The Yamas and Niyamas, are the first two of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of yoga and are a nexus that work as the foundation of the yogic lifestyle. Both are a support system for one another and act as a guideline for yoga living. The Yamas—Sanskrit word for restraint followed by the practice of nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, and non-possessiveness—work in conjunction with the Niyamas—Sanskrit word for observances, including the practice of purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender.

When we choose to make yoga our lifestyle, we get to learn the integration of these two jewels before the commencement of the asanas (physical poses). We learn to understand the significance with this holistic self-practice.

When we do self-assessment, self-reflection, there’s a lot that may show up in our behavior, but it’s no surprise…we are only human. We may notice how our reaction to people and situations may be a result of a conglomeration of emotions and thoughts from our experiences. Some of our reactions are contained, while others are spoken or spewed loudly.

Because of our human being-ness we may have become accustomed to operating from a place of judgment, resentment, anxiety, and fear, making it easy to stay in a space of recycled thoughts and reactions. However, when we develop the practice of saucha (purification) our whole life experience we once knew becomes one big shift to vibrant health, joy, peace, and light. It all begins with our dietary lifestyle.

Saucha is an open invitation to considering the process of purification—not only by way of physical practices—keeping the body clean, commencing with an organic ayurvedic pulling oil, like Daily Swish from Banyan Botanicals. You put a teaspoon of oil in your mouth and swish it around for 3–5 minutes, ejecting it into a receptacle, using a tongue scraper before brushing your teeth, and being cognizant of a healthier option for the toothpaste you use such as a fluoride free toothpaste. Breath practices are also purifying. The benefits of Kapalabhati are very effective. It clears the mind and is an aid in cleaning the Nadis, the channel that carries prana (life force), air, water, and flows through the physical body. This breath practice burns out excess mucus that causes sinus irritation and allergies. In addition, it stimulates the digestive organs.

Finding or creating a sacred space in your home to practice three rounds of Kappalabhati (Rapid abdominal breath) is imperative for purification. You sit in comfortable clothing in a meditative sukasana pose (The Easy Pose) cross-legged on a mat or folded blanket with feet under the opposite thigh. Keeping your spine erect but not stiff and drawing your shoulders back and down…relaxed. This is in preparation for breath practice. This can also be done on a chair. You would do 10–15 expulsions for each round commencing with a full exhalation, drawing the abdomen in, followed by a deep inhalation and exhaling with control by forcing the air out through the nose. The air comes back in through the nose automatically. Return the breath to a normal pattern. This breath practice is repeated—counting the expulsions for each round. You may want to burn a candle to enhance the feeling of peace, or it can be used as a Kriya—a completed action in meditation. Meditation is a cleansing action. The candlelight meditation may work as an aid in enabling you to focus more, improving attention span and memory, thus making it easier to feel relaxed. Another kind of purification of the body is the focus of your senses. You can do a daily nasal cleansing with a Neti pot, to clean your sinus cavity and use nasal oil drops to lubricate and clean your nose. You can use an ear oil to cleanse the ears, and an eye rinse for the eyes. Lastly, ingesting clean food with minimal ingredients is another form of purifying the body.

In addition, purifying your environment is just as important. The act of purifying the home is keeping a decluttered and clean abode. This is a segway to avoiding a scattered and cluttered mind. It’s purifying the home from years of collecting for some and decades of hoarding for others. It’s creating space to both breathe better and take ownership of a healthier mind. The practice of nonattachment is effective in preventing clutter and hoarding. It is releasing what you no longer use or need in the form of giving it away, selling it, or simply getting rid of it. It’s realizing that less is more. For example, we only have two feet, so why have a collection of sneakers or shoes? Two arms, so why have a collection of purses? Collections are excessive and before you know it you feel scattered and have trouble focusing. The practice of Saucha (purification) brings about an uplifting and joyous feeling to the whole body (mind, body, breath, and spirit). Living a life of purification is indicative that you have respect for yourself and your home.

It is continuously ridding oneself of unclean thoughts that stir up negative emotions that may often lead to unbalanced reactions. Saucha leaves the door open to procuring the purpose of all you do without doubt or hesitation.

We live in an environmental maze that also acts as a shadow, a cloud that hovers over us, showing up everywhere we go. Saucha invites us to do a street sweep, if you will, cleaning and clearing both aspects of our life—commencing with our secondary dietary lifestyle—that being our health, home environment, relationships, home cooking, physical activity, spirituality, creativity, work, social life, education, finances, and joy, followed by our microbiome dietary lifestyle. All aspects of our lifestyle are a domino effect. It only takes one imbalance in any aspect of our life to change the dynamics and result in either a positive or negative way.

The good news is we get to exfoliate and do an in-depth excavation of our life. When we make it a priority, we make the time for it and reap the rewards of living in a state of purity and liberty.

About the Author

Elizabeth Sostre

Elizabeth Sostre

Elizabeth Sostre returned to her love for yoga and writing during the time she took ill with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, in 2009. Upon learning she could not return to her career as an educator for the Department of Education, she took time to rediscover herself. As she continued her new journey, she developed interest in several healing modalities, which led her to becoming a Reiki master, yoga teacher, yoga/wellness retreat coordinator, life and holistic health coach, and a transformational trainer. She wrote her first workshop, “Living Towards Wholeness” in 2019, which she continues to facilitate and promote, as her belief is that personal growth is born through the process of both spiritual and transformative work, springing one into a state of awareness, breakthrough, and application. Her vision for the world is connection – to connect in a space of respect, love, compassion, and peace. She has a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing and went to Graduate school for Clinical Counseling. Liz is currently writing a book, Deconstructing Your Past To Live In The Present.


1 Comment

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    Thank you Liz for a thoughtful commentary on Saucha.
    Rev Shankar


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