The second limb of the eight limbed path of yoga is "NIYAMA." Often, this is translated to mean duties or observances - they help us understand how to care for ourselves. We're going to move through the Niyamas one at a time for the next few weeks to really integrate these teachings. Let's jump in!
Saucha literally translates to "purity," or "cleanliness." In the modern world, purifying or detoxifying the body has become kind of a fad or trend with buzz words like "juicing," or "fasting," especially with holistic health on the rise. However, cleanliness in this case is more than juicing for a few days or sweating it out in a sauna.
Let's start with the outermost layers of our world: our homes. This is more than just cleaning out that one drawer in your kitchen (you know which drawer we're talking about). This is a constant practice of tidying, cleaning, decluttering and getting rid of what no longer needs to exist in our space.
Next, thinking about cleanliness of the physical body. Our body does a wonderful job of purifying itself (thank you, liver!), but there are things we can do to help it along. It could look like drinking more water, taking a yoga class, or showering on a regular basis. It's also what foods, drinks or substances we are putting into our bodies, what we are doing to condition the body (you already know yoga is our fav), and what substances we're ingesting through our skin (think: lotions, perfumes, detergents, etc).
Moving even deeper, we have purity in the mind. Several years ago, I taught this concept to children and one of the 1st graders told me that you need to have a clean mind, too. I asked her why and she said, "if your mind is messy like your room is messy, you won't be able to find anything and it will make you stressed out." So wise beyond her years! Our internal experience is just as important as the external one. When we look, I mean really look, at the qualities of the mind, we may find chaos, lethargy, sadness, or just a big ol' mess. It is part of our path to start to sift through the contents of the mind and do the same as we do with our physical space - tidying, cleaning, decluttering and getting rid of what no longer needs to exist in our space.
It takes time to clean up and sometimes it even takes help from a professional. That's okay. As Ram Dass says, "We're all just walking each other home." None of us are ever truly alone on this path to liberation and this walk takes time, patience, and dedication.
As with all limbs of yoga, the ultimate goal is to calm the mind so that you may see your true Self and recognize that you are not separate from the universe at large. Saucha illuminates the purity of our spirit so that we may see clearly and find enlightenment.
Here's are a few mindfulness prompts for you. Remember, take what works for you and leave the rest.
• Choose one, small area of your home to tidy up such as a drawer, a cabinet, or a countertop.
• Notice how your body changes or feels with different foods you eat. If you drink a cold smoothie, how does that affect your body? What if you eat hot soup?
• Journal when your mind feels full, overwhelmed or chaotic. Journal when your mind feels calm, rested, and pure.
• Define what cleanliness and purity mean to you. Redefine it as many times as you need.
Love & Well Wishes,
Living the Sutras by Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden
Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Edwin Bryant
The Yogi Assignment by Kino MacGregor
The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi