I have never been one that enjoys rules. During my teenage years I was above them, finding it difficult to understand my parent’s structure, as an early adult I ran from them taking refuge in the Forest where I thought I was out of reach of them. It took me two children to understand the importance of my parents discipline; it had prepared me to be part of the world, and to co-exist with respect and honor for myself and others. The Forest taught me immediately about universal law, and that even nature has a structure, a check and balance. I sometimes even forget my yoga practice is a discipline. Not because I forget to treat yoga like one, but because of how long I have been practicing yoga. One class a week in the beginning was good, but soon my body wanted more, two classes, practicing at home, studying, meditation, teaching, it was a natural progression. And when practiced correctly it always will be.
Often I reflect on the eight limbs of yoga, I experiment with the idea: Do we do them? Are they the natural progression or the process that occurs from doing yoga with discipline, and enthusiasm? And is this the truth in everything we do? Love. Family. Education. Work. When these experiences are done with commitment, they flourish. When being lazy, uninterested, and self serving, they are rarely in our reach. I remember when I felt these things in life were just not meant for me, but this wasn’t it at all. I had not yet committed to them.
The first Niyama (personal observances) is saucha. Saucha to be me is treating my body as a temple. Classic yoga text defines it as purity, and to me that always sounded like rules, and ones I wasn’t capable of following. Saucha is described as a way to achieve purity through practice of the five yamas of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, control of the sensual drive, and non-greed. Practicing these yamas is a cleansing process to clear away negative physical and mental states of being… and in turn, to achieve a “pure” state of being, a physical and mental state of being that is better prepared for higher states of consciousness.
I have not found purity as being my strongest practice. I just simply find myself making choices. Maybe its discipline, maybe it’s the affects of yoga, but I do asana to detoxify my body, I eat fresh healthy food because it feels good. I keep good hygiene because my body feels more awake and alive, but even more important for me I meditate to keep my mind as clear as possible, I cultivate positive ideas and enjoy my limitless imagination. These things help me stay centered, and in return clean.
Along my way I have found a few simple ways to weed out clutter and dirt from my life. I don’t call them rules but I do practice them daily, they are my commitments, my disciplines.
Be aware of my habits.
Such as eating habits, communication habits, habitual negative thoughts, all habits…In this way I bring attention and observe how I am feeling, how my body responds to these actions and also the karmic reaction to them.
Do not worry about the future.
The catastrophes I had anticipated rarely ever occurred.
Be aware of the situations in my life that cause me the most stress, and resolve them.
Of course we are affected by expectations of others, but I know longer allow them to control my life.
These three simple and personal saucha’s have allowed me to treat my body as a temple, my mind a servant of my heart, it has given me wellness, and with the regularity and the determination of daily practice, it doesn’t feel like a rule I have to follow but instead conscious living. I have never enjoyed going to extremes to practice more than I was capable to do at the time. Yoga to me has always been a way to relax, an effortless concentration, it helps me remove tension. These things come at their own time when I have a clean attitude. I encourage you to find your simple daily disciplines unique to your way of life. Awareness always brings a deeper authenticity to our yoga on and off the mat.
Favorite Saucha’s Yoga Practices:
- Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation)
- Pawanmuktasana Series 1 (Anti Rheumatic Group)
- Pawanmuktasana Series 2 (Digestive/Abdominal Group)
Shashankasana (hare/rabbit pose)
Tadasana (mountain pose)
Ardha Shalabhasana (half locust)
Paschimottanasana (back stretch/ seated forward bend)
Ardha Matsyendrasana (half spinal twist)
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (alternate nostril breathing)
Bhramari Pranayama (humming bee breath)