by Juan Villegas, E-RYT® 500
Saucha or Purity: The First Niyama
Saucha means purity, clearness of mind, speech and body. Saucha is one of the Niyamas of yoga and Niyamas can be interpreted to mean positive duties and observances. In the book “The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice” by Deborah Adele, she goes further with the concept of saucha by saying that we not only need to be pure in thoughts and words but also develop purity in relation to the things that we have no control of. She writes that:
‘Saucha asks us not only to seek purity in ourselves, but to seek purity with each moment by allowing it to be as it is. We are asked to be with life, with others, with things, with the day, with work, with the weather, as they are in the moment, not as we wish they were or think they should be or expect them to be.’
One way to understand this concept of saucha is that if students struggle with their flexibility or strength in a group yoga class, their confidence lowers and they begin comparing themselves with others in the room. They also begin to wish to have the strength of the person next to them. However if they apply the concept of saucha they can begin to realize that perhaps the person next to them has been doing postural yoga longer and that it takes time to be able to prepare the body for more advanced asana.
Saucha in my own life became apparent in understanding my learning style. For years I struggled with retaining information from anatomy books because the jargon is so extensive. Some people can retain information simply from reading and I wanted to be like them; however, I had to understand saucha in me and realize that I needed to stop trying to change the outcome and be ok with the situation. I am a visual-kinesthetic learner so I started to relate the words that I could not retain with pictures and drawings and the use of colours. I put things up on a wall so I could step back and see the big picture and suddenly everything made sense. Saucha cleared the way for a deeper understanding of myself.
Can you recall a situation where you connected with saucha and noticed a deep truth within yourself?