The Spring equinox is the point when the sun is directly in the middle point of the equator. Equi meaning ‘equal’ in latin. This is the time when new shoots literary spring forth from the darkness, when lambs are born, the sun returns and the whole cycle seems to begin again.
Spring is a wonderful time to declutter the home and with the new light shining through the windows from the higher sun and longer nights, you can harness that feeling of starting afresh and welcome this positively charged energy into your life.
Ideas and spontaneous acts to honour the Spring Equinox might look like: Spring cleaning. Donating to charity old clothes and other items you don’t need or want. Setting intensions and making heart felt plans for the warmer months for you and loved ones
Once you’ve cleaned your space and reaffirmed those intentions - which were perhaps initiated in the New Year, you can seal this clearing ritual with a beautiful fragrant smudging to diffuse any stagnant or lingering energies from wintertime.
Smudging is a practice that has been passed down through the ages and is a simple way to cleanse your own personal energies and of the space or objects around you. It’s a very gentle way also to cleanse personal items such as crystals and jewellery (and is the preferred method for many over the harsher salt method). By holding the intension to clear negative or stuck energies in your mind, you can release anything that does not serve you from yourself, others and which may be lingering in the space.
How to Cleanse the Energy in the Home
Here are a few tips on smudging that I use in my own practice:
1 To begin smudging, light your palo santo stick or a bundle of smudging herbs like sage, by gently lighting it up and wafting out the flame after a few seconds - don’t blow! You can also do this with a natural Palo Santo Atmosphere Mist if you don't or can't light a stick - like in a hotel room or at work for example.
2 When the stick is nicely smoking direct this cleansing smoke with a feather or fan around the body. Starting at the head work your way down to the feet, lift up the soles of each foot and then track the smoke back up the body again. End at the crown of the head gracefully swirling the smoke back up to the sky. You can also read my post on How to use Palo Santo Sticks.
3 To cleanse your space with smudging it's a similar method. Walk around every part of your space with the intension to purify the energies. Go under tables, beds, in dark corners and especially around electrical items and sockets. You may even like to first walk around the space with a drum and then a delicate chime before smudging. Sound vibration is also a powerful tool to reset any stuck energy formations. For more on this see this blog on creating harmony with Sound, Incense & feng Shui.
Enjoy the Spring Equinox and have fun !
There is a love / hate relationship with incense and yoga, some teachers fill the room with smoke and choose not so healthy incense for their yogis to ingest during yoga practice. This is a mistake. If chosen well and used correctly, incense is one of the most natural ways to fragrance a room out there ... here are some tips on how to use incense in a healthy way...
How to use Incense Sticks for Yoga
The correct way to burn incense sticks is to have them positioned at least two meters away from you, in a well ventilated room. Ideally burn the incense sticks before your yoga and meditation, so you cleanse the room and are breathing in just the scent mixed with air (also it will not get overpowering for sensitive people).
How to Choose the best Incense for Yoga
- If you test incense when buying in a shop do not smell the smoke directly, as you will not get the true scent, you will only smell the smoke. The scent needs to have space to mix with the air and unfold in a room.
- Look for pure, natural incense sticks WITHOUT perfumes, essential oils or un-aormatic filler - these totally natural incense sticks are made only from aromatic herbs and are the most healthy types of incense on the market. If you don't want things getting too smokey choose Japanese style or Tibetan style incense, which is without a bamboo core and the type that is made with only pure rolled herbs. This style burn more slowly too and produce a subtle elegant 'cloud'.
- Natural incense sticks smell different when you sniff directly from the pack, you ideally need to light one up to get the true fragrance. If you smell a strong scent from the packet it's probably perfumed and best avoided. Often natural incense sticks smell of spices or don't smell at all - but don't let that put you off, often lighting one up you will experience a surprisingly different scent as the herbs mix together when burning - creating something that only a true artist with the mastery of blending natural herbs can produce.
- Another way is to burn incense is in it's raw form, like Palo Santo Sticks or Sage bundles, but these are usually favoured for ceremonial purposes only, as you cannot leave them burning. Also they go out frequently so you need to keep re-lighting them. If you want to keep incense burning effortlessly whilst meditating, practicing yoga, tai chi or even during beautiful life meditations like: cooking, making art or reading etc, then natural incense 'sticks' are for you.
If your incense is well chosen and you have made sure that there is nothing in there except pure rolled aromatic ingredients, you are sure to be breathing in the healing properties of the plant - the true scent - the most healthy type of room fragrance for your yoga and meditation practice.
We hope this information will help you decide on what room fragrance is best for your: health, yoga and your lifestyle. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, we are happy to hear from you.
"Hey Yogies, is incense Yogic?"
There has been some press about how incense might not be good for your health, some complain of the carcinogenic effects of breathing the smoke. Temples in South East Asia have also come under fire, as some burn the cheap pungent stuff, which is usually a brightly coloured, synthetically fragranced paste rolled on bamboo sticks ("the heady stuff remembered by students and past hippies of the 1960's/70's). This type of incense often sold outside tube stations and in carelessly stocked hippy shops smells so strong even without lighting it. It’s this very stuff that seems to instantly give people headaches and allergic reactions.
There is much mis-information out there ... but thankfully not all incense is this low quality - but not many people know about it …
What Incense Sticks are Good for Health ?
Is it a secret? Well not in places in the East, where they understand sometimes better than us, what is healthy. Their system of Eastern medicine rivals our science and understanding of healing. For literally thousands of years people have lived in temples, burned incense several times daily and have often had longer lives than we have in the West. So if they have invented incense for health of mind & body, ingested the airborne incense smoke and have a highly regarded system of natural medicine, how come we are now saying incense is unhealthy? The fact largely comes from the recent intervention of the chemical industry. In the not so distant past chemical compounds, synthetic fragrances and colours were not in existence. The scents and dyes of ancient incense came from 'pure plants' and thus totally in accordance with the natural world. The perfume industry of today insist natural fragrance is not an option to sell to us as it's fragrance is "unstable, expensive and not long lasting" ... this may be the case in comparison with todays mass market perfumes, but truly natural incense sticks - the type that is made from only pure rolled herbs (not filler dipped in essential oils) often have a much longer lasting fragrance than any perfumed room products. Personally I can't stand reed diffusers as the scent is so pungent and unnatural. One high quality natural incense stick can scent the room for hours. They are also not going to be a health problem, as there are no chemicals or oils burning. This is the type of incense that is not readily available in the market place sadly - but there are some really great brands of incense out there that only deal in pure high grade natural incense sticks - so we suggest you find them and check: no perfumes, no essential oils, no unromantic filler, no bamboo core - only pure rolled herbs. This incense is the best for your health, the least smokey and what the ancient yogis, mystics and elite royal families used daily : )
See our Next Post on "The Most Healthy Way to Burn and Enjoy Incense for Yoga"
Incense sticks are often associated with yoga and meditation and can also be regularly seen burning in temples in the Far East. They are made from a natural material, most commonly seen with a bamboo core - but the quality of this type varies widely as many can have an over powering aroma. The higher quality ones tend to be made of a solid stick of pure rolled plant material, which can be seen most often in Japanese incense making. These are on the whole more natural and offer a more delicate fragrance suitable for meditation.
Incense can be burnt in the space before meditation or at the start of any spiritual practice to prepare the space. The smoke is said to clear away stuck or negative energies, as it purifies stuck vibrational patterns. This is also particularly good to do after any conflict in the household, or simply to keep the space feeling calm.
There are so many different types of incense available and it can be confusing to know where to start. Many spiritual shops do not always stock the best varieties either, thus giving incense a bad name altogether. Seeking out the best, most healthy incense sticks for your meditation is important - but how to do it?
Understanding what makes Incense healthy?
Finding high quality, healthy incense sticks is often quite a challenge. Firstly look for the words ‘natural incense sticks’ on the packet. This should mean that the sticks only contain natural ingredients - which is of course the very best for your health. However you might want to dig a little further and see where the fragrance comes from - what exactly is the stick made of? Many sticks are made with a bamboo core, which is coated with an un-aromatic filler. The incense stick is then either 'dipped' in a strong smelling perfume oil (which can be synthetic and best avoided) or more natural essentials oils (slightly better but still not the purest variety). If you are looking for the best incense sticks for your health seek out incense that is made with ONLY 'pure herbs' and doesn’t contain any bamboo core (as the bamboo core makes it more smoky smelling). Pure herbal incense also burns cleaner with a whiter smoke or an elegant 'cloud' as the ancients used to call it.
Japanese v's Tibetan Incense sticks
Tibetan incense is also very pure, but the quality varies wildly and if you get it wrong the scent can be quite earthy and too pungent for most tastes. For Tibetan incense sticks that are good quality look at the ingredients list and see if there are scents that you like, again look for natural fragrances, anything that smells very strong before you even opened it, is usually an indication that the scent is not real but 'dipped' in fragrance oil (which is to be avoided). The sticks here tend to be thick and smokey - but can also be lovely if the scent is refined or not too strong.
Japanese incense or what is also termed 'Japanese Style Incense Sticks' are harder to find, but these are some of the purest and most high quality varieties available on the market. Some of this type of incense can still contain subtle perfume, which although can be lovely sometimes, is not what we are looking for in our quest for the most healthy types of incense to use in meditation. Price often denotes quality here, so if it says Sandalwood and is surprisingly expensive, it usually means that the Sandalwood is pure and is made of the wood (and not from the essential oil). If you inhale the scent from the wood itself, you are breathing in one hundred times more benefits from this medicinal ingredient, than from any burning oils. Oils, essentials oils and perfumes cannot compete with the lasting natural scent of an aromatic herb either - as natural incense will often linger in the room several hours after burning. So when looking for where to buy the best incense sticks, definitely search for a pure herbal stick and make sure there are no oils inside - not even essential oils, as this can make the scent smokey (and carcinogenic). For meditation you want the scent as pure as possible.
We hope this guide has helped you identify which variety of incense best suits you and explains a little more about the various types available on the market. If you have any more questions please feel free to email us on the contact form below, we are very happy to assist.