With christmas season behind us, the time of indulgence is coming to an end: delicious meals, lots of presents and long nights of laughter have been accompanying us in this magical time. This also made me think about the yogic term of “Saucha”. Let’s see what’s it all about….
NIYAMAS – SAUCHA
In my last YOGA 101 post, I spoke about ahimsa, which can be placed into the field of Yamas – rules for the behaviour with other beings. Now we will have a look on the first of the Niyamas – guidelines for yourself and self care (so you are AS important AS others).
Cleanliness and Purity
Saucha (orig. “शौच) means literally cleanliness, purity or clearness. First of all it really relates to what the translation implicates: hygiene. Originating in old India in a time with not really hygienic standards, Saucha means preserving a clean body. A clean body always meant a healthy body. And a healthy and clean body was the key to a long life (no one wants to die of an infection after cutting his toe-nail, right?). So, on the first level Saucha means taking care of your physical body: keeping yourself clean from inside and outside. Inside?… It also includes the food you take in! Of course, it is common sense to not eat spoiled or rotten things. But there is more to that: it also implicates the quality of food and meals you put into yourself. When you eat garbage, your body will not be able to prosper and will start “rotting” from inside: bad digestion and the accumulation of “toxins” (unnecessary fat, for example 😉 ) are just the beginning of this process. Concerning that, Saucha helps to remind us also to take care of our eating habits and to nourish ourselves in order to live without suffering.
Apart from common hygiene and food it’s also about clearing our lives. All these things, cloths, books, stuff you don’t even know, what it is good for, can be also a hindrance and burden. That can also fall under the law of Saucha: Clearing up your space in order to live more lightly and freely.
The Purity in Speech
Ok, apart from the obvious like always washing your hands and eating properly, Saucha can be also applied to a more subtil level: Clearness and purity for example in speech. Raise your hand if you have ever said something you don’t mean! Yup, everyone is or was guilty of that. Saucha practiced in relation to our speech means being truthful towards others AND ourselves! Yes, sometimes we don’t want to hurt someone or we just want to escape unpleasant situations by not sticking to the truth (and yes, I am also counting not telling everything to that 😉 ). It can be painful or more complicated, but Saucha teaches us also to search clearness and purity in our communication with others. Being not-truthful can also have a toxifying effect on us – which is the contrast to the principle of Saucha.
The Hygiene of Mind
There is even more to the topic of speech. The inner speech we have with ourselves. Apart from speaking the truth to the outside worlds, Saucha also wants to remind us of our inner “mind hygiene”. Being truthful to ourselves, speaking what is true concerning us, our skills and our memories. It means accepting our deepest wishes and desires – even if it sometimes seems that they might be odd or crazy (who is defining that, anyway?). Moreover, it can also mean admitting that we have made a mistake or that we have found a negative side in us – and yes, there are plenty in everyone!
Saucha should not let you feel bad about yourself, please don’t misunderstand. It is a tool, a guideline to help you live a pure life. To spot and detect possible obstacles or weights on our shoulders, which are not needed.
So try to watch out, where you can practice Saucha and help yourself in staying healthy, balanced and joyful. Namaste!
The practice of Saucha frees us from all obstacles – no matter if physical or psychological – helping us on our way to inner peace and happiness.