An amazing savasana can sweep away stress in minutes, but add essential oil to the mix, and you're in for the most relaxing therapy session ever. Sure, essential oils smell incredible, but it's their multitude of healing benefits that keep yogis (and non-yogis) completely hooked. L.A.-based yoga teacher Jacqueline Manalastas was first introduced to oils in Hawaii during college, when a local friend turned her on to a homemade blend of ylang ylang and almond oil to tame her ocean-weathered hair, and started incorporating them into her yoga practice years later. She swears by them for stress-relief, muscle recovery, and even better sleep and focus. Get her tips for adding essential oils to your practice and check out her all-time favorite oils for healing, below.
Want the full-on essential oil treatment? Join Jacqueline for an aromatherapy workshop at the Alo store in Santa Monica tonight from 7-8:15 (more on that here), and enjoy special aromatherapy sessions from Saje at Alo Thrive, our first ever 2-day yoga and wellness experience at the Grove August 16-17 (reserve a spot here)!
Incorporating essential oils into her yoga practice
If I’m sore and my body is a little tired but I’m going to have an active practice, I will use doTERRA's Deep Blue rub, infused with wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, eucalyptus, blue tansy, blue chamomile, osmanthus, ylang ylang and a few more oils. It gives a comforting sensation of cooling and warming, which my muscles love, and the smell of it is so uplifting.
For my students I use mostly grounding blends during savasana. A simple blend of lavender, Hawaiian sandalwood and frankincense mixed with a carrier of coconut oil always relaxes them. If a savasana massage isn’t an option, I will diffuse oils before class and during savasana.
The healing benefits of aromatherapy
Breathing is an integral part of yoga, and essential oils are great when taken aromatically. Because essential oils are highly concentrated, they have so many healing benefits. Over the years I’ve noticed they help me focus more, sleep better and—knock on wood—prevent sickness. I habitually use them on my son at night and for myself in the morning. I have come to trust essential oils very much and use them in some form every day.
Her advice to newcomers
Start with a few different essential oils and use them every day for at least three weeks. Observe how you feel and gradually add more. Keep it simple and build from there. When buying oils, do some research because you want to make sure there are no additives like alcohol or synthetic materials. Buy organic for the best results. If you have sensitive skin, always add a carrier oil like almond or coconut. You will cover more surface this way too.
Jacqueline's top 5 essential oils
Frankincense. It helps to instantly deepen the breath, and it fights depression, infections, inflammation and coughs. It's also great for wrinkles, stretch marks and scars.
Lavender. It helps fight addiction, allergies (airborne and skin), anxiety, burns, dry skin, hair loss, mosquito bites, chapped lips, stretch marks, teething pain, wounds and wrinkles. It’s also very calming and amazing for sleep.
Wild Orange. An uplifting and refreshing scent that's great for anxiety and insomnia.
Peppermint. It stimulates alertness and fights fatigue, morning sickness, migraines, shock, nausea, constipation, muscle cramps, cold sores, congestion and bad breath.
Lemongrass. Its primary use is for air purification. I use an FDA-approved version and also cook Thai lettuce wraps with it (you only need a drop!). It’s also used for balancing cholesterol and tissue repair and fights against hypothyroidism, muscle cramps, varicose veins, whiplash and gastritis.