There is nothing quite like the sheer amount of time we now spend indoors to make us think of how our spaces can affect our energy. The light through our window can lift our mood. A view can bring us a sense of calm or conversely energise us. We can find joy through the objects we fill our home with. And we all know the effects of mess and clutter on our mental capacity. But what about scent? As equally as objects can alter our mood so too can smells. The power of scent can transform our energy and transport us to another time and place.
We spoke to Alanna Quin of The Ayu on the power of scents and how to incorporate them into our homes, beauty rituals and wellness routines.
How does scent affect our bodies?
Our sense of smell is one of the most powerful senses we possess and the merest hint of something familiar can trigger a special memory or beautiful moment in our lives. There’s a direct link in our brains between memory and smell. The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is really closely associated with memory. When it comes to scent and associated emotion, people can be influenced and not even realise it.
Does scent have any effect on our minds and emotions?
Scent is so incredibly powerful to the human body and can affect our mood, spark memories and even improve our cognition. It really has a beautiful way of transporting us through time and place and can unlock some of the best moments of your life. Smells are first processed through the olfactory bulb, which has a direct connection to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory. Visual, auditory and tactile information doesn’t pass through these areas. Which is why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotion and memory. A complex emotion and memory can be triggered by a simple, sensory cue. Such as the smell of jasmine on a warm spring afternoon, which can conjure memories of summer on its way.
How can we incorporate scent as part of a wellness routine?
Scent can be incorporated into so much of your daily wellness routine. Incense has been used for thousands of years in ceremonies and rituals, especially in meditation practices. The simple act of lighting incense can help ground during your morning meditation or movement practices such as yoga. Using a gently heated scented body oil for daily self massage (Abhyanga) has a multitude of benefits for your body and general wellbeing. Including nourishing the skin, improving sleep patterns and alleviating anxiety.
Anointing your body with perfume oil can also help to elevate your mood instantly. Apply a few drops of perfume oil to your pressure points for maximum benefits. As scent is activated by body heat, so dab a little on the wrists, behind the ears, at the nape of neck and behind the knees. Lighting a candle at night scents a space and immediately sets a mood with a soft glow and scent permeating. This can be the perfect way to help unwind with any nightly grounding rituals you might have, whether it's taking a bath or reading a good book.
The power of scent is endless. Are there specific scents that work to influence specific feelings?
Most definitely. From an Ayurvedic perspective a Vata-dominant energy should work with scents that are warming, focusing, calming and grounding. Such as geranium, lavender, cinnamon, amber or rose. Pitta types should opt for those that are cooling, sweet and soothing like sandalwood, gardenia, jasmine and rose. Those with an excess of Kapha will be most suited to warming, light and stimulating scents such as sage, eucalyptus and citruses including lemongrass, bitter orange and bergamot.
When sourcing scents/ ingredients is there anything you look for?
All of our Ayurvedic knowledge is poured into the creation of Ayu. Which also includes choosing notes specifically for their grounding and uplifting qualities. The psychology of scent is very important in Ayurveda, with a multitude of flowers and plants being used for many centuries for different healing purposes. Discovering companies with a strong ethical backbone excites us. And we’ve just started working with an ethical Australian harvester of Indian sandalwood. We’re as much about supporting companies with a rich history and story as we are about the actual scents.