The use of fragrant substances for yoga and mindfulness is an ancient practice called Gandha. Perfect to help you settle down to sleep, Sinead Duffy of yogandha.com has developed this Gandha Sleep Ritual for our Big Sleep Challenge.
The Gandha Sleep Ritual has 3 stages:
- Soothing water
- Fragrant Breath Work
If you have a bathtub – fill it up! Hippocrates said that the way to health was a fragrant bath everyday and water is incredibly soothing on the nervous system. It will perfectly unwind you before bed while fragrant aromas deeply enhance the experience.
Pick out some of your favourite essential oils which should be 100% natural and reasonably fresh. Choose from lavender, chamomile roman, blue chamomile, frankincense, vetiver marjoram, benzoin, clary sage, vetiver, hops or valerian. Never put oils directly into the bath but always mix before in some base oil.
For even deeper sleep, Yogandha Relax has been formulated for exactly this purpose. It is a very rich and soothing blend and has an extraordinary effect on the mind and body to facilitate relaxation and sleep. Pour 5-10 mls directly into the bath before stepping in.
Good news if you don’t have a bath: you can still do the ritual with a basin and split the ritual into two separate parts. A brain bath and a foot bath will get the same results as lying in the fragrant waters.
- Put the pure oils or the Yogandha Relax into a basin of steaming water, cover your head with a towel and breathe. Feel the immediate effects on the mind as the steam surrounds your head.
- When the basin has cooled, place it on the floor and have a soothing foot bath. Yes, you can watch TV while having your foot bath but the aim is to foster good sleep, so a better idea would be to read. Try a favourite poetry book as this should further soothe the mind.
Abhyanga is an ancient technique of yogic self-massage.
Do the full routine when you can but on days when time is short, doing part of the routine will still work as the body will physically remember the relaxation derived from those days when you did the whole thing. This is even more powerful when you use the same fragrant blend used, as smells have a deep impact on our memory.
Again, Yogandha Relax is perfect for this because it’s safe to use directly on the skin and formulated precisely for deep relaxation.
Fragrant Breath Work
The final part of the 3-part Gandha Sleep Ritual is fragrant breathwork. To do this we recommend the Yogandha Ground Rollerball as it’s easy to use and can be applied neat.
If you don’t have Yogandha Ground, you can use one of the oils that go into it such as Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh or Vetiver. Remember that undiluted essential oils should be blended with base oil before applying to the skin.
Rub your oil blend onto these pulse points:
- Third eye
Now exhale fully in preparation for a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing.
Make a fist with your right hand, opening out your thumb and little finger. Close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe out gently through the left nostril.
Breathe in from the left nostril and then close the left nostril gently with the little finger. Removing the thumb from the right nostril, breathe out then in from the right nostril.
Again, close the right nostril and exhale from the left.
Continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils for about nine rounds.
As you breathe be aware of the actions of the herbs. Sandalwood will quiet the mind and calm any irritations from the day. Lavender will relax and help you to let go. Frankincence will deepen and steady the breath. Vetiver will ground you. Be mindful of the fragrant substances bringing you into a restful and calming state.
Remember that any one of the 3-parts can be done on its own. Do all three when you can and when you can’t, choose the one that you have time for or the one that your body is asking for most. Try to do all three for a few weeks and then at least one every night to maintain a deep and restful sleep.
This post was written by yoga teacher, gandha expert and creator of the natural wellness body oils company, yogandha.com