I don’t know about you, but the feeling of a newly cleaned house, or getting into a freshly laundered bed, or getting out of the shower in the morning can really lift my spirits. Does it follow then that a clean body and pure mind feel virtuous and uplifted? When we come to our Yoga practice, we bring an intention, but is that intention pure, honest and wholesome? Are we practicing Yoga competitively or even aggressively? Are we bringing stress to our mats and restricting our breath, meaning we don’t fully nourish ourselves or let go of all that serves us? Do we switch off at the Savasana or leave class because we believe ‘rest’ is unimportant? The observance of cleanliness or purity is one we can probably all agree is a virtue, but as with all things Yoga, when we start to peel back the layers and move our practices inward, we come up against all that is less than wholesome and virtuous within us. The practice of saucha is about paying attention to all that we are, all that we do and all that we take in. When we’re paying attention we notice, not just what it is we’re experiencing but how it makes us feel. It’s then than we can make choices about what is working for us and what isn’t. Saucha can be a way of offering ourselves self-respect. When we’re clean and our homes are clean and tidy, we’re saying we care and respect our space. When we choose to eat and drink healthily, stay hydrated and eat plenty of plant based organic food we feel a sense of self-respect internally, our bodies and minds thank us for it. Again, it’s an act of self-respect, we’re saying we care about our bodies and minds, that it matters how we think and feel. More subtly when our awareness moves inwards, we notice all that we take in through sensory experience, the programmes, the adverts, the sound or noise, the imagery on social media etc. we have a reaction to all this if we pay close attention, and when we do notice we begin to empower choice. Once we notice what feels like a violation, or feels like a message of fear or feels diminishing or destructive then we can start to clean up our acts. We might choose to unfollow certain groups or individuals, maybe we moderate our time online or maybe we notice the goodness we’re taking in through quiet walks in nature, the peace we cultivate through stillness and quiet, the time spent breathing and settling our senses. When we observe those actions, which feel pure and virtuous our perspective shifts, we gain the kind of momentum which leads us towards more purity of thought, word and action in the world.
Take Saucha off the mat today: Take time to de-clutter a space in your home, maybe a drawer to start with and notice how you feel. Take time when you’re food shopping to notice whether your products are ethically sourced or local and organic, notice how it feels when you make healthy choices.