In ancient yoga philosophy there are a set of principles inspiring keen yogis to lead a life full of goodness to benefit both mental and physical wellbeing. In the western world, yoga and the intention in which people practice it, has changed. This doesn't mean the principles and their meanings are void, however, in-fact the meanings and contexts in which these relate can be adapted to suit a modern yogi lifestyle.
The previous blog post explored Ahimsa and how listening to your body on the mat is a skill that will help you get the most out of the practice in a way that suits you, rather than a one-size fits all approach. It's also a skill to explore in everyday life, too.
Another principle, to be discussed in this blog post, relates to cleanliness of mind, body and environment, it's called Saucha and in ancient yoga philosophy it was practiced through various cleansing techniques to cleanse the body, amongst other things. Please read here for more information. In our modern yogi life, as well as relating to keeping your yoga space clean and tidy, as well as looking after your physical wellbeing through cleanliness and diet, it can relate to harnessing a more focused physical practice, brimming with intention and purpose. All the good ingredients to help you feel good from yoga! See below for a few tips about how to practice it:
Tips to Practice Saucha on the Mat
Avoid clutter in your yoga space, place any items to the side if you’re in a class (especially those metal water bottles!) or if you are at home maybe have a quick spruce before starting
If you’re in a class, placing items to one side won’t only help with clutter, it will also reduce distractions. If you feel comfortable, close your eyes to avoid watching others and if you’re at home, turn the television off and create a calming space free of other people and technology
Set a clear intention for your practice. If it’s not possible to set this for each time on the mat then perhaps before starting yoga altogether, think about what it is you want to get from it. Or, set a few intentions for following practices to come, to help yourself come to the mat, prepared with a clear sense of purpose. The intention could be in the form of a sentence to repeat, such as: 'I am taking it slow, I am taking it steady.'
Do any of these sound like things you already do? You could be practicing Saucha when doing yoga and not even realise you’re engaging with ancient yogic philosophy!
Saucha Off the Mat
Think of some ways in which you could practice Saucha off the mat? Perhaps there's activities, rituals or routines you do already that help bring this sense of focus and intention?
Pose Spotlight: Sun Salutations:
Sun Salutations are great way to practice this principle. The flow can be practiced at any time of day, however, my personal favourite is first thing in the morning. This is because I am often the most stiff then and the sequence increases blood flow, enables you to breathe deeply and starts to mobilise, stretch and strengthen the body. It’s meditative, too, meaning you’ll be cleansing your mind and body before the fast-paced day sets in.
To read more about ancient yoga philosophy and principles guiding yogis in life, please read previous blog post about Ahimsa (non-harming).