The Eight Limbs of Yoga: Niyamas & Saucha
The niyamas are the second limb of yoga. Just like the yamas, there are five niyamas. They can be thought of as healthy daily habits that are cultivated in order to live a more elevated and conscious life.
By practicing the yamas, we make way for the niyamas. We make a point to clear out the unproductive energy and it naturally is replaced with purposeful habits that promote peace and wellness.
The first niyama is saucha, meaning cleanliness or purity
of our body and mind.
The idea is that we want the body to be as clean and healthy as possible so that we can further our spiritual pursuit without limitations, distractions or diseases in the physical realm of our existence.
Practicing yoga asana and pranayama is a form of saucha, and in fact, yogis did these practices so that they would be physically able to sit for hours and hours in contemplation. Yogis liken the asana practice to alchemy; by building heat through movement and deep breathing we boil out the impurities of the physical body and bring about perfect golden health.
As yogis, we prepare our body by eating well, then purify the body through the physical yoga practice, which gives way to cleansing our mind and heart.
"Let food be thy medicine."
What we give our body is either preventing dis-ease or feeding it. Practicing saucha is maintaining the daily habit of cleaning our body from the inside out. Obviously we need to bathe on a regular basis, but this also includes nourishing our bodies with fresh, clean herbs, fruits and vegetables, drinking water and mineral rich teas, while eliminating processed foods from our diet as much as possible. By eating real, whole foods, we bring about a healthy body and a clear mind. The more we can change our diet toward one that cleanses and fuels our insides, the easier life becomes in all aspects.
Declutter your mind.
In the same way we want to keep the body clean by practicing proper hygiene, feeding it nourishing foods, and molding it through a physical practice, we need to practice saucha of the mind by feeding it positive, loving thoughts, and regularly resetting our awareness through some form of meditation. When you notice you're speaking poorly of yourself or others, cleanse your mind. When you notice you're feeling off balance or overwhelmed with to-do lists, find a way to declutter your consciousness.
Cleansing the mind can look different to everyone. Maybe you take a long walk or yoga class, call a good friend, listen to an uplifting podcast, draw or cook or maybe you sit and meditate. Whatever it is that resets your mental state, that brings you back into clarity, do that everyday.
Saucha of the mind is bringing the mind back to Pure Awareness so that we can live in yoga.
Spring clean your life!
The whole aim of yoga is to calm the waves of the mind so that we can see clearly and live peacefully. We want to create a space (inner and outer) that promotes this goal. By purifying our body inside and out, speaking and thinking from compassion, and cleansing our mental state on a day to day basis, over time we live a life of harmony, where the essence of our being is simply Pure Consciousness. We become a clear vessel of light through which divinity can shine through.
Photo by Sean Shelton @capturedconnections, feat. CJ Kessler @cj_yogidiver & friend
The Saucha Project:
Consider how you feel in a clean, tidy, spacious home as opposed to a dirty, dusty, cluttered one. It feels good to be in a clean environment. We have the space to clear our mind and focus on the present moment. Our outside environment effects and reflects our inner environment. A clean physical space promotes yoga.
This week, practice saucha and promote yoga in your life by cleansing your physical spaces. Organize your closet, clean out your pantry. You'd be amazed at how much lighter you feel energetically when you donate all those miscellaneous items you've been holding on to for years (that never get used anyway) and create more spaciousness around the house.
For love, with love.