I can’t recall if I was walking through an airport or a store, but several years ago I was stopped in my tracks by a certain smell.
I couldn’t verbalize or explain why at the moment, yet the smell made my heart smile. That inner joy stayed with me the rest of the day.
Later, the event came back to me & I wondered, ‘Where have I smelled that before?’ It took me a while, yet the connection was finally made — my grandma’s perfume.
When I was growing up, we’d visit my grandparents once a year, in the summer. My dad carried us into the conversion van (yep, fold out bed & swivel passenger chairs – SWEET) at midnight, & would drive us 12 hours from NE Oklahoma to northern Illinois, so we’d make it to my grandparents’ house for the afternoon & following week. My younger brother & I would pull out the 5,000 piece puzzle that would be a fixture on the screened-in porch for the week. We’d get out the slip-n-slide & ruin my grandparents’ perfectly manicured grass. We’d catch fireflies in mason jars for our nightlight near the bed — & we’d fight over who had to sleep in the bed nearest the scary attic door upstairs (evil elves, you know).
And my grandma always wore the same perfume. I didn’t realize it was perfume til decades later; I just thought that’s how Grandma smelled =).
It’s interesting to me now, because I have been averse to most commercial perfumes all my life to this day. Walking past the perfume counters at a department store (which I avoid if at all possible anyway, ha!) has always been a nightmare.
Talking with Grandma recently about this, it seems I take after her: Grandma hates perfume too! The only one she’d wear is called Ciara:
Studies have shown that our sense of smell triggers memories/emotions much more quickly & strongly than our sense of sight. A study from 2015 explains how our sense of smell is connected to our limbic system, a much “older” part of the brain, so to speak, than our prefrontal cortex which develops over our childhood & young adult years … & how smells can affect our mindset, emotions & how we make it through our days. I encourage you to check out the study & see what resonates with you.
Taking this concept into our home practice space — how can we use scent to cultivate a sense of sacred space around our yoga practice? What do you want to FEEL before, during, after your home practice? A sense of ease? strength? determination? calm? happiness? … there are so many options, & your desired feeling may change from day to day depending on your body, schedule, projects, responsibilities, unforeseen circumstances, etc.
While I’m not much into perfume, essential oils, certain types of incense, & / or candles (used with fire safety in mind) evoke certain positive feelings for me. You’ll find a ton of suggestions by doing a simple online search — yet you’ll want to use your own intuition & inner knowing to know what scents are right for you. For example, lavender (the quintessential “relaxing” scent) evokes a sense of calm for some people — for others, instant headache! And while some scents can empower you, the same scent might trigger a traumatic memory for someone else. (I’ve started to shy away from diffusing scents in a community yoga space unless I truly know the group I’m working with, or have advertised that the class/workshop involves essential oils.)
One other caveat: If you have pets, please do your research on your fave essential oils before diffusing. Here’s an introductory article from Doterra, yet make sure to also do your own research & check with your vet.
Hopefully you’re getting more & more inspiration for your home practice space – from clearing the clutter to adding inviting textures to incorporating your favorite smells =). I look forward to hearing from you — share your home practice space here or tag me on Instagram or Facebook with a picture if you’re game!
See you online soon for home practice!