I got a great question about how much Ayurveda uses aromatherapy. Thanks for the question!!
So, our nose is responsible for conducting one of the 5 senses, smell. In Ayurveda, we use the 5 senses as the sole vehicles for healing. Specifically, the nostrils consist of two channels (ida and pingala) which send messages directly to the brain. When we inhale deeply and exhale deep and long, it tells the mind that it can relax. Along similar lines, we can deliver messages to the brain through specific smells. Gingerbread, apple cider with cinnamon, burning fireplace wood, might tell our mind that it’s winter or holiday time. The sense of smell is the sense that connects directly to our brain and therefore smell is the closest sense to memory! (that was not Ayurvedic, just a fun fact)
In Ayurveda, we often incorporate aromatherapy into our massages, facial cleansers and oils, candles, diffusers, etc.,! It’s NICE to smell something good, but more than it being nice, it’s also an important method of healing because of the direct link to the brain. Aromatherapy is used in Ayurveda for calming and grounding vata, cooling and soothing pitta, and invigorating and lifting kapha.
You can use aromatherapy in your shower by just dropping a few drops on the floor of the shower. You can also mix them with oils to suit your dosha (sesame for vata, almond for pitta, sunflower for kapha) and apply to the skin as an overall massage, or simply on your temples and behind your ears. You can also steam a pot of water on the stove and drop a few drops in the water to permeate the room! mm!! Or, just carry them with you to work when you need an energetic or stress reducing break, and sniff away!
Below are some scents that balance each dosha
VATAS NEED: grounding, calm, peace of mind because of anxiety, worry, scattered mind, or depression. With a tendency to bite off more than they can chew, they often have feelings of being overworked.
SCENTS FOR VATA: Lavender, Orange Blossom, Geranium, Bergamot, Chamomile, Camphor, Patchouli,
PITTAS NEED: stress relief, surrender, release in keeping control, soothing, cooling for their quick temper. Diligent, timely and organized workers, pittas often feel angry that others don’t do the same. And they think it’s unfair. And they get mad.
SCENTS FOR PITTA: Geranium, Sandalwood, Rose, Lemongrass, Ylang Ylang, Lavender
KAPHAS NEED: invigoration, energy, movement, mental clarity, a sense of lightness. Kaphas tend to fall into a “rut” and it’s often hard to get out.
SCENTS FOR KAPHA: Eucalyptus, Camphor, Black Pepper, Citrus; Grapefruit & Lemon, Neroli, Ylang Ylang, Ginger