Welcome to March at Tranquil Space. While sharing my understanding of practicing the yamas and niyamas at Friday’s “Living your Yoga” 21-day challenge finale, we discussed saucha. Saucha is a niyama (lifestyle observance) translated as clarity, purity, or cleanliness and relates to our thoughts, words, and actions. As you may know, the juicy yamas and niyamas are the first two limbs of the 8-limb yoga path – strategically placed before asana (the physical poses we practice on our colorful non-slip mats).
Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well. – Gandhi
When discussing the many modern day life ways we can practice these 10 foundational yamas and niymas, I love exploring how applicable they are in our daily decision making. Ranging from what to eat, to how to communicate, to how to spend our time. Yes, big and profound to tiny and mundane decisions!
My favorite yoga mantra lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu sums up the practice of yoga beautifully, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” That is the practice of yoga! Sure, that beautiful triangle pose is part of it, but it’s really how we live our lives and the yamas and niyamas give us the tools.
Saucha has always been a favorite of mine for reflection and as we move into the spring season (have you noticed how excited the birds have been about this recently? chirp, chirp, chirp), it felt perfect for this month’s muse. Spring encourages cleaning out closets, detoxing, shedding the weight (literally and figuratively) of winter. Why not let saucha be your guide?
Notice how you feel when your body is filled with greens and whole grains versus pizza and ice cream? Observe the difference when your desk is organized versus papers and tea cups strewn about? Pay attention to your heart rate and sensations in your chest center when your mind feels focused as opposed to monkey-like.
According to author and psychotherapist Stephen Cope, “For me, saucha means both physical and mental hygiene. You want to keep your thoughts uncluttered so you can feel free from afflictive emotions; you keep your body and environment in order, to create a sense of calm.” How can you find a sense of tranquility in your physical and mental space? Can you replace soda with water? shift hours of reality TV watching or Facebook updating with mindfulness reading? Change moments of doing into a sprinkling of being? Reframe quick, terse email replies with thoughtful, clear ones?
Explore your daily habits over this next month and notice what small, sauchic shifts you can make to create a lifestyle that aligns with your values. Your body and mind, along with family and friends will be grateful. May this new month and upcoming fresh season offer you moments of mindful tranquility. Namaste.