sattva shuddhi saumanasya ekagra indriya-jaya atma darshana yogyatvani cha
A few months ago I worked on a series of posts focused on the yamas, the ethical laws of yoga and how we interact with the world as laid out by Patanjali. I’d like to continue this study of the Eight Limb Path of Yoga, or Ashtanga Yoga, by moving on to the niyamas. Niyamas follow the yamas and consist of five tenents on how one should interact with themselves. Whereas yamas focus on the outer world, niyamas focus on the inner world of the Self.
Modern yogis have also translated saucha to mean a healthy lifestyle and a clear and organized environment. For householders, keeping a cluttered environment relates to a cluttered mind. Living an unhealthy lifestyle, drinking too much, overeating, smoking, etc., are all ways we damage the body and live without mindfulness. In my own experience I have found that it is harder for me to concentrate when my environment is disorganized and messy. Being mindful of my environment helps me to stay organized and keep things tidy leaving me more time for practice or study.
To me, his words capture the essence of saucha: the intention to act from compassion rather than selfishness. When I treat others with compassion, I am practicing saucha, and at those times my relationships are as pure and connected as they can ever be.”
If we aspire to be calm and peaceful then we must practice doing so through evenness of mind, thoughts, and actions. If we speak harmfully about other people then those toxic words will fill the air and our vision will be clouded with judgment. If our environment is chaotic and disorganized, then surely our mind will follow. If we seek purity of the body, then filling up on toxins will do us more harm than good. Cultivating a sense of respect for yourself, your surroundings and those around you brings awareness and mindfulness to your actions, thoughts and words.
Live with pure intention in your home, in conversations with friends and with every interaction to bring awareness to your to your practice. When in doubt, remember the ancient proverb “cleanliness is next to godliness.”
What does this sutra mean to you? How do you practice saucha?
Photo by Sanjibm