Saucha

Purity of mind can mean many things to many people. Saucha, the first niyama of yoga, is interpreted by some to mean detoxing, juice cleanses, hygiene, and a pure diet.

I’m not here to say whether that’s right or wrong, but I am here to say that if we make this practice only about the body, we deny ourselves the opportunity to experience so much more. Like asana, the physical postures, if we think the point is moving our body into a certain shape, while we may see benefits from that physically, there is so much that we are missing out on. I am of the opinion that saucha isn’t about cleaning the body. Try as we might to cleanse ourselves out, whether through Ayurveda or Allopathic medicine, we run into a fundamental truth that clean doesn’t exist.

What does clean mean to you? What does pure mean to you? Is anything in this world pure, by our tidy standards? All matter is matter, and made of previous matter. And what this led me to was realizing that my idea of “clean” and “pure” was keeping me from having pure experiences with what is. My body is my body, and I have a liver to remove toxins from my system. Bathing, dental hygiene, washing clothes, a neat house, these are all great things. Removing unhealthy food from the diet, if only for a time can be a great experience. But to reduce this practice to only the physical denies us rich opportunity to experience the present moment. As Deborah Adele says, we miss out when we impose our standard of “pure” and stop being with what is.

To me, this niyama means to be with what is. It means to stop letting my senses rule my thoughts, or at the very least to try. It means digging deep and asking “why”, finding out the intentions behind my actions. And last, it means returning my focus to the present moment, and accepting my body as it is, without trying to have my own definition of “pure” ruin it.