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Cleaning House

In most yoga classes that I teach, I attempt to incorporate knowledge of all eight limbs of yoga.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been emphasizing the niyama of saucha, which translates into purity or cleanliness. As a nurse, of course this has huge meaning for me regarding patient care and safety. Making sure I wash my hands before and after every patient interaction. Making sure my patients are clean and hygiene is maintained at all times, applying this to post-op wound care, IV sites, and even making sure the patient's room is clean, picked up and tidy. But saucha also goes beyond the physical practice of cleanliness or purity.

So, for the most part, we all brush our teeth and bathe daily, washing our hair, bodies, etc. That is a tangible purity. We can engage the senses in the physical sense of this niyama. But of course, saucha also applies to the mind and spirit, the other two of our trifecta of mind/body/spirit wellbeing. As we seek to find this balance, we must go within and find what needs to be cleaned out. Asking ourselves the hard questions. Just like cleaning out our closets and reorganizing them, we must take out all the clutter that bogs down our minds and hearts. Going through and sorting it all out, deciding what no longer serves us and getting rid of it. Letting it go. Then taking whatever is left over, and neatly putting it back.

A cleansing process doesn't have to be a big endeavor really. We can begin to purify with our nutrition and fitness by eating fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and engaging in some form of exercise. And how about cleansing the tongue? As in, speaking the truth without causing harm. Speaking kindly. We can clean the clutter off our workspace or actually clean that one closet in the house that we have a tendency to neglect. The point here is that saucha or purity can be discovered and applied in many different ways in our day to day lives.

The niyama of saucha is asking us to work from the inside, out. I emphasize in the class the "letting go's" and with that, comes the act of purity. Letting go of judgement, competition, and expectation. These letting go's create the opportunity to be present. In the moment. To let everything fall away, the past, the future, the "monkey mind" and just be. Purely.

What can we do to practice saucha in our every day lives? Begin with the food we eat, what makes us feel slow and sluggish, weighing us down. Then find a way to let go of what weighs down the mind and spirit. Talk to a friend or counselor, journal, express these thoughts or feelings in some non-harmful way. What positive thoughts, emotions, or habits can replace the heavy emotional baggage? And find a quiet moment to just be. Sit in solitude, let the thoughts surface, face them and then let them go, allowing the next thought to bubble up, continuing the practice of letting go, always coming back to focus on the breath between thoughts. Being purely in the moment.

My challenge for you, the reader, is to find moments to create saucha in your life. What do you need to purify? What is the heavy load you are carrying? What is no longer serving you? Start small, be specific. And be the change, be the inspiration.


"The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in." B. K. S. Iyengar

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