Sauca – Purity and Cleanliness
“SAUCAT SVANGA JUGUPSA PARAIR ASAMSARGAH”
“By purification arises disgust for one’s own body and for contact with other bodies”
“SATTVASUDDHI SAUMANASYAIKAGRYEN-DRIYAJAYATMADARSANA YOGYATVANI CA”
“Moreover, one gains purity of sattva, cheerfulness of mind, one pointedness, mastery over the senses and fitness for self realisation”
Sauca is the first of five Niyamas which is the second limb of Yoga. Niyamas refers to the practice of self discipline and inner observances and are intended to help us build resilience and personality. The first limb of Yoga, The Yama’s (moral guidelines and restraints to living in the world around us), helps us to prepare for these self discipline practices.
Sauca means purity and cleanliness both externally and internally, so Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness & honesty), Brahmacharya (Moderation, non excess) and Aparigraha (non-attachment), have helped us already prepare for Sauca.
Patanjali devoted two Sutra’s to Sauca. If we look at the translation of the first Sutra, it claims that through purification one gains disgust for ones own body and contact with other bodies. Deeper explanation is definitely required here because why would we want to gain disgust for our bodies? That’s hardly practicing self love and care right? So let’s take a look.
Patanjali is asking us to recognise all the disgusting things that our bodies do, like sweating and digesting therefore farting, burping, pooping peeing, mucus coming our of our noses, fighting bacteria and viruses etc. I’m sure you get the point! So it is required for us to wash and cleanse ourselves everyday, brush our teeth and hair, floss, practicing basic hygiene on a daily basis if not a couple of times at day. So the point of recognising all of the wonderfully glamorous things that our bodies do is to enable us to see that we are not our bodies, our body is a vessel in which we reside that we must take care of and love. If we can recognise that our body and everybody else’s bodies are constantly getting dirty and needing to be cleaned we can then see past the physical body to the actual being underneath the skin and instead of expressing love only through physical contact we can perhaps show love to all beings through friendship, compassion and kindness.
This Sutra asks us to love, care and respect our bodies, like you would your car or your home, You want to keep the engine running by fueling it correctly, the better the fuel and oil that you give it, the better it will function and the less trouble it will give you. When you value your car or your home you try to keep it as clean and as tidy as possible, we also want to value our bodies so we can function optimally and healthfully while recognising that it is only a temporary place of residence so we don’t attach ourselves to strongly to our physical appearance. After all the body ages and gets sick every once in a while but we still remain whole and pure underneath all of that. External cleanliness includes things like basic hygiene, fueling ourselves with nourishing, wholesome food, clean living and work space. Exercising to clean the toxins out of the body by sweating and practicing yoga are just a few examples.
Internal purity refers to our thoughts and inner beliefs.
The translation of the Sutra II:41 Moreover, one gains purity of sattva (goodness/purity), cheerfulness of mind, one pointedness, mastery over the senses and fitness for self realisation”
This part of Sauca helps us to gain control over the senses and to develop a sound mind. It helps us to focus our attention so we don’t feel so scattered. We develop an inner confidence so we can remove toxic thoughts like jealousy, conceit, resentfulness and anger to name a few. Our thoughts if we let them, can take over and become toxic and impure eventually causing problems with relationships, especially if you tend to over analyse situations, its best to clarify and clear the air as soon as possible so there’s no hard feelings floating around in the background.
The cleaner the body and the mind, the less the body has to work to eliminate the physical and emotional toxins that build up in the body, the less negative things we consume or listen to the happier and more positive we will become.
Examples of Practicing Sauca in your daily life:
Practice basic hygiene
Eating clean healthy food as often as possible
Limit the amount of toxins like sugar, alcohol and fast food that we consume
Keep a clean living and working space
Watching our negative thoughts, and see if you can spin them in a positive way or look at them differently
Practicing Sauca in Yoga
Simply practicing Asana (yoga poses) helps to clean and purify the body. It stimulates circulation of blood and lymph fluid throughout the body. Practicing Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations) helps to increase the heart rate and gets the body warm, when we create heat in our practice we are burning away impurities.
Twists are great for detoxifying the body so they are very helpful for cleansing the body. Balance poses are also a great compliment to a Sauca practice as they help us to focus our drishti (gaze point) on one spot, therefore gaining control over our senses.
Cleansing breath practices include Kalabati breath (breath of fire) this breath can help to cleanse and detoxify the body by creating heat internally. Kalabati is an advanced breath is not recommended for pregnancy, or for people with hernia, prolapse or asthma and is not recommended if you have a full stomach. A more accessible cleansing breath is Ujjayi Breath (victorious or oceanic breath) or simply taking a deep nourishing inhale and slightly longer exhale can help to calm the mind.
Mantra’s can also be a nice way to practice Sauca. Throughout the practice you can remind yourself “I am not the body, I am not the mind”. Singing bowls and sound baths can be a wonderful way to clear and cleanse the body through vibration
SAUCA IN ASANA
Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana – Revolved Wide Legged Forward Fold
Parivrtta – Revolved
Prasarita – Spread out or Expanded
Pada – Foot
Tan – To Stretch
Asana – Pose
Level: Beginners to Intermediate
Parivrtta Parsarita Padottanasana is a calming yoga twist that helps to elongate and open the whole body. The twist compresses and then releases the organs of the digestive system, therefore creating a massaging and toning effect on the abdominal organs including the liver, kidneys and spleen improving their capability to release toxins from the body.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Calms the mind
Relieves tension anxiety and stress
Opens and balances the Root Chakra (grounding and stabilizing mentally), Sacral Chakra (creativity centre) and the Throat Chakra (authentic expression and clear communication)
Stretches and strengthens the hamstrings, thighs and calf muscles
Stretches the upper body and shoulders
Stretches and releases the spinal muscles
Can help to relieve mild depression
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS
Current injury in the knees, hips, shoulders, neck, ribs or back
Recent surgery of neck, shoulders, abdomen or legs
Currently experiencing low blood pressure, migraines or vertigo
Can aggravate sciatica – if you find any discomfort in the sciatic area undo the twist and keep both hands on the f
Those with neck injuries should keep looking down to the floor and resist the urge to turn the head up
HINTS & TIPS
If the floor is to far away place a block underneath your hand
If hamstrings are tight bend your knees so you can keep length in the spine
If shoulders are restricted you can keep your top hand on your hip
If you have a herniated disc or recent abdominal surgery leave out the twist