A bit of purity
Saucat svangajugpsa appears asamsargah
The purity of the body leads us to be detached from our bodies and those of others
Yoga Sutras, aphorism II.40
Sattvasuddhi saumanasya aikagrya indriyajaya atmadarsana yogytvani ca
Once purified the joy, the concentration of the mind, the control of the senses and the possibility of realizing the Self are born.
Yoga Sutras, aphorism II.41
The goal of the path of yoga is to make it possible for the practitioner to find a well deserved serenity and balance. For this reason, Patanjali thinks that we should apply certain principles to find harmony with the world around us, principles called the yamas (cf our previous articles).
He also believes that we should apply principles to ourselves, called the niyamas.
The importance of cleanliness
The first of these niyamas is sauca, which translates into cleanliness or purity.
Its importance is reflected by the fact that Patanjali gave it the first place among the niyamas, but also by the fact that he devotes 2 aphorisms (see above) to this principle.
The importance of cleanliness was then enshrined in the text of the 15th century Hatha Yoga Pradipika which describes the 6 shatkarma or purification techniques which are neti (nasal cleansing), dhauti (cleaning the digestive tract in particular), nauli (cleaning of the digestive system by massage), bhasti (cleansing of the large intestine and the colon), kappalbhati (cleaning of the sinuses in particular) and trataka (cleaning of the eyes by a meditation while looking at a candle).
Note that when Patanjali talks about cleaning, it is obviously about the external (clean regularly) and internal body (for example by eating food that has the least pesticides or additives), but also about the spirit (freeing oneself from neg'ative emotions such as hatred, jealousy or anger) and thinking (breaking out of obsolete thoughts’ patterns).
Cleanliness before postures
According to Patanjali, yamas and niyamas must be applied before practicing asanas (postures) and pranayamas (breathing exercises). There is a good reason for this: the practice of asanas and pranayamas serves to :
purify the lungs and nerves
oxygenate the blood,
generate our vital energy.
If we practice asanas and pranayamas without applying sauca beforehand, we could generate a bad energy in our body and mind. In addition, our practice will be less effective at the level of purification sought because the body, mind and thoughts have not been prepared.
How to practice sauca?
Clean your body
It is obvious that the practices of shatkarmas can be frightening and inaccessible (besides, for some they should not be practiced without a master), but some gestures can be applied every day easily to clean our body: take a shower, clean your nostrils with salt water or brush your teeth (or your tongue).
The less food you eat that is difficult to digest or contains preservatives, pesticides, or other additives, the less it will be difficult for your body to get rid of toxins. It will therefore use less of your vital energy and you will store less.
Clean your house
It is often said that our interior reflects our state of mind. So put away, clean, sort, organize and your mind will be purified.
This is also true for your yoga space: a clean mat (less foot smells!) and a clean space (unobstructed by objects and ventilated) allow to focus fully on your practice and not to have your mind parasitized by thoughts.
Yes, we always come back to this famous positivism!
By practicing sauca we aim to turn our emotions and thoughts towards what is good. By doing this, little by little, we are getting away from our negative emotions and thoughts and it changes our perception of ourselves, but also of what surrounds us, because "where the attention goes, the energy goes "(James Redfield).
In fact, applying sauca is a bit like polishing a stone and discovering its beauty.
Once the body is clean, the mind purified and the thought mastered, you will reach the first quality of the spirit, the joy. You can then concentrate on your practice and master your senses to discover what is called the Self. A nice promise, isn’t it?