In case you have no idea (or often wondered) what I am doing to you in your peaceful Savasana, wonder no more...
Smudging is an indigenous and shamanic practice dating back centuries, it is used to clear and transmute “mala energía” (bad energies) by burning certain sacred herbs or plants. Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies to return you back to a state of balance, peace and harmony. The smudging and burning of incense is a preliminary and integral part of many indigenous ceremonies and practices from all over the world, throughout history dating all the way back to the Inca’s, Mayan’s and Egyptians and most likely way beyond that.
The linage I follow is Shipibo a Shamanic Amazonian tribal region from the Amazon basin region, and the incense that I use mainly is Palo Santo which I brought back with me from my Shamanic initiation in Peru last year.
It is used for its spiritual and energetic cleansing and healing properties similar to White Sage and Cedar. In the Shipibo tradition Palo Santo is used in smoke baths, a method of clearing negativity and demons and as a means of protection and drawing good fortune to the beholder. It cleanses your auric field (which for most of us extends anywhere from 1ft in front of us to 9 ft, the latter for the highly attuned human). In Kundalini Yoga we call this the 8th Chakra. Our aura provides protection and acts as a filter for negative environmental influences - a strong aura automatically uplifts and improves the working of all the other chakras’. It is said that the scent raises your vibration in preparation for meditation and allows for a deeper connection to the Source of all creation.
Not only do you smudge yourself (or others), but you can smudge spaces in your home or workplace, it can be used to clear the air after an argument or negative experience or even for a special occasion. If you plan on doing this, don't forget to do corners………. bad shit likes to hang out in corners! It is a strong medicine and is said to be effective in keeping energies grounded and clear, which is why it is particularly effective after Yoga in Savasana to help you come back down and out into reality a little bit more stronger and resilient to the negative effects of the external environment. It is great for calming the immune and nervous systems for a deeper relaxed state and in increasing Theta brain waves, it is also said that it can speed up the recovery of illness. The wood is extracted from dead trees and fallen branches without the use of dangerous chemicals or solvents and therefore makes the method far more sustainable and environmentally friendly, despite this unfortunately Palo Santo is very much a finite resource.
Of course (like with most Esoteric practices) the effectiveness of the smudge depends on the strength and clarity of your intention (or the person using it on you), so make sure you ask the Palo Santo or Sage clearly for protection, clearing and connection before you begin.