What Is Palo Santo?

If you’ve taken classes in the Ohana studio, you’ve probably noticed the smoky, sweet fragrance of freshly burned palo santo. Palo santo – or “holy wood” – is known to have special healing properties that can instantly cleanse your space and uplift your spirit.

Palo santo is invigorating yet calming, able to shift your energy in a single moment. Where other plants, such as sage, are more known for clearing away negative energies, palo santo is especially effective in balancing the space the negative energy leaves behind and filling it with positivity and light. Palo santo has the power to purify, relieve stress and anxiety, and raise your vibrational frequency–the ultimate energetic cleanse for your mind, body, spirit, and environment.


Burning palo santo has numerous health and spiritual benefits. However, burning palo santo is all about intention. As you light a stick of palo santo and softly inhale the sweet, woodsy scent, you are able to channel its power towards whatever your purpose may be. This is a centuries-old practice known as smudging. Smudging involves using the smoke of a sacred plant to bring forward a certain metaphysical effect. Smudging essentially deposits the energy of the plant into the space, helping to clear any dark or stagnant energies. This can be done for spaces as well for people or objects. 

To do this, simply hold the flame from a lighter to the end of your palo santo stick and wait for the entire end of the stick to start burning (about 30 seconds to a minute). Gently blow on this end or wave it back and forth quickly a few times to let the flame go out and then place it down into a small heat-proof container or smudging dish. This will produce all the smoke you need for whatever intention you set!

Palo santo can also be a beautiful element to add to your self-care routine

For example, a great time to burn a bit of palo santo is right before your meditation or yoga practice. Doing so cleanses your aura and the space around you so you can settle in and go deeper. Burning palo santo has an incredibly beneficial aromatherapy effect as well – simply inhaling its intoxicating scent can instill a deep sense of relaxation and melt away tension and stress. 

History of Palo Santo

Using palo santo is by no means a new practice. In fact, it has been used for centuries by the indigenous populations of Latin America for spiritual healing and other traditional ceremonies. This sacred tree is native to South America and has been prominent in these cultures for years, with references to the palo santo tree dating back as far as the Incan era. Shamans of the Amazonian region have used palo santo in medicinal practices for everything from headache relief to releasing emotional pain. The healers and shamans of South America believe palo santo wood to be imbued with a special, sacred magic that should be treated with the utmost care and respect. 

How to Source

Figuring out how to source palo santo–particularly to source it ethically–has become increasingly difficult given its popularity and demand. The most sustainable way to source it is by collecting the wood after it has already fallen from the tree naturally and only harvesting it after it has been dead for several years. This allows the natural oils in the wood enough time to fully mature before being harvested into usable oils or sticks. Properly harvested palo santo trees are never cut down–the spirit continues to live in the wood long after the tree has fallen.

All of the palo santo available for purchase in our studio space is of the highest quality, ethically and sustainably sourced materials. In the Ohana boutique you can either purchase a bundle, a single stick beautifully etched with the moon phases or sacred geometry. Next time you’re in the studio, ask your instructor or an ambassador to burn some for you and experience the magic for yourself!