Head Rush: Why Aromatherapy Oils Can Power Up Your Workout

The potent botanical elixirs that can motivate your mind—and body…

This post comes to you from beauty contributor Kari Molvar.

Inhaling aromatherapy oils has long been known to alter your mood—but the spiritual, centuries-old ritual can influence your physical abilities, too. Depending on the blend, a fresh whiff of these botanical elixirs can rev up your body before a 10-mile run or calm your senses during a 6o-minute restorative stretch class. So no wonder modern wellness experts have been tapping into the potent benefits for their daily workouts lately. Here, two fitness pros talk about how to incorporate essential oils into your own practice.

Learn the key moves:

“I use essential oils in my daily life,” says Eve Lynn Kessner, a cult-favorite instructor at SoulCycle who concocts her own custom blends. She recommends mixing essential oils into a carrier oil, like jojoba or sweat almond, before applying to your skin to prevent any irritation (note: it’s a good idea to talk to your dermatologist if you’re sensitive or prone to reactions). “I’ll put anywhere from five to 15 drops of essential oils into an ounce of my carrier oil, depending on how potent I want the blend to be.”

Pre-workout warm-up:

“In the winter, I use a spicy blend of rosemary, clove and orange to perk me up and get me emotionally ready for my work ahead,” says Kessner. “It’s especially great for any sweaty spin workout or hot yoga.” New York City-based trainer Angela Hubbs, is similarly obsessed with aromatherapy. “I’ve been using oils for about two or three years now,” she says. “I was intrigued by having a healthy natural way to take care of my health, deal with pain and adjust my mood.” For instant energy, she likes a blend of eucalyptus, peppermint, laurel leaf, melaleuca, ravensara, cardamom, and lemon. “This support your respiratory system, so I use it before I do any cardio.” Or for a ready-made alternative, try dabbing Flora Remedia’s Uplifting Treatment Oil on your wrists.

Stay focused while you sweat:

To sharpen your concentration during yoga, Pilates, meditation or any rigorous activity that requires mental attentiveness, reach for a grounding assortment of botanicals. Hubbs recommends a mixture of lavender, majoram, chamomile, ylang ylang, sandalwood and vanilla. “This calms and slows the nervous system,” she says, adding that, as a bonus, “it helps relieve stress.” We also like Soul Sunday’s Inhale & Exhale Aromatherapy Oil Set, which includes a set of two yoga-inspired medleys (a centering earthy floral and a bright, spirit-boosting citrus).

Wind down post-workout:

Kessner is a firm believer in the power of the cool-down after a tough workout. “If I don’t recover well, my body is achy for the next. If I’m achy, my head isn’t in the game. Recovery is key and essential oils help my body recovery successfully,” she says. “Mints revive tired muscles. Arnica gets blood flowing to areas that need healing from soreness. Lavender heals and let’s me sleep at night.” You can apply those oils individually or reach for Living Libation’s Sweet Sleep Serum—rich in vanilla, hemp blossoms and spikenhard—to lull your body into relaxation.

Master the application techniques:

The best place to apply any blend of oils? The bottoms of your feet, which helps increase absorption, says Hubbs. She also likes to put a drop of her pre-workout oil under her nose and on her chest to help open up her airways. Or try rubbing your mixture between your palms and breathing it in, then massaging a tiny bit on the pulse points behind your ears, so you’ll subtly inhale the scent (but not be overwhelmed by it during rounds of planks and burpees). Kessner, for her part, targets the muscles that she works the hardest. “Areas for me that need most attention are my upper back, and my quads and glutes because of all the cycling!”

Comments

  1. I have always toyed with the idea of burning a little oil during my night time yoga. I’ve used both lavender and yoga separately to stave away insomnia, which creeps up on me from time to time, so it does make sense to blend the two together. It would certainly nail two birds with one stone :)

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