Hello beautiful friends, and welcome back for the first niyama. This week we transition from covering the yamas, all the "restraints" to the niyamas, or the "observances." And, what a better way than to talk about Saucha, which means purity in Sanskrit.
Purity of the Body and Mind
Saucha can be broken down into two different areas of bringing purity into our lives. The first is what most might think of - to pure our bodies, thoughts, and words. Like many things, we must first start with cleansing ourselves in order to bring purity into our lives overall. By cleansing ourselves, we can prepare for fully experiencing life and make space for us to fully come into our true selves.
There are many things that one can do in order to purify the body, thoughts, and words, and the cleansing process should be specific to you and your needs. These can be anything from drinking more water to starting an exercise routine to starting therapy to help with any mental illness we may have or any suffering we're experiencing to forgiveness of others or ourselves. The underlying goal is to lighten any burdens we might be carrying.
One thing to be clear on here is the difference between purification and cleanliness. Cleanliness is the process of tidying up the outside of us, like our appearance to the world. Purification, however, works on our insides and changes the very essence of our being. While cleanliness changes our outside appearance, purification cleanses our soul. Both are important, but Saucha calls us to seek purification.
Purity in our Relationships
The second part of Saucha is purifying our relationships. This includes our relationships to others and with ourselves, as well as with the present moment. In order to practice Saucha, we have to let go of expectations, illusions, and ideals about how things "should be" and learn to just be with it as it is.
One way to think about this aspect is to practice having a "beginner's mind." Imagine how you looked at the world as a child. Children look at each new day, new experience as an adventure, with wonderment. They approach each moment with curiosity and explore their surroundings. Imagine how your day would drastically change if seen through this lens.
One thing that I've often been told by yoga instructors is to approach each practice with this "beginner's mind." They encourage us to come to each class as if we know nothing and approach each pose with curiosity and wonder. This mindset has provided me with some of the most enjoying sequences and led to the most progress in my practice.
When it comes to being pure in our relationship with ourselves, as with others, we need to let go of the expectations we hold ourselves to. We often hold onto things that we "should" do or "should" be, and these are only damaging our relationship with the truest part of ourselves. We also tend to deny ourselves of what we're truly feeling or our desires.
Being pure in your relationship to yourself means not being afraid of your thoughts or feelings and to not hide anything from yourself. We have to learn to be fearlessly with all parts of ourselves.
How to bring Saucha into your week ahead:
- Notice the areas where you feel heavy or sluggish. Begin to purify these areas of your life.
- Practice differentiating between cleanliness and purification. Don’t focus all your attention on cleaning the exterior parts of your life, and instead spend some time purifying your insides.
- Practice coming into moments with a “beginner’s mind.” Let go of expectations and find wonder in what is.
- Spend time being with yourself. Let go of all the “should’s” and purely be with yourself as you are today.
Thank you for another lovely week of exploring the yamas and niyamas of the eight limbs of yoga. Hope you are able to bring some purification into your week ahead, and I'll see you next week!
With love and light,