Saturday, November 24, 2012

Scent Alchemy

This week in the shala we were working with the use of scent to facilitate alchemy- growth and transformation.  Many traditions use scent and perfume for healing and growth- the bible has over 500 references to essential oils and the plants from which they are harvested and at the birth of Jesus, the 3 wise men came with gifts of essential oils, fragrance and resin.

Or the concentration on subtle sense perception can cause steadiness of mind. 
Yoga Sutras 1.35
Patanjali tells us that one of the ways to quiet the mind (and to move toward enlightenment) is by working with subtle sense perception. 
The sense of smell is considered exalted because of its connection to the breath- the vehicle for prana.  The experience the scent of something is to commune with its essence.
Scents may be categorized into solar scents and lunar scents.  Solar frangrances are energizing and invigorating and lunar fragrances are calming and soothing to the nervous system.  A solar scent, like orange, would be great to use before a hot practice, like sun salutations. Lunar scents, like lavender or sandalwood, would be great to use before meditation.
The scent of burning aromatic artemesias like sage and mugwort purify the pranic body and help us to let go of what no longer serves us.  They are nice to burn before or after a Yoga practice.

A perfect perfume has 12 notes, or scent ingredients, that come together in 3 chords chosen for their harmonic affinity.

The first chord is the head, the first impression the perfume makes, which lasts a few minutes.
The second chord is the heart, the theme of the perfume, which last for several hours.
And the third chord is the base, the tail of the scent, which lasts for several days.

A relationship with Yoga practice has similarities- there is the first impression- we may decide that we like or do not like practicing Yoga right away.  Then we experience the heart chord- the honeymoon is over and we either decide to stay with it and dive deeper into the theme of the practice or we decide to quit all together.  The base chord is the result of practice which we start to see in all areas of our lives.

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