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Saucha: An introduction to the first Niyama

Welcome back! In this post, we take a look at Saucha, the first Niyama. Saucha means purity, clarity or cleanliness, and we often think of that as cleanliness of the body, but it is more than that.

In her book, The Language of Yin, Gabrielle Harris tells us that Saucha is “…housekeeping (for the) the body, mind and spirit.” The Yoga Sutra 2.4 says, “…through Saucha, the body, thoughts and emotions become clear reflections of the Self within.” Keeping ourselves “pure” isn’t just about eating a “clean” diet. It’s also about what we feed our mind. The books we read, the television or movies we watch, the music we listen to, the thoughts we allow to circulate in our brain. It’s even about our relationships. Are they nurturing or toxic? Everything that comes into our body through our mouth, our ears, eyes or nose is all part of how we fuel ourselves, it all becomes part of our makeup, our cells.

During my yoga study with my first teach, Mary Beth Nehl, at the Yoga Loft in Willmar, Saturday was dinner and movie night. Mary Beth always chose a movie, film or documentary about or related to yoga or yoga philosophy. Something to further the deeper study, the work. She stressed feeding ourselves with good, nutritious stuff – food, water, thoughts, images, music, books, relationships, and of course, chocolate in moderation!

Ever have a song “stuck in your head?” I often wake up in the morning with a song looping over and over through my brain. Sometimes, I know exactly how it got there. Other times, I have no idea, but there it is, clogging up my thought, taking up space, distracting me. If it something happy, uplifting, positive, I wake up happy and uplifted. If it's something dark, I wake up with a sense of heaviness. I can go through the day feeling distracted.

Why did the yogis place so much importance on this principle of cleanliness? I think because when we can remove the “gunk”, we get clear in our thoughts and who we are. Our bodies have more energy and move more easily. We are less likely to feel unwell in some way. We can discover and focus on what is important in our lives.

Thanks for stopping by! In the next post, I will talk more about Saucha and our impact on the world we live in.

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