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It’s Friday again, so if you find yourself in need or some R&R at the end of today (or any day) try exploring the world of aromatherapy for relaxation. Aromas can have amazing effects on the mind and body. This is a concept most of us have some familiarity with as it is common to have emotional attachments to different scents. There is probably a smell from your childhood or from a favorite food that can bring back memories, calm your nerves or take you to a happy place. This is due to an interaction between scent molecules and the limbic system, which plays an important part in memory formation, the pleasure center of the brain and also influences the autonomic nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood pressure.
Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils as a natural remedy for stress reduction and to relieve tension. These oils, which are derived from plants can be burned on incense, added to a bath, heated in a burner or added to massage oil among other uses.
Here are five different scents that help the body to relax. There is a little something for everyone, whether you prefer a refreshing citrus, a sweet floral or fruity exotic.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)– This oil is derived from the peel of the fruit and has a spicy, citrus scent. Bergamot provides a soothing effect and is good for releasing tension. Add a few drops to a warm bath and relax. Aviod use before prolonged exposure to the sun.
Frankincense (Boswellia)– An aromatic tree resin with a comforting, musty scent that has a calming effect on the body and that also works as an anti-inflammatory. Burn an incense stick as you listen to some relaxing music. Not safe for use during pregnancy.
Lavender (Lavandula)– With its relaxing floral scent, this oil, produced from the flowers of the Lavender plant, promotes energy balance, relaxes the body and soothes the mind. Dilute and massage into the skin at the end of your day.
Sandalwood (Santalum)– A woody scent, derived from the actual wood of the tree. Sandalwood is known to help with insomnia, also soothes and relaxes the body promoting feelings of peace and serenity. Add a couple of drops to a vaporizer before bed and have sweet dreams.
Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)– An exotic scent distilled from flowers in an elaborate process. Ylang ylang means “flower of flower” and is wonderful for relieving stress. Add to an oil burner to bathe your senses and balance your energies. Can irritate sensitive skin.
Take some time today to breathe in the relaxing benefits of aromatherapy.
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+