3 ways deep breathing helps us heal

deep breathing

By Katie Staab

I opened my eyes, disoriented in the snowy January twilight, and immediately knew I needed to focus on my breath. I was just coming to after losing control of my car on an icy road, resulting in a collision that sent my car careening into the ditch. In the hours to come, I’d learn that my four rib fractures had punctured my right lung, filling my chest cavity with fluid and collapsing my lung. Yet, even without the medical explanations, I knew in that initial moment of consciousness that I needed to breathe.

Since my accident, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about breathing. Deep breathing is important to the physical healing of my lung, but I’m also learning its place in the emotional, mental and spiritual process of healing. In yoga, prana is a sanskrit word for breath, but more importantly, it implies our life force. If we choose to think about our breath being a force that carries with it our life and what we go through, it takes on a whole new meaning.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned about breathing through my recovery:

Breathing creates pause, helping us create space for healing in our bodies, minds and busy lives. There’s a reason that we take a deep breath when we need to pause. It’s a physical way of pulling the reins on ourselves when our thoughts or emotions threaten to run out of control. Likewise, healing (physical, emotional or otherwise) requires us to pause our busy lives — slow down, rest, reflect. Deep breathing helps remove the pressure of our hurried lives, reminding us that this pause isn’t an inconvenience to be rushed through, but a rich, revitalizing season of life. Continue reading

Yoga and essential oils: Alignyo blog posts recap

If you’ve ever used an essential oil during yoga, you know what a difference it makes. Perhaps the scent of lavender deepens your relaxation in savasana. Or, you begin your yoga practice by inhaling peppermint to energize you. But, did you know that essential oils can enhance your yoga practice even after “Namaste”?

Essential oils for yogaFrom the practical (like cleaning a yoga mat) to the spiritual, Aura Cacia aromatherapist and yogi Charlynn Avery describes many ways that essential oils are important to a serious yoga practice in her blog posts for Alignyo, an online yoga hub.

Catch up on Charlynn’s top yoga posts below, and be sure to subscribe or “like” Aura Cacia on Facebook for future posts!

The magic, art and science of stovetop distillation

rose mist

If you have access to fresh, pesticide-free roses in your garden, use those!

By Tom Havran

I’m as fascinated by how the essences of aromatic plants are extracted as I am by the essences themselves. Distillation is equal parts magic, art and science, and when I learned how to do it for myself at home with herbs and flowers from my own garden, a world of learning, possibility and mystery materialized in the steam before me. You can experience the mystery too with the following technique for a stove-top distillation of your own essential oil/hydrosol rose mist.

Although you would need to distill hundreds of pounds of plant material to get an appreciable amount of pure essential oil, this method will readily yield a few drops of essential oil floating upon a few ounces of water-based hydrosol in perfect, ready-to-use proportions. Continue reading

Homemade deodorant: The quest for a natural counter to body odor

homemade deodorant

By Charlynn Avery

For years, I have searched for the perfect natural deodorant. Perfect for me, that is. Not one to be overly concerned about sweat or perspiration (it is natural and healthy for the body to perspire, so why suppress it?), I wanted something that was a good counter for body odor that was also effective – meaning, something that would last longer than an hour or two.

Before I explored homemade deodorant, I tried many natural, store-bought deodorants, which have a bit of a bad rap. They aren’t as effective as the consumer wants them to be, often requiring reapplication throughout the day. In some cases, the ingredients in these deodorants aren’t as clean as we want them to be, which can also prove to be a challenge.

After a little bit of digging, I found a couple of recipes online that were quite simple to make in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipes to create a formula that incorporated some of the best aromatic effects of the chosen essential oils and to give them a stronger odor fighting punch. Once all the components were gathered, it took less than 15 minutes to create a crème deodorant that rivaled a natural version I paid a tidy sum for someone else to make for me. Never again with this recipe. I am happy to report it worked well – sometimes for a couple of days at a time, and didn’t leave permanent white streaks on my clothing.

What you need to make your own homemade deodorant:
Baking soda – A key ingredient in natural deodorants, baking soda can be used on its own for a simple deodorant as a paste made with water. It is a must-have in any natural recipe, as it is free of harsh chemicals and very effective at keeping odor at bay.

Powdered clay – Another great component used to fight odor, clay comes in a lot of varieties. I chose a bentonite clay for this recipe, but different powdered clays can be used. However, color rich clays are generally not recommended as they could cause discoloration the skin.

Coconut oil – Great for fighting odor and for moisture, coconut oil was the key binding ingredient for the dry powders.

Cornstarch or arrowroot powder – Either powder can be used to absorb moisture. This is great for keeping underarms dry.

Bergamot (bergaptene-free) – As one of the better essential oils for a deodorant formula, I chose bergaptene-free bergamot because it removes the concern of photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight) that the use of bergamot can bring. In choosing your own essential oils, make sure to use oils that are kinder to the skin as the underarm is a sensitive area. Suggestions include lavender, geranium, rose, sandalwood, tea tree, ylang ylang and Texas cedarwood.

Charlynn’s homemade deodorant recipe:

¼ c. baking soda

1/8 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1/8 c. powdered clay

5 tbsp. coconut oil

24 drops bergaptene-free bergamot

Blend all ingredients together and place in small container. If the recipe is too soft, you can refrigerate after mixing to help solidify. Use as a crème and apply to underarms with tips of fingers.  The application may feel a bit gritty – that is completely normal and is due to the consistency of the baking soda.

Have you tried making your own deodorant? Share your tips below!

Charlynn Avery Aura CaciaAbout the author: Charlynn Avery, aromatherapist and educator for Aura Cacia, is on a quest to change the way we look at health and healing in the U.S. She has spent her career practicing and teaching in the arena of holistic health and wellness as a licensed massage therapist, and currently holds additional certifications in Holistic Nutrition, Thai Massage and Life Coaching. Although she loves natural healing, she loves spending time in nature even more. An avid traveler both for work and pleasure, she can often be found getting her U.S. National Park Passport stamped or reading a good book in an airport.

Create your signature scent with homemade perfume

By Charlynn Avery

When it comes to blending perfumes, essential oils are a tried and true way to incorporate nature into your own signature scent. Homemade perfume is easy to make and isn’t as expensive as department store perfumes – plus, it can be made with ingredients that are friendly to our bodies and our planet.

homemade perfume

Blend patchouli, sweet orange and ylang ylang essential oils for a sweet, floral homemade perfume.

Once you understand the basics, experiment with making your own blend or try one of our recipes below.

Choosing your aroma

To make a great perfume, get to know your aromatic preferences.  Are you prone to florals?  Do you like earthy or musky aromas?  Are you drawn to light citrus aromas?  What smells the best to you and on you?  Once you figure out what you like, choose recipes that combine your favorite aromas. Continue reading

Scent Your Space Naturally with Homemade Air Fresheners

By Charlynn Avery

homemade air freshenerHave you ever considered what creates the aroma of that “new car scent” air freshener dangling from your rear view mirror?

Sure, it may help you ignore the reality that your car is not, in fact, new. But it won’t give you the benefits of pure essential oils. Below, I’ll give you ideas for how to make your own homemade air freshener that smells great, looks good and is perfectly natural.

Most commercial air fresheners come in one strength, which is often overwhelming. With a homemade air freshener, you can choose the strength of the aroma and refresh it as needed. So, as you create your own air freshener, you’ll use essential oils and your creativity to formulate an aroma that works best for you, in terms of both preference and aromatherapy benefits. You control the naturalness as well as the potency of the resulting air freshener.

Continue reading

27 Essential Oils to Purify Air Naturally

By Tom Havran
We spend a lot of time indoors during the winter months. All those weeks spent huddling from the cold in our sealed homes and offices aren’t that different from being trapped in the recycled air of an airplane cabin. Think of all that exhaled air you’re re-breathing – the need to purify, cleanse and refresh the atmosphere around you becomes critical. Fortunately, you can do so easily with essential oils.

First, arm yourself with pure Aura Cacia essential oils. Top choices for essential oils with air-purifying or cleansing benefits include:

27 Essential Oils to Purify Air Naturally

Continue reading

The Magical Scent of the Holidays

By Tom Havran
It’s a wonder that I don’t equate the scent of a live Christmas tree with the smell of chaos, frustration and desperation rather than holiday cheer. I grew up in a nine-member Iowa farm family, and a Christmas tree wasn’t necessary to our livelihood; if anything, the cost and trouble associated with it was a burden for our working family to endure.

Our Christmas tree in one of its better years.

Our Christmas tree in one of its better years.

Some years, we splurged and made a trip to a garden center – where I hurriedly picked out a tree and dragged it into the car headlights for illumination. Two quick honks from my family waiting in the car meant ‘yes’ while one long, dismal honk meant ‘keep looking’. Other years, we’d resort to culling a scruffy, prickly red cedar from a ditch or fence row on the farm. Continue reading

Creating a Sustainable Future for Sandalwood

By Tim Blakley, Aura Cacia aromatherapist/educator


Tim visiting Aura Cacia’s sandalwood supplier in Australia

I recently attended the International Sandalwood Synopsis in Honolulu to discuss the future of one of my favorite oils – sandalwood. This was the first conference on sandalwood in over 20 years.

The story behind the conference began about 18 months ago, when someone approached me at a trade show with a bottle of sandalwood essential oil made from Hawaiian sandalwood. I was a bit surprised, as Hawaii has a brutal history regarding sandalwood (massive exploitation between 1810 and 1830 resulted in a near elimination of the species in all but the most remote parts of the islands), and I had no idea anyone was harvesting it today. With the supplier’s permission, I visited the land where the wood was being harvested. Continue reading

Aura Cacia Introduces Essential Solutions™ Mists for Everyday Use

Need to clear the air around you in hopes of some calm and relaxation? Now you can reach for one of Aura Cacia’s new Essential Solutions™ mists. We took our cue from the popularity of our bottled Essential Solutions™ and packaged them in a convenient two-ounce reusable aluminum bottle with mist dispenser. It’s also perfect for travel, since the size is TSA approved.

Now you can use them for room or body spray, and each unique essential oil blend offers something different:

Chill Pill: a blend of calming lavender, refreshing citrus and balancing patchouli to diffuse anger, quiet arguments and create harmony
Cool Hottie: a blend of calming lavender, cooling peppermint and the powerfully balancing vitex to cool down and take the edge off an agitated state
First Response: a blend of cleansing tea tree, camphorous eucalyptus and freshening citrus to purify surfaces and the atmosphere around you
Panic Button: a blend of relaxing lavender, centering neroli and focusing petitgrain to relax, calm fears and help keep a level head
Pep Talk: a blend of spicy cardamom, invigorating peppermint and energizing citrus to clear the cobwebs, inspire decision making and dissipate the doldrums.

“We’re excited to introduce this unique line of essential oil mists. The fun product names and small packaging make it easy for anyone to experience the truly therapeutic aromatherapy benefits of pure essential oils, whenever they need it most,” says Jane Merten, Aura Cacia’s Senior Brand Manager.

The five new Essential Solutions mists complement the best-selling Pillow Potion mist.

The mists can be purchased directly from Aura Cacia or through retailers nationwide. Each mist has a suggested retail price of $7.99. Right now they’re 25% off, too – through March.

Let us know which one’s your favorite – and how you use it.