I've been really excited about using essential oils lately, and I've been learning so much about their benefits. There truly is an essential oil for every health issue! Essential oils are distilled or cold-pressed from plant parts (leaves, flowers, fruits, stems, etc depending on the plant). They can have healing properties both physically and emotionally.
Word of caution: Essential oils are powerful and children are sensitive to them- so always dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil (like coconut, almond, olive, etc.) if using topically, and always have parents sign a form that asks about allergies! Some children with special needs are especially sensitive to smells, so it is always better to double-check with parents about sensitivities. Be sure to ask permission of the venue as well (some schools don't allow scented products in the classroom). The safety of using specific oils with children depends on the age range you are working with. For great info on this and a helpful chart, check out Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood. Luckily for us, she lists lavender oil as being safe for all ages, even newborns. So if in doubt, go with lavender!
If I haven't scared you off yet, here are some games and uses for essential oils in a kids yoga class:
1. Guess the Scent game-
Select a variety of essential oils. For each oil, put a drop on a cotton ball, and then put the cotton ball in its own small jar or container (like a film canister). Be sure to label the jar with a color or number so you can keep track of which oil is in which container. Pass the jars around to each child so they can guess the oil. You could also have 2 sets of each jar of oils and have kids work with partners. One partner closes their eyes and one partner holds the bottles for them to smell and guess.
2. Match the oil-
Similar to the Guess the Scent game, but have 2 sets of the same oils on cotton in jars. Children get to smell one set, and then finding the matching oils in the other set with their noses. (Be sure that you label one set with numbers and the other with colors so that they are truly using their noses.)
3. Relaxation spray for the room-
Give a spritz at the beginning of class to help soothe a rambunctious group, at the end during relaxation and savasana, or even in the middle of the class when you feel like the energy level needs to be brought down.
4. Relaxing foot rubs with lavender oil diluted in coconut oil or unscented lotion-
Have kids massage their own feet or take turns with a partner. It's a fun time to introduce a kid-friendly reflexology chart too.
5. Keeping the room germ free
Do you cringe when there are a lot of sniffles and sneezing around you in yoga class? Help keep everyone healthy, including you (!), with a spritz of essential oil- most are antibacterial and antiviral! I like doTERRAs OnGuard or Young Living Thieves Oil (both are a combo of citrus, clove, and cinnamon and specifically blended for immunity boosting).
Lemon Oil and Peppermint Oil both help with concentration. Do an experiment where everyone tries a balancing pose, then spritz some essential oil spray, and do the pose again. Was it easier the second time after smelling an oil that helps you concentrate? (Lemon and Peppermint are safe for ages 2+ according to Worwood).
7. Lavender Oil Smudge at Third Eye-
One of my favorite memories in a yoga class was when a yoga teacher gave me a smudge of lavender oil in between my eyebrows during savasana. I could feel the sensation of the oil long after she left, my concentration naturally drew inwards, and I could smell the scent of lavender as I continued relaxing. If you are doing this with kids, always dilute the lavender with a carrier oil, don't get it in their eyes, and of course, ask their permission first. FYI- I would only do this in a private lesson setting so that I didn't feel rushed to get to every single kid in the class before savasana was over...
8. Read "Lavender Fields" and Spray Lavender Oil Spray-
Imaginations 2 has a story about a lavender field. Read it to them while spraying lavender essential oil room spray. It is the perfect way to integrate lavender essential oil, relaxation, and yoga. Kids can imagine that they are lying in a lavender field while they are smelling the fragrance of lavender! The story is here.
The connection between smell and memory can be powerful, so if nothing else, you are creating powerful memories in kids yoga by using essential oils!
Have fun with oils, and stay tuned for some more fun ideas for using essential oils in class!