Burning sage, which is also known as smudging, is said to cleanse and clear the energy of a space and also of a person. No ordinary plant, sage has long been regarded as one of nature’s healing herbs. It is believed to bring about wisdom and increase spiritual awareness to those who work with it. We even refer to the ancient seers and even modern voices of wisdom as sages.
Created by indigenous Americans, it was originally the shamans who performed the sage smudging ritual, believing that it held the power to invoke the ancestral world while also absorbing any evils an individual in the community might be harboring. If and when you try the ancient smudging ritual yourself, the scent of this ceremonial white sage may very well evoke memories of past lives, long forgotten ancestry and/or a spiritual sense of home.
See what comes up for you as you smudge your room or your aura after learning here the science behind the sage plant, which sage to buy, when to burn it, and how to use it in your personal life and yoga practice.
Science of Sage
One of the great things about this Native American cleansing ritual is that it actually has science to back it up. When the sage is burned, it releases negative ions known to leave one feeling uplifted. This change in ionic composition does wonders for relaxing our stress response. It also clears the air of unwanted bacteria, so one might smudge during flu season to prevent oneself from getting sick. Those who work with healing crystals sometimes like to smudge their crystals, cleansing the energy field of these sacred stones to support their innate healing powers.
Selecting Your Sage
The beauty of the sage cleansing ritual is that it’s easy. Anyone can do it. All you need are sage smudge sticks, which can be purchased at health food stores, new age stores and even bookstores. You’ll want to purchase the dried white ceremonial variety. When burned, it has a beautiful scent that cleanses the air around you. The sage cleansing experience can be deeply mystical, giving you a feeling of spiritual connection and oneness.
You can perform the smudging practice anywhere: in your home, yoga studio, work space and/or around yourself. Yogis who believe in this ritual and practice it with devotion say it’s like taking a kind of energetic shower. It’s even said to relax a person and release stressful energy.
(Here are more ways to Unlock the Stress in Your Body With Healing Yoga Techniques.)
When to Smudge With Sage
A common time to choose when to cleanse with sage is upon moving into a new home or clearing out stagnant energy in an existing home. Others like to perform this ritual in times of illness or even after a conflict or argument. You may wish to do it before sitting down to a deep meditation practice or even before yoga. Some yogis also like to smudge after coming home from places where there are large crowds or nervous energy.
If you’re on the threshold of a new career or job, then it might be a good time to cleanse with sage. Another time to sage may also be before and/or after you have visitors to your home. If you’re about to have any kind of ceremony, this, too, would be an ideal time to set an intention and let the sage burn bright.
Healers often use sage before reiki and other energy work sessions. Sage cleansing is also effective after someone has experienced trauma. Trauma can greatly impact the energy of a person and their home. Smudging, burning candles/incense and bringing as much light and love into a home after a trauma can be very healing.
Anytime you feel you need raise your spirits is also a good time to practice smudging. Energy workers may tell you that depression or any other feelings of negativity have to do with blocked or stagnant energy, and smudging is believed to help clear this blocked energy, leaving you feeling like an altogether new person.
Sage on Your Spiritual Journey
Yogis throughout the ages have believed that sage increases our intuitive powers. Our intuition, when focused, can guide us along our soul’s evolutionary journey through the many ups and downs of life. Meditation and other practices that help us strengthen this sixth sense are vital for living well on the spiritual path.
(More on intuition in Get Your 'Monkey Mind' to Unwind Using These 4 Methods.)
Finally, sage comes in handy when working with negativity. The regular practice of smudging is essential for anyone who wants to banish negativity. Set a positive intention for your smudging ritual. Then invite high vibrations and healing energy as you perform your cleansing, and let the love and light flow in!