Saucha: The First Niyama
Jul 01, 2020 10:07AM
By Nicole Zornitzer
Saucha means purity of the body, mind and thoughts, and purity of action. When we meet each moment of life with integrity and an open heart, we invite saucha into our souls. When this occurs and our awareness expands to this concept, we ultimately engage in more authentic relationships with others as well as ourselves.
This act of cleansing the mind and physical body can take many forms in our daily life. There is the tangible idea of keeping the body cleansed through actions of physical activity (yoga, exercise, daily ayurvedic sadhanas). As we evolve, we can move to the intangible understanding of cleansing the mind and the soul. This act of cleansing the entire being prepares us for greatness of spirit and contentment in life.
Acts of cleansing vary from individual to individual. What one may find as blocking their productivity could be ensuring that their work space is kept tidy and free of clutter, however what others may view as preventing clarity could be a past fear or wound that has yet to be healed. What I have discovered is that the greatest act of saucha is having the ability to forgive myself and others for mistakes. By releasing anger or resentment and forgiving another human, we clear our energetic space and lighten the heaviness of heart.
Saucha is a journey into our heart and soul that is often difficult. When one gains the tools to address internal turmoil— to forgive and accept—one finds the truest form of saucha. One will begin to view each moment in life as a beautiful moment in its purest form. In yoga we discuss being in the present moment in every asana class. We encourage breathing techniques to bring us back to the present moment, we use specific playlists to cause us to feel pain or sorrow, we encourage addressing our scars of life, we want one to feel vulnerable. It is through this self-examination and connection to self that we evolve and understand why we are who we are, what our values are and what are connection to source is. We begin to live our lives fully by releasing the woes of our heart or expectations that are unattainable.
Saucha invites us to be in one place at one time. Being present in the moment asks that we slow down to become aware. We live in a society motivated by action yet sometimes the best place to be is exactly where we are—washing dishes, listening to birds chirp, watching your child play, standing in line at a market, enjoying a lovely meal with a friend, caring for a sick person, holding a yoga pose that is uncomfortable, relaxing in a yoga pose that is peaceful. These daily activities can and should be lived fully with an open heart that is present and a clear mind that is cognizant of the fact that this is life; the good, the not-so-good, the uncomfortable, the challenging, the sadness and the joy. Invite saucha into your personal space and prepare to live fully with eyes wide open and a heart that may hurt at times, but the knowledge that this same heart will learn and expand and move forward in the most fulfilling way possible. The power is within your grasp.
Nicole Zornitzer, ERYT 1000, yoga therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Studio in Randolph, New Jersey. NiyamaYogaStudio.com.