Moving on from the first limb, of 8, to the second limb of which is Niyama – 5 practices that deal with our personal code of conduct within the world. These are disciplines which, when practiced mindfully and compassionately, will lead to a deeper state of being. To practice these reveals your Truth, and strips back all the crap that we think is us.
Yoga Sutra 2.41 sattva shuddhi saumanasya ekagra indriya-jaya atma darshana yogyatvani cha
“through cleanliness and purity of body and mind (saucha) comes a purification of the subtle mental essence (sattva), a pleasantness, goodness and gladness of feeling, a one-pointedness with intentness, the conquest or mastery over the senses, and a fitness, qualification, or capability for self-realization.” Swami Jnaneshvara
I consider Saucha as purity in all aspects of the self, including body, mind, spirit. I do not practice Yoga for a good body. I do not get up at 4:30am on my mornings off and drive to Byron Bay to be with my teacher so I can do amazing postures. I practice Yoga because each and every time I go through the movements, the breath work, the inner work, I am constantly changing. I feel that as time goes on I am able to let go of my past aberrations, all the wrong I have done, all the things I used to feel anxiety over and regret, they are all dropping away revealing a calm under layer. Each time I sweat, take my body into odd shapes and am able to breath fluidly, I feel myself stepping closer to my truth, closer to living an authentic live. Yoga is not about the body, while the body will become pure and clean through the process, it is about the mind and calming it the fuck down.
There are many practices to Yoga beyond Asana (Postures), including cleansing techniques, breathing rhythms and sitting in Meditation, and all of these steps are a form of purification. On some level we all need to be cleansed of the past, whether it be something we have said or done, or just as often what has been said or done to us, it is essential to let go so we may progress in all aspects of ourselves and feel a sense of contentment in this moment.
Saucha is not only based on past, but on present habits which are not serving us. As human beings we are suffer daily from craving and eversion, we love pleasure and do not like pain and discomfort. This leads to some habits which are far from pure, and tend to drag us down in one way or another. With consistent practice, a deep mindfulness emerges, and we are able to see our habits for what they are – fleeting moments of joy, leading to a sense of disconnection.
This is not an easy step along the path of Yoga, but then when did anything easy ever serve us long term?