Aromas act directly on the brain through nerve receptors in the nose. Millions of nerve cells in our nasal passageways send impulses to the hypothalamus and limbic area, which are the brain’s emotional centers. Aroma of certain oils is linked to the amygdala and pineal gland in the brain, which are also associated with emotion, thus it can help the mind and body by depressing emotional trauma (Di Ciacco, 2009).
Lavender is associated with relaxed brain waves. Thus, when a child is upset, deep diaphragm breathing coupled with lavender, will have a calming affect on the central nervous system. Research demonstrates breathing exercises have been successful in reducing anxiety related to attachment disorder, agoraphobia or general anxiety disorder (Overholser, 2000).
Children often need visual reminders to breathe, especially when they are upset. I make bracelets with lavender scented flowers. When the child is upset and breathing shallowly, I provide the cue, “Stop and smell the flowers.” Nine deep breaths are needed to calm the central nervous system.
Additionally, I use essential oils when teaching yoga. When mixing essential oils, always use oils that are pure and from a respectable source. Essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil such as sesame or olive oil in a specific ratio. So if you can’t find a flower to smell, make one.
Di Ciacco, J. A. (2008). The colors of grief: Understanding a child’s journey through loss from birth to adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Overholser, J.C. (2000). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic disorder. Psychotherapy, 37, 247-256.