When I started planning my restorative workshops for November and December, I knew that I wanted to add a few little touches to make the whole experience as relaxing and special as possible. Back a few months ago in the (slightly) balmier Irish summer, I took myself off with a basket and a pair of scissors to my parents house, and helped myself to a generous supply of lovely lavender that they have growing in their garden. As well as having a beautiful scent, lavender is known for the relaxing effect it has on the mind and the body – a small sniff of this gorgeous plant produces a calming and sedative state and some research even suggests that it slows the activity of the nervous system. Essential lavender oil also has some really handy medicinal properties, you can have a look at some of them here: www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7769/13-uses-for-lavender-oil-the-only-essential-oil-youll-need. Pretty impressive for a little plant you can grow in your back garden!
Rather than attempting to make my own essential oil and potentially destroying the whole lot, I took the safer and slightly lazier approach and let bunches of lavender loiter around the house for a few days while it dried. I then picked off the dried flowers and gathered them in airtight jars to contain their lovely perfume. I remembered attending a yoga retreat a few years ago where they used eye pillows during the savasana, and it made the whole experience even more relaxing and so I thought it would be a perfect addition to my own workshops. It seems to have gone down really well so far (judging by a few snores in the room towards the end of the class!), and quite a few people attending the workshops have been really surprised when I told them I made the eye-pillows myself and how easy they were to do. I've attached the instructions on how to make them below and think they could be a perfect little christmas gift for someone who needs a little bit of TLC or relaxation in their lives (who doesn't?!) They can easily be made without a machine … although if you’re making quite a few like I was I’d definitely recommend sourcing one or you might go slightly mad hand stitching them all! I mixed the lavender with some dried camomile for a bit of an extra relaxation/ snooziness effect!
A quick tip if you want to make many eye pillows and are trying to source a large amount of plain cotton type material – I often buy a plain bed sheet which is much cheaper than buying cotton by the metre. I got a lovely mint green one in Penneys to make these ones for €7 and it has made 30 eye pillows so far … and counting! Also Tiger stocks lots of herbs which are really affordable, I bought a big bag of dried camomile which I mixed with the lavender for €3.
Make Your Own Lavender Eye Pillow
For the pillow
1/2 metre of fabric (cotton or a cotton mix)
For the filling
1/2 cup dried beans or flax seeds.
1/2 cup dried rice or lentils.
1/2 cup dried lavender or chamomile (or both!).
Mix together three or all of the above items. You’ll need 1 1/2 cups total.
Step 1: Cut the fabric
Using some chalk, mark two 12 by 26 cm rectangles on the wrong (nonprinted) side of your fabric and cut out to create two panels needed for the pillow.
Step 2: Sew the seams
Place the two panels’ right (printed) sides together, with the edges aligned. By hand or using a sewing machine, stitch a seam along 3 of the sides, about 1 cm from the edge and backstitching at each end (sewing first in reverse, then forward over the same stitches). Leave one of the shorter sides sides open with no stitching. Turn the eye pillow right side out.
Step 3: Fill the pillow
Spoon your filling into the pillow’s open seam.
Step 4: Close the final seam
Fold down the edges of the open side of the pillow, and stitch together either by hand or with a machine until the opening is completely closed. Then the fun part: Lie down, put it over your eyes, and treat yourself to 5 minutes of deep relaxation! You can also place it under your regular pillow at nighttime to add a bit of extra relaxation to your regular sleep. Happy dreaming everyone!