Essential Oil Guide: 21 Drops Review


I am always on the hunt for new essential oil products and brands. Essential oils are a fantastic way to naturally improve our well-being on a mental, emotional, and physical level. 

I most recently discovered 21 Drops, and was immediately intrigued. When asked what set them apart from other essential oil companies, their response was what sealed the deal! 
  1. All of the essential oils used in our blends are therapeutic-grade, 100% natural, sourced from artisan distillers, organic or wild-crafted, and GC-MS tested to ensure their upmost purity and effectiveness.
  2. We focused on the molecular chemistry, so you can focus on the physical. Our remedies are pre-blended to treat some of the most common conditions, allowing you more time to spend time with your partner or try that new yoga class.
  3. All of our essential oils are safely diluted in 100% jojoba carrier oil.
  4. Our bright, colorful rollerball packaging makes our blends easy to toss into a purse, place aside your bed or at your desk at work. Basically, they're way more fun and simple to use.  
What's not to love? Unable to narrow it down to just one oil (how can you choose between 21 amazing blends?), the wonderful folks over at 21 Drops were kind enough to send me over the Let's Celebrate Trio to review, and I am in love!

The Let's Celebrate kit includes three 3ml oil blends: Invigorate, Passion, and De-Stress. Each blend is formulated specifically for inhalation and topical application, and every one comes with a fantastic affirmation!

Invigorate (#01) is a combination of black pepper (enlivens & motivates), cedarwood (maximizes endurance), juniper (energizes & invigorates), and rosemary (stimulates the mind). The affirmation that comes with this oil is "I initiate. I act. I deliver." This has been my go-to oil for early mornings and mid-afternoon for when I need a pick-me-up! Caffeine never seems to agree with me (if you ever see me with super shaky hands and looking a little grey, its likely the barista accidentally switched my decaf for something higher octane), so coffee is usually too strong for the usual slow-moving moments. However, one whiff of this blend is enough to get me moving, and once I put a little on my wrists, I am getting things done! I've started keeping this one on my desk so that whenever I feel myself loosing steam, I can have it within reach so I can get back in action! 

Passion (#06) is a combination of cardamom (enlivens & refreshes), jasmine (diminishes fears & inhibitions, rose (invites feelings of love), and sandalwood encourages self-acceptance. The affirmation that comes with the blend is "I am open. I am playful. I am inspired." If sunshine came in the form of an essential oil, this would be it. When wearing Passion, I feel radiant and goddess-like. The floral aspects make it a great date night scent, but I love wearing it anytime I want to feel sunshine-y and special!

De-stress (#11) is a combination of frankincense (quiets the mind), German chamomile (reduces tension), lavender (reduces anxiety), and ylang ylang (helps ease panic attacks). The affirmation is "I accept. I bend. I release." This oil is my new signature scent, hands down. I usually have an affinity for similar blends (as an old flame once proclaimed: "You always smell like tea... It is a good thing, I swear!"), but 21 Drops De-Stress takes the cake. Every time I put on this essential oil, I can feel all of the tension in my body melt away, and I am left relaxed and smiling. 



After the success of these three blends, I cannot wait to try their others! The next ones I have my eye on are #03 Strength, #07 Equalize, #12 Uplift, and #17 Digest, not to mention getting bigger sizes of what I already have!

Have you tried 21 Drops yet? Check them out on their website, and enjoy!

For The Love of Lavender


Looking around my home, you will notice a common theme... lavender hand soap, lavender bubble bath, lavender room spray, lavender candles, even lavender tea! Needless to say, I am absolutely in love with lavender!

Lavandula angustifolia, aka lavender, is known for its powerful relaxing qualities. Good for both the body and the mind, it should be staple in every household. I have always loved the variety of ways you can use it, and its positive effect on my life. In case you are in need of some inspiration, I compiled a quick list on how to add lavender into your life!

Drink a cup of lavender tea each evening, or whenever you are overwhelmed with stress. If you can, get the highest quality of loose lavender buds, brew it in a tea infuser like this one, add a tiny smidge of honey (if you must), and enjoy it about 20-40 minutes before bedtime. If you're like me, you might fall asleep before you even finish your cup!

Soak in a hot bath with a couple cups of epsom salts and a few drops of lavender essential oil. When my body feels tense, soaking in a lavender bath for at least 20 minutes releases any tension I have, softens the skin, and inhaling the lavender aroma calms my mind as well. When I am done soaking, the lavender scent stays with me long after I dry off.

In the summer, combine a drop of lavender oil with coconut oil, and apply it to sunburns or insect bites. This calms the skin and relieves itching, therefore allowing the skin a better chance to heal.

When doing laundry, insert a satchel of lavender buds to the dryer to result in yummy smelling clothing and sheets. 

Lavender plants are beautiful, smell wonderful, and are pretty hardy, so plant a few bushes in your garden so you always have access to some!

Use an essential oil diffuser to diffuse lavender into your bedroom at night, or to create a relaxing atmosphere in an office or treatment room. 

Put a sprig of dried lavender or a satchel of dried lavender buds in your car to freshen it up instead of using chemical-based air-fresheners.

Put a drop of lavender mixed with a carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba) on the bottom of your feet at night for a deep, restful night's sleep.

I rotate in a coconut oil/lavender oil combination into my skincare routine a few times a week to give my face a break from salicylic acid treatments, while still fighting off acne and clogged pores. I moisturize my face, then use the mixture for the rest of my body as well!

When sick, inhaling the steam of lavender can help fight of bacteria and infections due to its antibiotic and expectorant properties. If you are feeling under the weather and stuffy, fill a bowl full of hot water, add a drop of lavender essential oil, and lean over the bowl with a towel over your head and the bowl (trapping in the steam). Be careful the water is not too hot, as to not burn your face with the steam. 

If you are prone to depression, anxiety, or constant stress, keeping a vial of lavender essential oil nearby can be helpful. When I feel like my mental health could use a tune up, either wearing lavender or just smelling it seems to be the emotional boost I need. (Obviously, if your need of a "mental health tuneup" is severe, consult a professional.) Put a drop or two in your hands, cup them to your face, and breathe in slowly and deeply. 


Well, now that lavender is on my brain, I'm going to go put the kettle on to make a cup of tea!

Do you love lavender as well? What is your favorite use for it?

Bathtub Meditation: Scrub Off Negativity


"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."
Sylvia Plath

Over the past year, I have experienced a lot of "life" (career changes, moving, medical emergencies, family death, etc.), and it was easy to find myself occasionally overwhelmed with stress.

Have you ever noticed how when you have a lot weighing on you emotionally, your body feels physically weighed down as well? It almost feels as if you are wearing a heavy coat of negativity. Not so fun...

When you are stressed, it can be hard to carve out time to just sit down and meditate. Therefore, I have found a quick solution that lets you (literally) scrub off some of those heavy thoughts: shower-time or bath-time meditation!

Since it is something that everyone does everyday (give or take), it can be a great way to squeeze in a little mental tuneup. Many times, people rush through washing up on autopilot: shampoo, soap, scrub, shave, done. This basic meditation allows you to bring a little mindfulness to your day, and do a little good for your emotional self as well. Depending on whether you prefer showers or baths, you can chose between the two meditations.

If you are showering: As you stand under the stream of water, envision it washing away all of your negative thoughts, as if they were mud stuck to your skin. Some emotions might take a little extra scrubbing, but as you lather up, release all of your fear, anger, and regret so that it may go swirling down the drain.

If you are soaking in the tub: Allow all of your muscles to sink into the hot water. Using a loofa or wash cloth, massage your skin from head to toe, visualizing any negativity within being released into the water. Once you feel truely relaxed and surrendered, unplug the drain and send the water that now carries all that detrimental energy away.

By the time I dry off after a shower or tub meditation, I always feel a lot better, both inside and out!

I always like bringing a cup of yummy tea in the tub with me as well!
I love to use natural bath and shower products, such as Epsom salts, essential oils, Jason shower gel, and my favorite homemade sugar scrub. What are your favorite natural products? Have you ever meditated in the tub before?

Coloring Meditation


"Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet."
Paul Klee

I have always been a doodler. As a kid, I loved to color. In school, the corners of my notes always held little drawings or patterns. My journals are covered in a vast array of sketches and designs. It always seemed like a great way to settle an anxious mind and help me let go of stress.

Lately, there has been a trend encouraging both young and old alike to sit down and color! Its likely that your last experience coloring was as a child, but research shows that coloring has a similar effect on the mind that meditation does. It quiets the mind, relieves stress, and lowers anxiety.

Some days, I enjoy relaxing with a cup of tea and a few pages to color in. Other times, I love having a bunch of blank sheets available for friends to come gather around the table and get to coloring with me! Can you say COLORING PARTY? Whoo-hoo!

Remember: there is no wrong way to color! Find a quieter time, possibly with some relaxing music, and let it flow! Inside the lines or out, let intuitive and creative self take over! Many people like to color mandalas, whose sacred geometry patterns can be very zen and relaxing. However, any coloring will work! Not surprisingly, adult coloring books are becoming incredibly popular, and you can find a large variety of beautiful designs and themes. Check out your local book store for a few fun coloring books, or look online for books and printables!

Take advantage of these short, winter days, and instead of reaching for the remote, reach for a colored pencil!

Have you jumped on the meditative coloring train? What are your favorite materials to use?

Sleep Better with Bedtime Yoga


I am a big believer in nighttime yoga. I fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and feel more relaxed the next morning. My only issue? I get so relaxed afterwards that the journey from my yoga mat to the bed seems a million miles away! My solution? Yoga in bed! Once you are done, close your eyes and drift off... perfect!

Unlike the typical, fast-paced yoga class you may have attended at your yoga studio or gym, this practice is very yin based: slow, relaxing, and deep. Spend a little while in each pose to enjoy all of the lovely benefits.

This is a short and sweet version of my nightly routine... aka: no excuses not to do it! Some nights I spend more time and add in additional poses, but at the very least, I do this routine nightly to release any stress and tension (and recommend you do the same).


Begin by sitting cross legged in the center of your bed. With your back straight, center yourself by focusing on your breath. Hands can either rest on your knees or held in front of your chest in prayer. Using Ujjayi breathing (yoga breathing where your breath sounds similar to ocean waves), take the first few moments of your practice to let go of the day's events and stress.


Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand behind your back. Exhale while gently twist your torso to the left, and allow your gaze to follow. Breathe in deeply and allow the breath to fill the empty space being created by your stretch. Slowly release, and repeat on the right side.


Turn to face a wall (or your headboard). Laying flat on your back, scoot your butt a few inches away from the wall, and place your legs straight up against it. Relax into the pose, and make sure not to lock your knees. If the stretch is too much, back away slightly from the wall. Remember to breathe in deeply, and feel the breath filling your belly as you sink heavier into the bed.  Remain here for a full minute or two.

Next, lie on your back with your knees bent. With an exhale, bend both legs back towards your belly. Inhale and grip the outsides of your feet with your hands. Bring your knees towards your armpits by opening your knees slightly wider than your torso. Make sure your ankles are stacked over your knees so your shins are perpendicular with the bed. Breathe deeply, and slowly pull your hands down to increase the stretch to a point you feel comfortable with.


When you are ready, return to laying flat on your back with your arms and legs stretched out slightly away from your body. The goal is total relaxation, so if need be, place a pillow to support under your legs. Remain here for at least five minutes. If you're like me, however, you will snoring pretty quickly!

Enjoy the restful sleep, and namaste!

Center Yourself with Alternate Nostril Breathing


For thousands of years, yogis have believed in the power of breath. To this day, yoga instructors even go as far as to say that if you lose track of your breathing during your yoga practice, you basically void the benefits of your asanas. Long story short: breathing is a crucial part of yoga!

Pranayama, or yoga breathing, makes you more connected to your breath. Although it is important to practice during your yoga practice, it can be beneficial to practice before meditation, right before you go to bed, right before you wake up, or when you just need to recharge. I have found that returning to my yoga breath can really help when I am stressed and need to reset my brain, like when I am hanging off of a mountain on a hard rock climbing route.

A technique that I love and have been using everyday is alternate nostril breathing (also known as Anulom Vilom). It is a great beginning pranayama practice, and can be done by everybody!

Alternate nostril breathing can be an extremely therapeutic and calming ritual. It cleanses your lungs and your mind, calms your emotions and your nervous system, encourages the flow of prana (energy), and can relax a restless brain and body. Doesn't that sound wonderful? Lets get to it!

Begin by getting into a comfortable seated position on your yoga mat. Sit up straight, with your neck, back, and tailbone stacked. Using your right hand, place your pointer and middle finger on your third eye (in the middle of your forehead just above your eyebrows). Take a few relaxed breaths until you feel centered and ready to begin.

Using your thumb, close off your right nostril. Slowly breathe in through your left nostril for a count of four. Hold breathe for a count of four.

Close off left nostril with your ring finger, and release your right nostril. Slowly breathe out for a count of four. Inhale though the right nostril for a count of four. Hold for four, then release through your left side as before. Repeat a few rounds of this alternate breathing and feel how your body responds to this gentle and nourishing practice.

Remember:
Never be forceful with your pranayama practice. If holding four counts is too much, try shorter increments until you can work your way up to it.
Health conditions, such as high blood pressure, might mean that you shouldn't participate or hold your breath. (Translation: Talk to your doctor.)
If possible, try to practice on an empty stomach or if has been a few hours since eating.

Do you practice pranayama? How do you use yoga breathing techniques in your everyday life?

Get Incredibly Smooth Skin with Homemade Natural Sugar Scrub


Next time you are at the store, pick up a tub of body scrub and check out the ingredients. I'll give you a preview: "chemical, chemical, chemical, artificial fragrance, chemical, chemical". Sounds like something you want to use on your body, right? Not!

There are some fantastic products on the market that are all-natural alternatives to chemical-filled body scrubs, but they can be pricey! So what is a girl to do?

Motivated both by my desire for an inexpensive body scrub and my weekend laziness keeping me from leaving the house, I whipped up a recipe for a scrub that you can easily make with ingredients you already have in your pantry! The result is a super cheap, delicious smelling, natural body scrub that leaves your skin silky and smooth!


Ingredients:
1 cup of cane sugar
1 cup of oil (coconut oil, light olive oil, and avocado oil all work great)
10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil

Mix the sugar and oil well, add your essential oils, and then mix a little more! Store in a glass container with a tight seal, and you're done! To use it, massage into wet skin and then rinse off. (Be careful as the oils can make your bathtub slippery, so make sure to wipe down the tub when you are done so the next person doesn't go head over heels!)

For my scrub, I used extra virgin olive oil and a blend of ylang ylang and lavender oil. As soon as I was done, I was so excited that I jumped immediately in the tub to use it! I have a feeling this batch won't last me very long with how much I love it, so I'm looking forward to trying other combinations of oils. I might try mixing in some coconut sugar in addition to the cane sugar as well!

Let me know what you think! What is your favorite combination of oils?


Why You Should Have a Himalayan Salt Lamp

I love how my lamp casts a wonderfully comforting light across my cozy bed.
By now, chances are you have come across a Himalayan salt lamp. Typically glowing with a warm gorgeous orange color (although they can be found also in white, pink, orange, and red), these lamps have been popping up in natural health stores, crystal shops, interior design shops, even your everyday department stores. They can be found in a variety of shapes, ranging from a natural rough shape, to pyramids, spheres, and bowls. So what is the big deal about these lamps?

In addition to their pretty color, they also have a ton of health benefits! They can reduce a multitude of air pollutants, boost serotonin levels (which can help regulate sleep), increase the flow of positive chi in your home, increase your immune system, improve mental alertness, and improve your overall well being. A lamp that is cute and healthy? Sign me up!
 
With claims like this, it makes you wonder:  how does a Himalayan salt lamp actually work?

Firstly, the bulb warms the lamp from within, and the warmth attracts the moisture in the air. Then, as the moisture evaporates, they emit negative ions that purify the air, which allows you to breathe easier and more freely.

Which brings up a second question: what in the world are negative ions?

According to WebMD:
Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy,” says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research and director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C.
Additionally:
They also may protect against germs in the air, resulting in decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat irritation.

My yoga teacher has Himalayan salt lamps throughout her entire house, and along with looking absolutely beautiful, I have noticed how fresh her house always feels. Despite the fact that she has three huge furry dogs and two cuddly cats, I find that I don't have my usual pet dander issues in her home, which can also be a helpful benefit of having salt lamps in your home.

For best results, leave your lamp on all the time (with a wattage of 4 to 15 depending on the lamp). Plus, deciding what size or how many lamps you need for optimal results is determined by the size of your space. Translation: the bigger the space, the more you need (either in a larger lamp size or by placing multiple throughout the room). For example, a small 5-7 pound lamp would do best in a small 10x10 square foot room, whereas a large 20x20 square foot room would benefit from a 30-40 pound lamp.

Just a few of the numerous benefits of owning a Himalayan Salt Lamp.
A word of caution: beware of replicas or low quality lamps, as they will obviously not have the same benefits. Also, although it is salt, your lamp was not processed the same as edible salt, so don't chip off a hunk if you are making dinner! (Himalayan comes in food safe forms, such as ground or cubes, and is much healthier for you than table salt.)

After coveting Himalayan salt lamps for a while, I am now the proud owner of one and I have to admit, it is a slippery slope! Right now I have one in my bedroom, but I dream of one day covering my whole house with a variety of shapes and sizes! The orange glow from the lamp casts a warm and inviting light throughout the room, which invokes an incredible feeling of peace and relaxation.

Do you have a Himalayan salt lamp yet?