Saucha is the first Niyama of yoga, mentioned in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It can be translated as ‘purity’, ‘cleanliness’, and ‘clearness’. Saucha focuses on the purity of mind, speech, and body.
In this article, I will share with you how you can keep your mind, speech, and body pure, and how you can apply this Niyama to your daily life.
Saucha on Physical Level
When we talk about cleanliness at the body level, we mean not only the physical body but also everything that surrounds us physically: clothing, premises, personal belongings, work desk, etc.
The matter is to a certain extent a reflection of our inner state. For example, people who are not able to get rid of old things tend to live in the past.
If you look closely at the living space of any person, you can quite accurately determine what he is interested in, what his preferences are, what he lives by.
It often happens that a person’s worldview has changed but the external component – the house he lives in – still has the style, interior design objects, etc. that has a strong reflection of his old views. This contradiction of the internal and external can slow down his personal evolution and spiritual development. Therefore, it is important to monitor the correspondence of the external to the internal.
This can also happen in a reverse way. If you start changing the external component in correspondence to your future goal, your internal world will adjust to it. This is one of the main benefits of Feng Shui and Vastu – to help us create harmony and peace through external space.
Therefore, it’s good to start Saucha practice by decluttering, cleaning, and organizing your house. The cleanliness of your home will help you to develop the purity of your body and mind.
Purity of the Physical Body
According to Bhagavad Gita (Book 17), the purity of the body comes from the cleanliness of the body as well as from what one eats and drinks.
Thus, the purity of the physical body includes not only external purity but also the purity of internal organs and tissues. The yogic texts pay a lot of attention to this aspect. In order to get acquainted with this topic in more detail, we need to refer to the Shatkarmas.
The Shatkarmas are a set of Hatha yoga purification techniques that are used for the preparation of the physical body for the main work of yoga towards moksha. These practices, outlined by Svatmarama in the Haṭha Yoga Pradipiks as kriya, are:
- Neti – a nasal wash;
- Dhauti – the cleansing of the whole digestive tract;
- Nauli – a self-administered abdominal massage, using only the muscles of the abdominal wall;
- Basti – colonic irrigation;
- Kapalabhati – also called the breath of fire – is a steady repetition of forceful exhalations followed by slightly slower inhalations.
- Trataka – gazing at a fixed point such as a black spot or a candle flame.[.
Saucha on Speech Level
According to Bhagavad Gita, purity of speech comes from being truthful and through the use of words that are not injurious, hurtful, or distressing to others or self.
The purity of speech also includes the absence of profanity, abstinence from meaningless words, having a pleasant intonation, and the absence of excessive emotionality.
Pure speech is calm, full of meaning, pleasant, and understandable to anyone.
Oddly enough, but the practice of long silence (one day or more) is actually a very good tool for improving your speech. It’s due to the fact that when we are silent for a long time, we see that most situations do not require our comments, much is clear without words. Reading spiritual books and sacred texts aloud also contributes to the purification of speech.
Also, it’s very important to learn to recognize the cascade of negative emotions that prompt you to twist reality. Once you have understood and processed those emotions, your thoughts, speech, and actions can be realigned with the truth and inner wisdom. Outwardly, refrain from telling lies and speak with kindness, compassion, and clarity.
There is a beautiful Sufi saying:
“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself ‘Is it true?
At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?
At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?”
Saucha on Mind Level
According to Bhagavad Gita (Book 17), purity of thoughts comes from reflection, peace of mind, silence, calmness, gentleness, and purity of being.
Through the practice of mental purity, one attains the ability to be cheerful, to be one-pointed, to control the senses, and to see the self. Hence, it is clear that mental purity means refraining from negative, low-vibrational thoughts associated with toxic emotions such as anger, lust, condemnation, greed, etc. In addition, mental purity includes mindfulness.
You may well be familiar with the phrase ‘where attention goes, energy flows’, and this is one of the keys to unlocking the sometimes seemingly big door that stands between us and realization.
Thus, to practice mental purity, we need to occupy our own mind before it is diverted in an undesirable direction. Mantras are a great tool for this purpose. By focusing on the mantra, you’re directing your mind towards the Divine. No matter what kind of negativity is around, you can repeat the mantra to yourself in any place and at any time. Also, meditation with concentration is an excellent way to become more mindful.
Asana, Mantra, Mudra
Each Niyama has asana, mudra, and mantra that help you to accept and practice a niyama more effectively. Try practicing this asana, mudra, or mantra while thinking about Saucha.
The asana associated with Saucha is Legs Up the Wall or Viparita Karani:
- Sit on the floor and wiggle your seat as close as possible to the base of the wall.
- From there lie on your back and swing your legs up onto the wall with your feet toward the ceiling. The knees should be soft with zero tension in your hamstrings.
- Your legs will align directly above your hips. Your legs should feel weightless, your back relaxed, and maintaining the natural curves of the spine.
Stay here for 5-8 breaths or as long as necessary to relax, restore and cleanse the mind from distracting thoughts and toxic emotions.
This asana facilitates the drainage of the lymphatic system and helps purify the body while boosting your immune system.
The mantra associated with Saucha is Om Aim Hridayam Namaha.
Chant this beautiful mantra 108 times to focus on bringing awareness to, and then building heat to burn through, whatever blocks you from recognizing your true, unchanging, authentic, whole, Self.
The mudra associated with Saucha is Tattva mudra.
To perform this mudra, spin your palms open toward the ceiling and place your thumbs against your palms resting your thumb pads on the knuckle pad of your ring finger. Let your four fingers rest softly together.
This mudra symbolizes the true nature of our Self and helps us to realize that our authentic essence is unchanging, that we are, in our fundamental selves, pure and whole.
The Bottom Line
It is through purification that a person is transformed, both on the gross and subtle levels. Saucha practice makes the aura lighter and brighter. When your energy body starts vibrating on a higher level, the world around you starts vibrating in resonance with you.
Following Saucha, makes it easier to follow the rest of the vows, accelerates progress on the yoga path, and generally has a positive effect on the life of not only the practitioner himself but also his environment.