Monday, January 26, 2015

Essential Oils: Lemon

I fully admit I'm absolutely fascinated with my new selection of oils right now.  So excited in fact, I have to post about it.  Because a) that's what people do and b) it kinda comes down to this:  you bought the what?

Find ways to USE them!

Speaking for myself, I'm finding the cleaning route to be the easiest avenue to incorporating or integrating the use of oils into my life.  And, having been bit by the spring cleaning bug, it's a great place to start.

Let's discuss your kitchen (or bathroom, or mud room) floor.  All are (usually) high traffic areas, maybe pets or kids leaving kibble or crumbs, outside dust and dirt being tracked in - unavoidable even if you leave your shoes in a singular location.  Kitchen has the added disadvantage of cooking oils, grease, and steam venting around the room.  Even with a stove hood, it's unavoidable.  Food prep - it's not just meat that can be contaminated! Things miss the garbage can and might not get found.

Bathrooms are, well, bathrooms.   Shared sinks and showers.  I use lavender and tea tree in the bathroom which I'll chat about later, but lemon would also work well, especially if you don't care for the smell of tea tree.   A couple drops of lemon added to the washer when washing your shower curtain can help purify and deodorize. I have a high calcium content in my well water so I use 1/4 cup detergent, 1/2 cup vinegar and 5ish drops of lemon oil.   

Today is about LEMON!   I love lemon and I don't know why I didn't seek out this delightful oil earlier.  OMGosh, talk about spring cleaning in January!  Yes, actually, LET'S talk about spring cleaning in January.

It started with my kitchen floor:
  • 1 gal of HOT water
  • 1 cup white vinegar (okay, so I might have used a bit more) 
  • small squirt of dishsoap (I use Seventh Generation, free and clear)  No more than 1-2 teaspoons!
  • 10-20 drops of Lemon essential oil

Then I pulled out my stove and fridge to clean underneath, something I do at least 2x a year, and I found this gigantic dust bunny:


What I had been neglecting to do was pull the grate off the front of my refrigerator and vacuum underneath.  Folks, pull out the fridge and stove if possible and run a vacuum and mop around.   Especially if you have pets.  You will be shocked and appalled at what makes its way under appliances, things that hold dust, mildew, and mold.   Fortunately, nothing like that crawled out from under the stove.

Moving on to the counters, stainless steel stove front, front of fridge (not stainless):
1 regular sized squirt bottle
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar (I admit, I use more)
10 drops  Lemon essential oil

Squirt, let stand a couple minutes, come back and wipe down. Have stubborn grease spots?  Use lemon oil directly on spots and rub in, then come back and wipe down with squirt bottle mix.  

Now the big question - when was the last time you wiped down the TOP of your fridge?  Uh huh, I thought so.  Up you go!  Scrub! Scrub! 

A NOTE OF CAUTION - in case of skin sensitivities, whether you know you have them or not, I strongly urge you to please invest in a couple pairs of dish washing gloves and protect your hands!  Even though vinegar and essential oils are "natural",  you could still have a reaction. Combined with hot water, bare hands could take a beating.

Wooden cutting boards - drop oil directly on and rub in.  Let stand upright in the sink to absorb the oil - you don't want to inadvertently leave an oil stain somewhere unwanted.  Let stand 12-24 hours or however long is possible.  Right before a trip is a great time to do cutting boards.

Pet towels - same with shower curtain liner.  Add several drops to the wash cycle to help deodorize and cleanse those pet towels.   1/4 cup detergent, 1/2 cup vinegar and 3-5ish drops of lemon oil.   

And then there is my favorite way to take Lemon - in a glass of water.  I love, love, love lemon water - hot or cold.  I don't always have a fresh lemon on hand, like when traveling, so having a small bottle along is wonderful.  Just a couple drops can make a world of difference.  I find a cold glass refreshing, a hot cuppa soothing.  I can perk up a glass of fresh brewed ice tea because sometimes, fresh brewed doesn't mean the same thing across the county.   

I know there are many more ways to use Lemon, but this is how I've started.  If you feel so inclined, please take a moment and leave a note on how you are using lemon essential oil in your life.


**And, I'll stick in the disclaimer - These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Essential Oils and Home Use

I have taken the plunge into the world of quality essential oils.  Back in 2007 I made the switch to cleaning with more "natural" products:  baking soda, vinegar, essential oils, etc.  You can read my post on it How I Learned To Clean My House, Part I  and How I Learned to Clean My House, Part II.

Seven years later, I'm still cleaning with vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.  The only thing that didn't work/hasn't worked for me was the homemade toilet bowl cleaner, and I strongly suspect it's due to the calcium and mineral content in our well water.  I can cope with buying store bought for that.

Recently I have taken the next step in DIY cleaning products and bought therapeutic grade essential oils.  I have been researching several brands, which due to new FDA regulations it seems I can't even mention here. 

I've talked to two separate essential oil representatives from one company (one who I liked, one who I didn't), I've talked to a soap maker, and fellow yogis at yoga workshops.  I received a free 5ml bottle of  Basil at the  Minneapolis YogaFit Mind Body Conference last June, and because I'm not one to waste, I've been using it.

So why the upgrade?  Because I want to start using oils on more than my kitchen floor and in my bathroom.  If I'm going to be squirting stuff on my counters or cutting boards, and putting oils on myself (or my Husband) and breathing them in, I want to make sure they don't have the chemicals I'm trying to avoid in conventional store bought products.   

These are my observations to date:
Basil - This was my introduction to essential oils.  I massaged it on my skin to lessen stress. 

Melaleuca (Tea Tree) - I still use this one for cleaning.  I add numerous drops to my homemade soft scrub as a cleansing agent (be sure to let mixture sit on surface for a couple minutes to do it's thing!).  I also keep a squirt bottle of water and oil as a natural bathroom air freshener spray.  For, you know, "those" moments.  No chemical air freshener concoction in my bathroom - phew! 

Lavender - Ditto Tea Tree above.  I used this in my first DIY diffuser with a vase of water and rattan sticks, but it wasn't the best system and eventually, my sticks got moldy.  Bleh.  With my Petal Diffuser I can freshen any room with tap water and a couple drops of lavender.  Not that I'm saying my puppies can be, ah, fragrant... (skunks, anyone?)

And lavender may promote a more restful sleep - something I could use more of! 

Lemon - reading the literature on quality lemon oil, it sounds like this is perhaps one of the most versatile of the single blend oils.  I'm embarrassed to say, I haven't even scratched the surface with what I can use this one for.  So far I've used it to wash the kitchen floor as a purifying agent, de-greaser, and deodorizer.  I did NOT get the usual "ugh, lemon pledge!" reaction.  My kitchen smelled bright and spring-like!  Yay!  (I won't tell you about the grossness I pulled out from under my fridge in my spurt of spring cleaning, but even there got a good cleansing.)   I look forward to to using this one more.

Respiratory Blend - this oil I've been putting in my bedside diffuser (the one I bought).  First time I put in too many drops by accident and it was a bit overwhelming.  But the combination of humidity and the blend has become a nighttime favorite.  I'm waiting to see if this helps the Husband sinus's which do suffer during the dry winter months.  This blend is also touted as providing more restful sleep, which is something I need, as I mentioned above. 

Protective Blend -  my chosen company's blend of orange, cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  Mmm!  Yummy!  I use this one on my hands as a purifying agent and on my feet especially after any gym visit.  Currently I'm trying it mixed with a bit of water for gym use, but I'm thinking I'm going to go "straight" when this mixture is finished.   I have a little bottle I carry with me that I can shake a few drops out for a quick "purify".  My palms smell sooo good!  This will come with me for any airline travel this year.

I'm still experimenting with Frankincense, Oregano, Peppermint, and Muscle Rub and Digestive Blend (both blends).  I'm not a fan of Peppermint, but everyone seems to rave about how fantastic it is.  Digestive Blend could be handy for traveling, especially to Mexico.  Muscle Rub is like a popular stinky goo  - it provides a cooling, comforting massage.  I know it was a hot seller at the YogaFit Conference.  Lol and duh!  I should be using this one after TRX and Kettlebells on Fridays!  Need to toss it into the gym bag, I bet this would be awesome after a sauna. 

I'm super excited about this new step and direction.  With a handful of single oils and a couple of blends, I can see so much application in household application and my personal wellness.

**And, I'll stick in the disclaimer - These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Site under Construction

Hm. I somehow blew out a bunch of links and pictures.  Please be patient while I put things back together. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

Time time time...

...keeps on slippin' into the future. 

On the start of this new year, I'd like to take a moment to discuss time.  Class time, to be more precise.  Instructor starting, conducting, and ending class in a timely fashion to be exact.  I've noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in the classes I've been attending of late (as a student), that they go over the allotted time, which as a student/instructor, is a HUGE peeve of mine.

It is a student's responsibility to arrive in a timely fashion; to change, make last bathroom run, get water, set out mat and be ready for the class to begin.  I will be the first to acknowledge that life does get in the way sometimes - a last minute phone call at work, traffic, family, whatever.  And various studios handle tardiness in different ways from locking the door to late-comers to letting someone slip in no matter how tardy.

However, it is solely the instructors responsibility to not only start class on time, but to end in the same.  Not 5 or 10 minutes after. You are doing your students a huge disfavor by only giving them a 1 minute or less savasana or deep relaxation.  You are doing your students a huge disfavor by squeezing in "just one more" warrior II/reverse warrior/extended side angle vinyasa flow sequence when, in fact, you should be in "cool down" mode - should have been in cool down mode 10 minutes ago. Nobody likes being told to go to the floor for deep relaxation with heart thudding away. 

So let's work through this backwards.  Class is one hour.  For example purposes let's use a 12pm class.  And we'll keep things to full minutes for this example.  I'm also assuming a vinyasa flow class, but the same principles apply for any class.

Class Ends at 1pm.  
You will need 1 minute to move people into stillness, and 1 minute to take them out.  This leaves 3 minutes for deep relaxation.  IF you can do a full 5 minute savasana, or more, fantastic!  By all means incorporate that, as long as you end on time and your clients can be walking out the door on the hour (or hour and a half mark).

12:55pm - People should be on their backs, moving into deep relaxation.

Start facilitating a cool down of some sort - moving from standing to the floor.  If boat is in the sequence, start with boat and move toward the calmer poses.  You can reasonably do about three poses, left side/right side, in 10 minutes. 

12:45 - Move toward floor stretches and poses that will slow the heart rate down.  Try not to continue to do poses that keep heart rate elevated.  This is a great opportunity for a balance pose, hip openers, seated forward folds, bound angle, twists, cat/cow, etc.  A good use of less poses held longer

12:15-12:45pm  Your sequence of choice for the day.

12:05-12:15pm  Your warm-ups of choice.

12:00-12:05pm  Greeting, grounding and centering.

So, flipping that around, and using a basic class as an example - keeping in mind here, we are focusing on ending.  And times are approximate.   

12:00-12:05p - Greeting, grounding and centering.
12:05-12:15p - Warm-ups of choice
12:15-12:45p - Sequence of choice
12:45p-12:55p - Moving toward the floor.  Posterior should be in close contact with the ground shortly after 12:45p, if not full contact.
12:55p - Moving toward stillness/savasana
3 minutes of stillness/savasana
12:59p - Closing salutations, thank-yous and class is out the door! 

If you need more time for closing chanting, pranayama, or a brief meditation, shorten the sequence aspect to 20 or 25 minutes.  

Reminder, end of class is not the time to be making announcements.  Keep those at the beginning of class.  End of class people are in their own personal bliss-world, thinking ahead to next task/errand/phone call and not mentally there for further input. 

So, to conclude, please be cognizant of your timing.  This small courtesy can go a long way and facilitate not only a better class, but better relations between you and your students.