Saucha is the Sanskrit word for cleanliness and refers to purity & clarity on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual plane The physical aspect bahir saucha – outer purity – includes not only keeping one’s body pure, but also all all objects and the environment around us. To create a clean, orderly home and work or leisure space, where one can feel comfortable, retreat, be visionary and meditate, is just the same part of this form of saucha. This also means to take care of material objects, to keep them in order and in good condition.
The Yoga Studio is about carefully placing your personal belongings (not just throwing the shoes anywhere for example, but placing them mindfully to create a clear space), cleaning the mat and bringing the Yoga Props back with attention the way we found them. A famous yoga teacher in Australia once said to me: “The way your mat looks like and the way you take care of it, thats the way your life and mind looks like!” The way it looks outside around us, mirrors the way it looks inside us and vice versa? If our environment is orderly and clean, are our thoughts clear? B.K.S. Iyengar goes even further here with his famous saying:
“Your body is your temple, keep it clean for your soul to reside in.”
The renown yoga teacher clearly teaches us, that this outer cleanliness not only keeps our body and thoughts healthy, but ultimately even our soul – the inhabitant of our temple.
Bahir saucha, the external cleanliness, of course as well pertains to obvious actions, such as taking a regular shower (especially before the yoga practice in the studio, to please not only ourselves, but also our mat neighbors), grooming hair & nails, brushing teeth and smelling good. It also means avoiding those activities that contaminate the body, such as poisoning ourselves with bad food and substances like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. If we go even deeper here, special cleansing & detoxification techniques and fasting may support us in our detox journey. Yoga also offers us deeper levels of cleansing through the Shat Kriyas (shat=6, kriya=the act) – the 6 yogic purification techniques.
Antah saucha– inner purification – speaks more so of the purity of the mind, in which one meets everything and everyone with benevolence, kindness and compassion, and practices seeing Brahman, the Higher Self, in everything. By practicing these two aspects of saucha, the experience described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.40 arises:
“saucat svangajugupsa pariah asamsargah”
The purification of body and mind develops non-interest in coming into contact with others
only for the sake of self-satisfaction.”
Instead of identifying with the body and using it to find material success and recognition, the body is seen as a vehicle for the journey on the spiritual path. The body is therefore kept healthy to transport us safely, perseveringly and clearly. Another result of saucha is described in Sutra 2.41:
“sattvasuddhi saumanasya aikagrya indriyajaya atmadarsana yogyatvani ca”
“Purification also results in clarity of mind, serenity, focus on one point, sense control
and sets the conditions for self-realization.”
Join in! Be inspired to clear out the closet this spring, sweat at the Detox Bootcamp, try a celery juice or maybe even go on the journey of our 40 day Spring Cleanse and see how you can be and feel your best! Be daring!
We look forward to seeing you practice in the fresh spring wind together online!
written by Beate McLatchie