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Back-to-School with Aromatherapy

For many people, especially students, September can bring with it a frenetic change of pace. Summer holidays are over, and life and work demand our full attention as the seasons change. In the Ayurvedic tradition, we are moving into vata season, a time of dryness and coolness when anxiety and overstimulation arise. Our central nervous systems can become sensitive during the highly stimulating back-to-school weeks–a time when we need to be focused and engaged.

Glynnis Osher, Ayurvedic practitioner and the facilitator of the Vancouver School of Healing Arts’ Aroma 911 Online Course, offers her insight into the changing of the seasons: “,  wisdom says that we should pay attention to the changes in our environment and in our bodies and minds. We need to balance these changes by doing the opposite thing.”

As a counterpoint to the excitement of vata, Glynnis recommends grounding and stabilizing our physical and emotional bodies with aromatherapy.

“There is so much variation in body and weather, if we let ourselves go in the Fall, we get pulled off course and don’t establish a routine.” Glynnis teaches preventative self-care techniques in Aroma 911 that can improve focus and shore up our bodies defenses against illness. “If we neglect to pay attention to how our environment, thoughts, and emotions affect our health, emergencies can happen in the long run. Aroma 911 helps us understand how each essential oil works to support our health through the season, but also what to do when we reach that emergency state.”

So, how do we support our concentration and physical and emotional health through the anxieties of back-to-school?

Glynnis’ approach has three goals:

  1. Grounding: “The oils of nutmeg, vetiver, and jatamansi (spikenard) settle the nervous system and allow the mind to rest.”
  2. Fortifying: “A heavier, warming oil such as sesame makes a good carrier oil. When you use a carrier oil to transport the essential oil into the body, it is feeding the tissues, energetic body, and mental and emotional bodies.”
  3. Warming: “Warming citrus oils like orange and grapefruit, and also lavender, bring calm.”

How can we incorporate these tips into our daily practice?

You can add a combination of these essential oils to your diffuser, but Glynnis also has another suggestion: “Self-massage is a wonderful Ayurvedic practice. Make a synergistic blend like orange, nutmeg, and vetiver with sesame and sunflower oil. Once per week, do a beautiful, luscious self-massage for twenty minutes, and then shower afterwards. This can help to stabilize and nourish and to alleviate the anxiety and depression that can come about as it gets darker later in the year.”

The Vancouver School of Healing Arts offers the online course, Aroma 911, as a go-at-your-own-pace learning experience for aromatherapy novices and enthusiasts alike. Glynnis also shares additional recipes with participants in an online, members-only Facebook group and in addition teaches these components in the Self-Care and Aromatherapy courses of the Bodywork Therapy Program.

“It’s not about changing everything,” says Glynnis. “It’s about being more mindful of how you do things and what you can incorporate into your daily practice that can sustain you through the changing seasons.”