Aromatherapy And Ayurveda: Ancient Wisdoms For Modern Wellness
Aromatherapy and Essential Oils go hand in hand. In fact, aromatherapy is often called essential oil therapy and the terms are used interchangeably quite often.
Defined as the therapeutic or medicinal use of aromatic substances for holistic healing, aromatherapy has been around for centuries, with records indicating its use by ancient civilizations. In Ayurveda, the use of aroma has always been considered an important tool for the prevention of illnesses and healing of the body and mind.
Use of certain scents in healing is an age-old tradition. Sandalwood, for example, has been used since times immemorial for meditation and auspicious ceremonies. Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, is believed to have many uses, and has been used throughout history for many purposes.
In Ayurveda, the term dosha (or dosh) is described as “that which can cause problems”.
The Ayurvedic doshas, a quick guide
Ayurveda talks about a three-dosha theory, wherein the fluctuation of three fundamental substances that are vata constituted by space and air, pitta represented by fire and water and kapha that signifies water and earth determine the various conditions that define the life of a person. The Ayurvedic theory of dosha describes how bad habits, wrong diets, overwork, etc, may cause relative deficiencies or excesses, causing imbalances relative the natural state of the body, eventually leading to diseases. Like other Ayurvedic practices, ayurvedic aromatherapy also aims to balance these doshas.
Balancing the Ayurvedic doshas with Aromatherapy
Essential oils are concentrated extracts obtained from trees and plants. They contain the essences, or scents, of the plants they are extracted from, and are believed to be the core of the plants, hence carrying the beneficial properties that the source contained. And so, effectiveness of the essential oil is dependent on the purity of the oil. Pure essential oils are what truly allow for the balance of the dosha, leading to a healthy lifestyle.
So, how exactly is aromatherapy practised?
To anyone reading this thinking it’s some complex and far-fetched practise, it might not be as difficult or foreign of a concept as you’d think. The use of natural scents to enhance various household and lifestyle products is a common practise. Essential oils are used as ingredients in household cleaning and disinfecting products, in soaps and shampoos, and even to keep harmful pests away from plants and households.
The most common practise involves using essential oils in diffusers, or can be applied externally, for nourishing the skin, or as massage oils. Some essential oils can even be consumed, albeit in very small doses, for various benefits.
The benefits of essential oils vary depending on the oils used. From relieving body pain, to reducing stress and anxiety, aromatherapy can help with many ailments. This brings us back to what we talked about earlier – the three dosha theory.
Vata dosha is characterized by coldness, dryness, agility, and light. Sweet, soothing, and warming oils are often used to balance the vata dosha. Fragrances like sandalwood, jasmine, sweet orange, lavender, ginger, lemon, and Ylang Ylang are often used for these purposes.
Pitta dosha represents metabolism and is characterized by moistness and heat. Cooling and soothing oils, such as jasmine, rose, mint, and frankincense are often used to balance the pitta dosha.
Finally, there’s the kapha dosha which is characterized by heaviness, coldness, tenderness, and slowness. Warm and stimulating oils like eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint are best to balance this dosha.
Blending various essential oils can help tremendously for multiple cases. In the end, researching and finding out what’s best for each person is usually the best practise and the balance needed varies for each individual.