Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: Complement Your Yoga Practice with Traditional Indian Medicine

Ayurveda and aromatherapy

Yogis often encounter Ayurveda and aromatherapy at some point. If you haven’t explored these valuable healing modalities yet, here’s a quick overview. Ayurveda, or traditional Indian medicine, is the sister science of yoga. The science of Ayurveda is based on three body types called doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha.

Both Ayurveda and yoga focus on strengthening prana—the life force. In yoga, prana enhances being. In Ayurveda, prana heals the body. So, Ayurveda is a holistic approach that incorporates diet, herbs and natural remedies.

An Ayurvedic approach to healing might be to use aromatherapy instead of prescription drugs in certain cases.

Ayurveda and Aromatherapy

In Ayurveda, aromatic plants treat emotional and mental disturbances. The aromas of essential oils are thought to have healing powers, especially for emotional issues. The idea behind aromatherapy is that the area of the brain that controls emotions is the same area that controls our sense of smell.

The Doshas

There are three body types, or doshas, in Ayurveda. Very briefly, the three doshas are:

  • Vata – Vata’s characteristics are dry, light, airy, cold, quick, restless, and changeable.
  • Pitta – People with pitta body types are strong, sharp, smart, hot, driven and fiery.
  • Kapha – Kapha types are solid, heavy and slow to change.

While we tend to have one dominate dosha, we are all a mix of all three types. When the doshas are out of balance, the theory goes, illnesses and other problems can occur.

Aromas can help bring the body back into balance. When combining Ayurveda and aromatherapy, practitioners match aromas from essential oils with a person’s body type. Some essential oils for treating each dosha are:

  • Vata – patchouli, clove, rose, geranium, vanilla and grounding blends
  • Pitta – lavender, sandalwood, mint, and calming blends
  • Kapha – citrus, pine, eucalyptus, juniper and uplifting blends

How to Use Essential Oils

There are several ways to use essential oils in Ayurveda, including steam inhalation, as massage oils, and in a spray mist. These methods are becoming increasingly popular as aromatherapy and essential oils gain more interest in the West.

Steam inhalation is especially effective and easy to accomplish. Simply add a few drops of essential oil to water, and then boil the water. There are also commercial diffusers that accomplish the same thing a bit more conveniently. Diffusers come in various shapes and sizes. Some offer colorful lights in addition to functioning as a tool for diffusing aromas.

Essential oils can also serve as massage oils. A daily self-massage called abhayanga is a common Ayurvedic technique that uses oils scented with aromatic herbs.

Finally, you can use a simple spray mist that contains essential oils targeted to balancing the doshas. Mix essential oils and water in a spray bottle and use it whenever you need an aromatic spritz.

If you’re looking for a natural path to well-being, give Ayurveda and aromatherapy a try. Learning about your body type as well as the amazing connection between the brain and our sense of smell is a great way to complement your yoga practice.

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Maria Kuzmiak

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