s when you need a hive partner! It is a good idea to practise caging and marking with drones early in the year. They are bigger and fairly amiable about it, and it doesn’t matter quite as much if you damage a drone.

So our beekeeping year ends with Queen Rosemary reigning over our fully grown hive, which is bursting at the seams with bees, and with Queen Lavender inheriting our baby hive, which is slowly filling the brood box. Emily and I wondered how well our July queen mated late in the season and with August rains. So we were happy to find new brood and larvae during our last inspection.

I thought that the bees in our baby hive looked lighter and more golden, unlike Lavender who inherited her mother’s dark looks. Emily suggested that Lavender may have mated with Albert’s drones. We might have Kiwi bees!

As an aromatherapist, I named my first queen after an essential oil and this tradition has continued with the hives I share with Emily. So far the queens have taken after their namesakes of Jasmine, a beautiful relaxing oil, Rose, a warm mothering fragrance, and Rosemary, an energetic invigorating aroma. Lavender is renowned for its gentleness and effectiveness, I hope our new queen has these qualities.

Our adventures in beekeeping have kept us busy this year – building hives and shook swarms, frame-making workshops and beards of bees, runaway queens, a new nuc, rainbows of pollen and honey, a quintet of queen cells, weird bees, a honey crop, and a honey festival! I haven’t even taken my basic beekeeping assessment yet!

With a new year around the corner, I wonder what our bees will do next!

Rosemary – an established personality

Rosemary is young at heart. She is the friend that you can call at a moment’s notice to go out. Her vibrancy and enthusiasm for life cannot be quenched. She is fiercely determined and thrives on a challenge. Rosemary excels at multi-tasking and loves to succeed.

Rosemary is an energetic essential oil. It has a recognisable, distinctive herbaceous scent that stimulates the brain and focuses concentration. Its powerful action helps to banish fatigue, and its aroma uplifts and strengthens the mind.

Rosemary for remembrance

In past times, the herb was used to stimulate the mind and to aid memory. Sprigs of rosemary became symbolic of remembrance. The scent of the essential oil has the same effect. Burn rosemary as a room fragrance if you are revising for exams or engaging in any form of study. Its scent will sharpen your focus and help you to better remember what you have learned. Rosemary will prevent the mind from wandering and keep sleepiness at bay during study.

Vaporise 3–4 drops in an oil burner for a couple of hours as you work at your desk.

An invigorating tea

Fresh rosemary tea is an invigorating beverage and can be drunk to replace your usual shot of coffee. Brew a couple of stems of fresh rosemary in a cup of boiling water and sip once cooled. It has a refreshing flavour and will invigorate your body and mind. Experiment by adding a couple of fresh-torn mint leaves.

A tonic for hair

Rosemary has long been used as a tonic for dark hair to enhance the colour and shine, whereas chamomile is traditionally used for fair hair. However, rosemary is beneficial for all hair types as it stimulates circulation of the scalp and encourages new growth. Rosemary essential oil is often added to hair care products to strengthen hair and to make it appear healthy and glossy.

To make your own rosemary shampoo and conditioner, blend:

  • 200ml unscented shampoo or conditioner

  • 40 drops rosemary oil
  • 40 drops lavender oil
  • 40 drops thyme linalool oil

A deep-oil conditioning treatment once a week will also help to give you fuller, shinier hair. Blend:

  • 15ml jojoba oil

  • 3 drops rosemary oil
  • 3 drops lavender oil
  • 3 drops thyme linalool oil

Massage the above blend into your scalp and gently comb through to the ends. Wrap your hair in a warm towel and leave for 30 minutes or overnight. Wash out with your rosemary shampoo, and use a tiny amount of conditioner.

These blends are helpful for those whose hair is fine or thinning, and for those whose hair looks dry, brittle and fragile. In most cases, it will eventually help to encourage the growth of new hair and promote healthy looking hair. However, if you think you are suffering from a form of hair loss, medical advice should be sought to diagnose the cause and condition.

A sports aid

Rosemary has a stimulating effect on the circulation and increases the flow of blood to skin tissues and muscle. It can be used as a pre-sports blend to massage on arms and legs and help to warm-up the tissues. However it should not be used as a substitute for proper warm-up exercises. Rosemary is also helpful post-workout to treat tired, stiff and aching muscles, because it has an analgesic effect.

To make a rosemary massage oil blend:

  • 30ml olive oil

  • 9 drops rosemary 
  • 9 drops lavender oil (always a good complement to rosemary)

This blend makes enough for one complete body massage or a few localised massages to arms and legs. The analgesic and stimulating effects of rosemary make it useful for those who suffer from backaches and also for conditions such as rheumatism and arthritis.

This post is dedicated to my friend Jenni – who has a well-established personality and whose strength and determination to see things through is rarely equalled.

Profile of rosemary:

Latin name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Plant family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Plant type: herb
Perfume note: middle
Botany and origins: a perennial evergreen herb with a woody stem and branches, needle-like leaves and white, purple, pink or blue flowers. It is native to the Mediterranean, but cultivated worldwide
Extraction: steam distillation of the fresh flowering tops or whole plant
Chemical properties/active components: high in oxides (30%), including 1,8 cineole; monoterpenes (30%), including pinene, camphene, limonene and cymene; and ketones (25%), including camphor. Oxides are good for respiratory complaints and monoterpenes are antiviral
Blends with: basil, cedarwood, cinnamon, citronella, frankincense, lavender, lavendin, peppermint, petitgrain, pine, thyme, and spice oils
Key actions: analgesic, astringent, antirheumatic, anti-spasmodic, cephalic, digestive, hypertensive, nervine, rubefacient, stimulates circulation, tonic
Common conditions: low blood pressure, circulatory problems of extremities, rheumatism, arthritis, tired and stiff or overworked muscles, fluid retention, gout; stimulates central nervous system and brain, aids concentration, relieves nervous debility, headaches, mental fatigue, nervous exhaustion and stress; catarrhal conditions, respiratory ailments, colds, flu and infections; stimulates hair growth, prevents dandruff, greasy hair, acne, insect repellent
Contraindications: non-toxic, non-irritating, non-sensitising; do not use if you have sensitive skin, high blood pressure or epilepsy, and avoid during pregnancy
Further reading: This profile is based on my own experience and knowledge of using this essential oil. Other aromatherapy texts will list a wider range of properties and uses. The most comprehensive essential oil profiles that I have read are given by Salvatore Battaglia’s The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, published by Perfect Potion, 2003, Australia. ISBN:  0-6464-2896-9

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