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Cleaning Up Our Act

living your yoga Aug 13, 2023

The Eight Limbs of Yoga:  An 16 part mini-course

PART SEVEN: SAUCHA – CLEANLINESS

Through simplicity and continual refinement, the body, thoughts, and emotions become clear reflections of the Self within. Saucha revels our joyful nature, and the yearning for knowing the Self blossoms.  Sutras II.40 – 41

CLEANLINESS, PURITY, SIMPLICITY

Saucha is one of five Niyamas, personal guidelines for living. Saucha, translated as cleanliness or purity, invites us to purify our bodies, our thoughts, and our words. Yoga as a practice purifies our system and by extension, our lives. It’s all about cleaning up our act and simplifying our lives to get down to bare bones of knowing who we are and revealing our joy.

The practice of Saucha encourages us to keep things clean and pure both inside and out. Keep our thoughts uncluttered so that we can feel free from affliction of emotions. Keep our body and environment in order to create a sense of calm.

Taking steps to cleanse and purify ourselves will look different for each of us. It might take the form of physical exercise, or increased water intake, a day of fasting, or perhaps cleaning out our sock drawer. Maybe you will spend a day cleansing your speech so that you eliminate gossiping, complaining and whining. Whatever form cleansing takes, it always begins with an intention to lighten the load we are carrying.

What load are you carrying? Are you willing to put it down? 

Saucha also holds a relational quality that asks us not only to seek cleanliness in ourselves, yet to seek purity with each moment by allowing it to be as it is. We are asked to be with life, with others, with things, with the day, with work, with the weather, as they are in the moment, not as we wish they were or think they should be. Willingly accepting that “this is my life today” and live it well.

In The Secret Power of Yoga, Nischala Devi says, 

“Through simplicity and continual refinement, the body, thoughts and emotions become clear reflections of the Self within.” 

By purifying our attachment to outward things, which are both transient and superficial, we are able to reflect more deeply on our individual nature and come to know what is most real and reliable within, which is both enduring and genuine.

Cultivating simplicity can be a refreshing change from the complicated world we live in. Saucha is a wonderful practice for avoiding the stress that so often accompanies the busy season of Summer with the addition of activities, company, travel and so much to do.

Here’s a few tips for inviting simplicity into your days.

  1. Give yourself the gift of the present by pausing for a deep breath throughout your day.
  2. Exchange the word busy to full. My life is so full…Invoke gratitude for the abundance in your life.
  3. Look into the eyes off your loved ones and listen intently to what they have to share. Saucha reminds us to cleanse away distractions so that we can clearly see, hear and genuinely connect with those around us.
  4. Let yourself linger on the beauty that surrounds you. The dawning of a new day, a blossoming flower, the warmth of summer’s sunshine, the rich colors at sunset.Take it all in with sense a peace in the present moment.
  5. When it comes to facing your long list of To-Dos, do them one at a time celebrating the completion of each task.

How do you keep your body clean and pure?
Your home? Your meals? Your speech? Your relationships? Your life?

How will you practice the art of cleanliness and simplicity today?

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