Sonya Wilder shares about integrating aromatherapy and yoga to help deepen the asana practice and breathe in your intentions more fully.
How did you find yoga?
I found yoga from being a professional dancer for many years in New York City and Los Angeles. I had given birth to my eldest son in 1997. Yoga had always come across my path and I thought, ‘Eh, it’s boring, dance is great.” And then, I wasn’t dancing. I saw a video from the Gaiam company with Rodney Yee. I did it every day and it shifted everything. It brought my body back. It was a way for me to tap into myself.
Then I just kept buying tape after tape, until I had the entire Gaiam collection. My friends were noticing my body and how it was shifting. They had had babies and they wanted to get their bodies back and they asked me to teach them.
How did you find aromatherapy and essential oils?
Aromatherapy found me, just like yoga found me, many years ago. I loved essential oils but I was having a hard time that I would break out. I figured I was allergic to essential oils.
DoTerra essential oils came to me two years ago, through my friend Dario, who went through teacher training at Yoga Union. He sells Hanuman Chocolates with the Doterra essential oils in them here. They’re addictive. He’s an amazing raw food chef and chocolatier.
He offered me the oils and said, “These are going to be really different.”
I smelled them and said, “No I don’t want to break out.”
He said, “No, you don’t understand, these essential oils are super pure, they’re beyond organic.” So I tried them on my skin and I didn’t break out. I bought the essential oils of frankincense and sandalwood and I loved them.
I went to an essential oil gathering at my mentor Tatiana’s house. I was just mesmerized. I had to touch them, smell them, look at them. I thought, ‘I have to have these.” I waited a month and I signed up for a wholesale account with DoTerra and started getting just a few essential oils for my kit, and people started buying them through me and I added them to my yoga, offering aroma yoga classes.
How do you use essential oils in your aroma yoga class?
When I teach aroma yoga, I always include the aromatherapy with it. I sit down and I talk about the theme, and we bring in the intention of the aroma yoga practice. I have an emotions and essential oils book. I always pick an essential oil based on the theme of the intention.
If I’m working with non-attachment, when we’re allowing an emotion to come in and we feel it and let it pass because we’ve taken everything out of it that we need. There’s an essential oil for that, it’s called oregano. Oregano oil is too hot to put on the body, so we’ll use it just to smell. Everybody will pass the essential oil around to smell it while I’m reading on how you can use oregano oil to stay non-attached. Then we’ll go into a meditation.
Most of the time, it’s not a hot essential oil. Say we’re talking about communicating from your heart, Lavender oil. I’ll have everyone put lavender oil in their palm and rub it over their throat chakra, because it helps you speak your peace. Everyone will bathe in lavender oil, and then they’ll cup their hands over their nose and mouth and smell while they go into meditation. I’ll read how Lavender essential oil benefits us emotionally and spiritually. Then I’ll bring us into ujjayi breath. I’ll have everybody turn into their intention, ‘Where do you need to speak your truth?’ We might do some mantra’s or Aums.
Then we get right into alignment-based vinyasa flow or yin. We’ll do our Iyengar props and do our asana with lots of movement, lots of sun salutations. I’ll cue in the emotions and invite everyone to cup their hands over their nose and tune into that essential oil scent and bring you back to that divine communication.
During savasana, I will offer a foot treatment or a neck release with the essential oils. It’s rare for people to refuse, and I will work usually 25 seconds on each students’ feet, doing the Chinese foot map massage in the feet, or doing the neck release, spending time doing cranial sacral.
Usually, half the class comes up and they want to know more about the essential oils. Every time, people say, “That’s incredible, I’ve never had anything like that.”
How has the response to aroma yoga been at Yoga Union?
They love it. When I’m teaching aroma yoga, I have this regular following. They love what I teach and they love the aromatherapy. I am so pleased that I am touching people in some way.
You can join Sonya’s yoga classes at Yoga Union. She is currently subbing for the 2 pm. Vinyasa Basics on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Keep on the lookout for her 10-week Aroma Vinyasa Flow workshop at the new studio in 2014.
See the schedule HERE.