The Limbs of Yoga: Cleanliness
Self Discipline (Niyamas)
The Niyamas are the second component of the 8 limbs of Yoga. As yogi and prolific writer on yogic philosophy Georg Feuerstein, once said, the Niyamas are how you behave when no one is looking. There are 5 Niyamas, and when combined with the self discipline in our conduct with the ‘outside world’ they represent a foundation from which to proceed along embedding the remaining seven limbs of yoga into our holistic practice.
Cleanliness (Sauca) is cleanliness of the body, mind and environment. Purity of everything that passes through all channels, mouth, ears, eyes and mind. Practicing yoga increases healthy behaviors and reduces unhealthy ones, allowing us to purify ourselves. As Ram Dass would describe it, this is where we clean the dust off the mirror of our selves so our true nature of self can be revealled. Hatha Yoga prescribes many practices for purification of the internal body, from fasting, neti pot cleansing, salt water purging, to the full nauli practice. These are physical and quite advanced practices, and there are other subtle ways that we can cleanse our minds and our body will follow.
It is our minds that need to be tamed, cleaned of their grasping and attachment to sense pleasures, and then situated in the present. Think of your mind as a work surface. If you are struggling to find space with piles of mess around you, it is going to be much harder to sit down and focus on the task at hand. It stands to reason then, that what goes in the mind is going to add to the clutter. What are you consuming that isn’t pointing your needle in the direction of a life that is more yogic, more calm and content, more loving and compassionate. Gossip mags or chatter? Social Media? Endless meaningless content being poured into your mind stops you sitting and listening for the work that needs to be done, the hard often painful work of letting go and accepting who you are. This week, make quiet time that you fill only with your wild thoughts, and start to clean out your mind.