As a yoga teacher, I love aromatherapy. My favorite way to use essential oils is to place a few drops on the top of my feet before class. That way, the warmth of my feet acts like a diffuser for the chosen scent! As I walk around the room teaching and assisting students, the aroma gradually infuses through the room in a subtle and non-offensive way.

I find this works much better than letting the oil permeate the room with a candle or essential oil diffuser. This also helps avoid any possible issues of applying oils to students directly, who may have sensitive skin and/or allergies.

But you don't have to be a yoga teacher to use and appreciate aromatherapy.

Here's a breakdown of my five favorite essential oils and a few great ways to use them.

When applying oils to skin, be sure the particular oil you've chosen is safe for topical application. Also, many oils need to be diluted with water or a carrier oil, so always read the labels.

1. Lavender

The calming and soothing qualities of lavender are so well known — it is one of the most widely used essential oils and is easily available at any health food store.

Here are my favorite ways to use lavender:

  • As a scent on eye pillows for Restorative Yoga and/or Savasana
  • Place a 1-3 drops on cotton ball and place in closet for a natural moth repellent
  • Place a drop on the underside of your pillow at night, to help encourage a peaceful sleep

2. Lemon

I'm sure by now you've heard of the whole lemon water craze — drinking warm water with lemon each morning as a way to cleanse the system. But let's face it, whether we're yogis or not we're likely pretty busy, and we don't always have a fresh lemon on hand.

That's where a food-grade essential oil can come in handy! I use lemon essential oil in a pinch, or when I'm traveling and don't have access to a kitchen or fresh lemons. Using 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil in 8-10 ounces of water can be a great substitute for fresh lemon water.

My favorite uses for lemon essential oils:

  • As lemon water (make sure it's food grade!)
  • Diffuse in the home to freshen and uplift
  • Create natural cleaning solutions for the home
  • Place 1-3 drops in trash cans and toilets as a natural deodorizer

3. Peppermint

Peppermint is another great all-around oil with many uses. Please note, this oil always needs to be diluted if used topically on skin.

I've fallen in love with peppermint and use it in the following ways:

  • Place a single drop in your tea to energize (please make sure it's food grade!)
  • Dilute a single drop in a carrier oil and apply to temples to relieve stress
  • Dilute a single drop in a carrier oil and apply to belly to ease stomach discomfort
  • Open up the bottle, take an inhale, and enjoy a natural pick-me-up

4. Sandalwood

Sandalwood can be a bit pricey, especially if you find a responsibly sourced oil. But, it's so worth it! I buy the tiniest amount I can, because it lasts a long time.

Here are some great ways a yogi can use sandalwood:

  • Dilute a single drop in a carrier oil and apply to your neck for an uplifting mood
  • Dilute a single drop in carrier oil and apply to nape of neck before teaching, to preserve and "protect" your energy
  • Place 1-3 drops into your warm bath
  • Natural skincare products
  • Natural haircare products

5. Tea Tree or Melaleuca

Tea Tree oil has a nice medicinal scent, which gives you a hint to it's various uses.

Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use it:

  • Create natural cleaning solutions for the home
  • Natural skincare remedies
  • As a yoga mat cleaner

And as a bonus, here is my go-to mat cleaner recipe. It's best to use an aluminum or glass bottle for storage, because a plastic bottle will break-down over time.

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1/3 cup witch hazel
  • 12 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 6 drops lavender

Photos courtesy of the author