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Transcenting’ With Incene Fragrances

By Ramsi K. McGhee

A a couple of years ago I found out myself in a Yoga studio, and that is one of the most respectable things that has occurred to me in my recent past. At the time I was really fighting with depression and an eating disorder, and urgently needed something to add me peace and well-being. It sufficed, and began working physically, mentally, and emotionally for me immediately.

If you have rehearsed yoga, you are aware of what I am referring to in that there are a lot cases of exercise (both by yourself or with other people), so you are able to have a cardio class/session working through positions with each intake and out-take of breath. You can have courses where you remain in a position for 5 or 10 minutes, while the Yogi directs your motions and meditations. At the distant end of the spectrum is what I have in mind as ‘the grannie yoga’ classes. These loosening classes/sessions deal with largely sitting and lying poses, held for extended periods of time, and are frequently educated in low light.

I’ve found that when I rehearse in varied types of lighting, with/without/what kind of music, AND with varied kinds of spice incense, my yoga experience changes DRAMATICALLY. Now this does not just apply to the yoga crowd, but I would like to expand my recommendations about incorporating incense into your prayer sittings, sitting/lying meditations, unwinding bath, evening reflections, and writing. The ability that incense scents contain as you inhale them in and your brain registers them, is staggering.

So now, in my meditations and yoga, I employ all kinds of devices to alter my sensory experiences, using: lighting, music, time of day, incenses, essential oils, and even herbal incenses (trust me, I’ll discuss that in another article). But, to stick with a single subject, I’ll tell you a bit about the contents of my incense box. These little sticks and cones have a phenomenal affect that transports my meditative experiences to many far and mystical, imagined places.

* The Indian incense (imaginef the earthier, ‘hippie-smelling’ ones such as Hem and Nag-Champa) are most historically applicable, as the Yoga sacred scripture* were born from Indian Hinduism between 100 B.C.E. and 50 A.D.. So these incenses are acknowledged for their large densities of plumeria and sandalwood content, and also contain the resin from the Ailanthus Malabarica tree, which has mind-altering attributes (beta-carboline).

* When I light a block of Incenso De Santa Fe, I am carried away to the high desert mesas of my home of New Mexico. These incenses are abundant with the resins of the native juniper, pinon, and cedar woods. These aromas make me recollect smelling the rain, and seeing thunderheads long before the thinly distrubuted sagebrush experienced their chill, mending drops. This incense functions beyond furnishing you a campfire aroma, and aids to reacquaint you with the Earth.

* Most recently, I have been acquainted to a line of Japanese incense (Nippon Kodo), and enjoy every smell I’ve found (the package says they’ve been in business since 1575!! so they’d better be doing something right). In their fragile lightness, these incenses present the exquisite, precise, and oh-so-understated nature of Japanese culture. With these incenses, rather than feeling the cosmic cloud roll over you as with the dense Indian incenses, or experiencing the incredibly natural, but less-exotic incenses of the Southwest U.S., the Japanese incenses tend to float on the air. This is partially due to the fact that they have no inner ‘stick’ that burns along with the resins and aromas it has been dipped in, so the entire incense ‘stick’ is this fragile fragrance. The lightes t I have found, called ‘Aqua,’ guides my Yoga practice into an exercise in precision and density – helping me aim for the counterbalance beauty of a Bonsai.

There are, by nature, many, MANY other classes of incenses, coming from all corners of the planet. In my trove, I currently also have a hoard of Lebanese incense (which is heavy like the Indian incenses, but utilises different herbal/resin combinings).

I was also given some lavendar-flavored incense identified as Cheech y Chong’s Up in Smoke Incense, which smells frightful, but makes me laugh. And that is, maybe, the most skilful way to attack drawing aromatherapy into your religious practice. Try something new. How does it make you FEEL? – I mean in your gut, in your chest cavity, in your head? Try shutting your eyes while the fragrance drifts past you through the room. Do you like it? Great. That’s where you set out.

Ramsi K. McGhee has been researching incense fragrances for over 15 years. She regularly reviews spice and herbal incenses over at

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
McGhee, Ramsi K. "Transcenting’ With Incene Fragrances." Transcenting’ With Incene Fragrances. 1 Jul. 2010. 4 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
McGhee, R (2010, July 1). Transcenting’ With Incene Fragrances. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
McGhee, Ramsi K. "Transcenting’ With Incene Fragrances"

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