SAUCHA - CLEANLINESS
Saucha is the first of the Niyamas and refers to cleanliness and purity. This cleanliness in yoga refers not only to cleanliness of the outside of our bodies, but also the inside and cleanliness of our minds and surroundings too.
1. The Body
When we look at how we care for ourselves externally, this does not refer to vanity, but rather taking good care of personal hygiene so that we keep our skin, our hair etc. healthy and clean. Cleanliness in yoga however runs much deeper than just how we care for the outer body.
How do you care for the inside of your body? Is the food you eat clean and beneficial for health, does it benefit your practice of yoga? Are you drinking plenty of water to cleanse the body of toxins? The physical practice of yoga cleanses our bodies and there are specific breathing techniques which yogis practice to detoxify and cleanse the body such as Nauli breathing or Kappalabhati. (If you are new to yogic breathing techniques please ensure you learn them correctly from a yoga teacher as they are very powerful). Being careful of what you put on your body in terms of lotions and perfumes is also considered important. Mamy people will eat organic foods, free from toxic pesticides and then douse their body in chemically laden lotions, potions and perfumes. These are absorbed into the bloodstream and many contain toxic ingredients. Look for 'clean' products - the simpler and more natural the better.
2. The Mind
Purity and cleanliness also exist in the mind. When we think negative thoughts about ourselves and others can it can have a big impact. How are you directing the energy of your mind? What are the intentions behind what you think? An unclean thought can be thinking something negative about someone else. Researchers are now studying and finding links between negative emotions and harmful effects on the brain and the organs of the body. Try to be kind to yourself and others by learning to control the thoughts that you allow to come into your mind! We can choose goodness and positivity over harmful and negative thoughts.
Look around you and what do you see? How are you living in your surroundings? Trying to keep our surroundings including our homes and workplaces clean and organized is also a part of the cleanliness that Saucha refers to. Sometimes a good clean out and reorganizing our space can really help! Keeping the space around us clean can help us to feel clean in our minds too. How do you feel when you walk into a space that is clear and clean and free from a lot of clutter vs a space that is messy and unorganized?
"When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and the senses controlled, joyful awareness, needed to realize the inner self, also comes." Yoga Sutras 2:41