Did you have an opportunity to ‘spring clean’ yet? Have the warmer sunny days left you feeling scattered or mind-cluttered? Do you feel stuck in a loop or unable to shift emotional or physical stagnation or blockages? Whether or not this seems true for you, June is an ideal month to explore what it would feel like to cultivate Saucha. In this month’s yoga journey we’re working with this first of the 5 Niyamas (personal practices that relate to our inner world and help keep us honest with ourselves). Saucha translates as Purity, Cleanliness and Simplicity and what better time to focus on the practice of Saucha as we transition from Spring to Summer!
Here are some simple ideas and practices for cultivating Saucha:
De-clutter your space, de-clutter your mind.
Observe the relationship you have to your home and/or work spaces. Are they in need of a tidy up, a deep clean or a complete overhaul and re-do? Notice the link between the way you perceive your space and the degree of calm or chaos you feel when you’re in that space.
Do Decide what needs to change in your physical space in order to simplify & feel more calm and clear. Is it a deep clean, a rearranging of objects or furniture, a recycling of goods or a simple tidy that’s called for? Once you’ve decided on the what, when and how you’ll tackle the first step in simplifying your space..
Practice Sit in stillness for 5 minutes with Apan Mudra (rest tops of hands on legs, thumbs touch ring and middle fingernails, pinkies and index fingers are free) Feel your spine lengthen with each slow breath in and out your nose as you envision the space you intend to create. With each new breath, your vision of the simplicity of your space and ease with which you’ll create it, grows more and more alive within you. Do as often as needed for each new step you take in purifying your space.
Negativity shuts us off from ease, clarity & kindness.
Observe how actions follow thoughts. When thoughts are negative we have less capacity for kindness toward ourselves and others.
Do Find a space of your own to sit in a chair, on a cushion, or lay down and set a timer for 3-10 minutes with the intention of quieting the mind.
Practice Try a Purification Practice by bringing your awareness to your breathing and once you’ve found a slow smooth rhythm, begin to deepen your breath. On each inhalation, expand your awareness to invite purity and light into every cell of your being. On every exhale, consciously breathe out negativity and heaviness. Continue this practice until your timer dings, or until you feel lighter, whichever comes first.
Habit into ritual, routine into mindfulness.
Observe your morning routine. What’s the first, second, third thing you do upon awakening? Is it habit? Ask yourself, “Is it serving me?” Observe ways in which the routine is and isn’t serving you.
Do Decide to turn one or all of these routines or habits into rituals. Do you need a special space or place in your home or outside for your new ritual? Create that space or add a special object or decoration to an already designated place so that it welcomes you in, reminding you of your ritual.
Practice Mindfulness as you undertake these simple morning tasks. Brushing teeth, washing body with a newfound curiosity and interest is mindfulness. Create and practice a ritual at the same time every day for set amount of time. 3, 10 or even 20 minutes in the space/s you’ve designated as sacred, ritual space.
One of my favorite rituals during this time of year and throughout the summer months is a nightly foot cleansing. Because I wear sandals or go barefoot so frequently during this time of year, I have a ritual around caring for my feet. Every night before bed I sit on the edge of my bathtub and wash my feet with a lovely scented natural soap and cotton washcloth. Sometimes, I’ll also cleanse with a scrub brush. It’s a simple, satisfying ritual that brings me joy and makes me feel so clean! A great feeling to begin a restful night’s sleep.
Begin to notice other areas of your life where you could invite this practice of Saucha. Observe what foods help you sustain energy, lighten your step and motivate you, and which foods do the opposite. Notice what forms of media serve you best and how much time you spend with media. If you find your choices depelte you, or weigh heavily, could you spend less time on that which causes this mild suffering? Do some friends lift you up and others bring you down? How may you create boundaries around your time so you are serving your best, most honest Self?
Qualities of Saucha: simplicity, clarity, emotional levity, purity, cleanliness, knowing the self, acknowledgement of the purity within our heart.
“Through simplicity and continual refinement (Saucha) the body, thoughts and emotions become clear reflections of the Self within” -Nischala Joy Devi
Happy Saucha Month Yogis! ?