Whether it’s putting on a cute new pair of leggings or blasting my favorite new Backstreet Boys song (don’t @ me—that new album is amazing), I’m all about finding ways to make a workout more enjoyable. And during a recent yoga class, I discovered that the key to going harder-better-faster-stronger might actually be through scent.
Before I slipped into my first sun salutation yesterday morning at an event for P.E. Nation’s new collaboration with O&M, Urban Zen yoga instructor Menna Olvera Feder asked the group to inhale the scent from a small cotton pad dipped in essential oils that had been placed on our mats before the start of class. It was a combination of peppermint and frankincense, and the scent was intoxicating. When I entered the room, I had been feeling tired and just kind of meh (it was first thing in the morning, the weather was gross—you know what I mean), but one quick inhale of the unassuming square of cotton had me perked up and ready to focus.
And, it seems, that was Feder’s plan all along. “Both the oils have benefits for the brain because they contain sesquiterpenes which stimulate the mind,” she says. “I was looking to energize you for the morning, so I used peppermint and to create a mindful state of being, which is why I selected frankincense.” Both oils tout a ton of feel-good properties on their own, and when they’re combined, they become even stronger. Peppermint, she says, increases mental accuracy and is uplifting and invigorating. Frankincense, on the other hand, anecdotally increases spiritual awareness and promotes meditation.
After breathing in the EOs ahead of what I can honestly call one of the most well-focused and enjoyable yoga classes I’ve ever taken, I can confirm first-hand that it really does work. Feder explained that she wanted the class to leave feeling “grounded yet uplifted so we could make choices, decisions and be creative with a sense of mindfulness or presence.” And even in my post-Savasana haze, I was ready to take on the day.
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