Have you had a chance to think about Saucha — and apply it to your life this past week?
Saucha, the first Niyama, is all about how we should take care of ourselves.
This means keeping things clean and uncluttered.
This concept is valid for what is external to us and surrounds us (our physical environment, our relationships, etc.), for our body, but also for our thoughts and mind.
As always, to better understand the nuances of these principles, you can start from what is in your complete control, always available from the first day of life: your body.
It is important to take care of your body first, even before moving on to practice on the mat.
Without necessarily following the various (sometimes really strange!) cleaning instructions in full, suggested in classical texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika…
Just a daily routine of body cleansing that you can do with intention and a sincere attitude of self-care.
Try to really take care of your body, as also B.K.S. Iyengar says…
“The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.”
And if it is hard for you to think about it, now I want you to imagine…
Would Buddhist monks ever meditate in a dirty, dusty temple?
Of course, not! There is always someone to keep that sacred place clean and welcoming every day.
Similarly, you can do the same with your body before you approach your self-practice.
Having also a clean mat to practice on shows a sign of respect towards this discipline.
Having said that, here’s the question…
How can you cultivate Saucha on your mat?
There is one keyword to answer this, which is… fire.
Fire is what not only keeps you alive but also purifies you, burning away all that is superfluous and unnecessary.
Agni, according to Ayurveda, is our inner fire, or digestive fire.
It’s a fire that helps us to burn through emotions that we no longer need, helps us to burn through physical tension, to metabolize our food so we have the energy to live our life fully.
Not only that: Agni is the force of intelligence within each cell, each tissue, and every system within the body.
If we do not keep this Fire healthy, it will be difficult to maintain a clear and pure mind and spirit.
This is why we start with the body and the asanas, to explore this particular Niyama.
In today’s practice, you will explore different asanas that will warm and activate your inner and purifying fire.
As you can see from the image above, this is a warming practice based around the Sun Salutation, targeting the core to bring awareness to this space in your body (where Agni is located).
Plus, the twists in the 4th rowstimulate blood circulation and release tension in the abdomen, with a strong detoxifying effect (remember to repeat it twice!).
The inverted poses are effective cleansers as well.
Remember that our body is 70-80% water…
When we turn the body upside down, we stimulate circulation from inside out, stirring up the stagnant rivers throughout the body.
Some suggestions and tips to better integrate Saucha in your asana practice:
Try to practice in a place where the temperature is warm enough (you don’t have necessarily to lock yourself in a high-temperature room, Bikram style).
This month is definitely the best time to apply these tips, as the temperature tends to be higher than in other months of the year.
Practice with a high level of mindfulness, slow the speed if necessary.
Eventually, stay more in the poses you tend to overlook, such as down dog, which you do all the time and frequently. Check out during that pose.
This is also a reminder for you to create a ritual even from the mundane things that you do every day…
Let me know how your experience goes in our Facebook Group or by replying to this email if you’d like more personal advice! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!