Liquid Memory ~ Aromatherapy and Ayurveda

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived.”~ Helen Keller

The smell of cookies in the oven, a field of lavender, fresh red roses can send remarkable memory reflections for us. This is the power of aromatherapy. I call it Liquid memory. Scent is routed to our brain’s limbic system, a place where memory and emotions are stored only to be revisited when triggered by an experience. By smelling a rose for example it can transport us like hitting the rewind button on the tape deck (I know if you still had one!) and take us back to that time and place, either positive or not so positive.

The wisdom of plants and their energy is a huge part of Ayurvedic medicine and healing. Just like Ayurveda’s myriad of self-care techniques, the use of essential oils holds a powerful role in promoting relaxation, rejuvenation and I know for me effect and facilitate a change in consciousness when used with meditation, yoga, and prayer. I am sure you have at some point when experiencing a moment of stress you reach for your favorite bottle of essential oil and take the deepest breath you have, what happens? Yes, an immediate sense of relief.

Distillation of plant material produces essential oils, the life force of the plant, which in turn affects our life force! A beautiful symbiotic relationship.

The potency of essential oils must be treated with reverence. They must be diluted by a carrier oil (almond, jojoba oil, grape seed) to name a few. They are directly absorbed through the skin, sinuses, lung membranes, depending on its application, causing powerful changes in metabolism. Many essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. One huge proponent of using essential oils, it can serve as a catalyst for transformation of mental body and soul.

One important tidbit to mention regarding essential oils is how the perfume world classifies them according to base notes, middle notes and top notes. This might be helpful in the language of Ayurveda. In general most of the base notes are your roots and spices, middles notes are your heart notes or floral and top notes being your citrus notes.

How does Aromatherapy relate to Ayurveda?

Once we understand the energies of each dosha, and know that opposites balance with each of the doshas then we can begin to play and create lifestyle tools to balance and harmonize each of these energies.

Vata energy:

We know is cool and dry so essential oils that warming and grounding will be beneficial. Our roots and spices fall in this category.
Vata essential oils: Anise, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Ginger, Sandalwood, Vanilla, and Vetiver.

If you are familiar with essential oils you already know that these are very grounding, warming, increases circulation, which benefits Vata dosha.

Pitta energy:

We know that cooling oils play a vital role in pacifying fiery nature. Our middle notes come into play here, the flower essential oils.
Pitta essential oils: Jasmine, Rose, lavender, coriander, Fennel, Hina (saffron attar), Peppermint, Neroli, Ylang Ylang

Kapha energy:

Benefits from heating, drying and stimulating essential oils. The top notes fall in this category. Aromas that first hit the nose and are quite energizing and zingy! Kapha will also benefit from resins and spices, which activate fluid movement and metabolism, reducing mucous and moisture.
Kapha essential oils: Eucalyptus, Clary Sage, Cumin, Ginger, Juniper, Lemongrass, Myrrh, Orange, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Thyme, and Tangerine.

I would like to point out that the above mentioned essential oils are appropriate for each dosha, however all oils can be used by any dosha depending on the situation.

In the last article on Abhyanga (self massage) is a great way to customize your body oil with an aroma that you like. This way you can create a blend that addresses what you need depending on your environment.

Ayurveda is also a huge study in the behavior of the mind stuff! How can we begin to calm and sweeten this mind of ours? Ayurveda and Yoga both subscribe to a daily ritual of meditation. Why not begin to incorporate a drop of your favorite aroma in the palm of your hand, rub your palms briskly to cause friction and bring the aroma alive, place the palms over your face and take a deep breath in….. repeating several times. This alone begins to settle the mind and body bringing a sense of equanimity to your being. Try this simple ritual before any endeavor (yoga, driving, studying, the list goes on! Now each time you smell this aroma there is a cellular memory that knows “I am at peace and I am relaxed”. Magic!

Aromatherapy and Emotions:

We know how certain aromas have a powerful effect on our emotional temperature. Some of us depending on our personality and receptivity can be affected by essential oils, for balancing the nervous system and calming emotions. The action is subtle, much different than a major tranquilizer.
Here is a list of a few essential oils that affect the nervous system and energetic level.

Anger: Rose, Ylang Ylang, and Chamomile
Anxiety: Lavender, Neroli, and Bergamot
Lack of Confidence: Frankincense, Jasmine, Neroli and Peppermint
Confusion: Carrot seed, Rose,
Depression: Bergamot, Geranium, Grapefruit, Clary Sage, Jasmine, Rose, and Marjoram
Fear: Frankincense, Sandalwood, Juniper, and Lavender
Insomnia: Lavender, Neroli, and Marjoram
Stress: Lavender, Rose, Sandalwood, Sage, Vetiver, Eucalyptus and Angelica

Blending ratios:

Massage oils- 5 to 18 drops of essential oil in 1oz carrier oil. We have already mentioned specific massage oils for your dosha. These would be considered your carrier oils.
Bath: Hydrotherapy
Salts: Add the essential oils into a bath salt. (Sea Salt and Epsom Salts are nice.) Add 8-10 drops total of essential oil to each ounce of salt. Use 1 tablespoon of that blended salt in a full bath.
Milk: Add 3-4 total drops of essential oil to a cup of milk. Add the milk to your full bath, just like Cleopatra did.
Jojoba oil: Add 3-4 drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of Jojoba oil and add to your full bath.
Room Spray – In a 2-ounce spray bottle filled with water add 10-15 drops of essential oils and spray freely in any room. Makes nice linen spray as well for your sheets and towels.
Steam Inhalation- To do a steam; add 1 drop of essential oil, or 1 drop of a blend of several essential oils, to a bowl of steamy water. Make sure the water is just steaming, not boiling.

CLOSE YOUR EYES and lean over the bowl and breathe in the oil. To enhance the effects use a towel over your head to create a tent to hold the steam in.

As you can see The Art of Aromatherapy is a lifestyle. Rituals to transform our home, our body and mind. Begin experimenting with a few and soon it will become a habit just like brushing your teeth! The simple pleasures of life take on a whole new meaning. This is Ayurveda ~ The Art of Sacred Living.

A few of my favorite resources:

Natural Perfumes: Simple Aromatherapy Recipes, by Mindy Green
Aromatherapy for Everyone, by PJ Pierson and Mary Shipley‎
Ayurveda and Aromatherapy, by Dr Light and Bryan Miller
Floracopeia – one of my favorite essential oil companies
Aromatics International– another great resource to buy essential oils, bottles etc.
Aromahead – a great school if you would like to learn more about aromatherapy and get certified.

Last but not least I leave you with a blend from my friend and author Mindy Green.

A blend promoting courage, protection, and support as we navigate this one magnificent life…CHARGE ON!

Last but not least I leave you with a blend from my friend and author Mindy Green.

A blend promoting courage, protection, and support as we navigate this one magnificent life…CHARGE ON!

May your path be filled with the perfume called PEACE!

Infinite Love and Gratitude!


12 drops lavender oil
3 drops of black pepper oil
3 drops angelica oil
3 drops myrrh oil
2 drops sage oil
Add essential oils to a carrier oil of almond or jojoba oil in a 2oz. dark brown or cobalt blue glass bottle. Keep away from direct sunlight.

Blessings and Love,

Anita has traveled the world inspiring health and wellness through the traditions of Yoga and Ayurveda. She currently facilitates Yoga Alliance approved yoga teacher trainings, offers lifestyle and wellness education programs and women’s sacred retreats at some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
She lives in Seal Beach, California with her husband, Goyo, and their dog, Goldie.

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