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How to incorporate the first Niyamas Shaucha (cleanliness) into your life.

NOTE If you just landed on this article please read the first article in this series first:

What can an ancient text called the Yoga Sutras do for you?


This article includes a short introduction to the concept of Shaucha + journal prompts and practical and easy ways to incorporate the concept into your life.


NIYAMAS – The inner ethical rules.

(Yoga Sutra II.32)


Niyamas is the second limb in the 8 limbs of Astanga Yoga. Ni means inwards or within and Yamas means restraint = as in holding back or trying to stop doing.


The Niyamas are 5 ethical principles for moral conduct and for how you treat yourself. They focus on daily activities, actions, your attitude, and communication. By working with the 5 principles, you work with the areas that can contribute to increase your sense of joy and happiness.


The 5 principles are: cleanliness (saucha), contentment (santosha), discipline (tapas), self-study (swadhyaya) and surrender (ishvara pranidhana).


The principles of internal awareness and attention are suggestions for how you can relate to yourself. The purpose is to create a healthy inner environment that will help enable you to live a life of the highest quality and achieve your potential. By trying to live by them, you are helping to pave the way for personal growth.



woman s feet in a bath



Shaucha – cleanliness, the first Niyamas

(Yoga Sutra II 40)


The first Niyamas is Shaucha cleanliness. This is all about keeping yourself clean, in every area of your life - body, mind, actions, words, behaviors, and spirit.


Saucha has two dimensions. The first dimension is external cleanliness - you know this from taking your morning shower or washing your hands. The second dimension is inner cleanliness and purity of mind, like healthy thoughts and emotions.


Practicing Shaucha means keeping your body and mind clean, eating pure and healthy food, maintaining a clean living environment, and also working towards cleanliness of thoughts and emotions. This involves cultivating positive thoughts, kindness, and compassion, and reducing negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and greed.


It is about creating a harmonious inner and outer environment for yourself, which will enable you to deepen your spiritual practice and create a more peaceful, focused mind. By reducing physical clutter and distractions, as well as mental and emotional disturbances, you can more easily work towards a state of dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation), moving closer to samadhi (surrender/enlightenment).


Shaucha encourages mindfulness in all daily activities, leading to a more conscious way of living that respects the body and mind and improves overall health.


Practical steps when working with Shaucha.


Applying Shaucha to the practice of yoga and any kind of physical exercise.


  • Keep your yoga or training gear clean.
  • Approach your training with a clean and open mind.
  • Take a bath before attending a yoga class - and after any exercise practice.
  • Keep your exercise space clean and tidy.
  • Engage in training types that are healthy and supportive of you.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated after practice.


Applying Shaucha to your life.


  • Buy good healthy products in the supermarket.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day.
  • Keep your body healthy, and well-nourished, without the use of stimulants or drugs.
  • Keep a clean and tidy environment.
  • Take a regular bath and wear clean clothes.
  • Practice mindfulness to become aware of your thought patterns.
  • Work with negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and greed.
  • Be mindful of your media and information consumption.
  • Incorporate practices like mindfulness, meditation, yoga journaling, and spending time in nature into your life


Pages from The quick guide to the yoga sutrasGrab the Quick Guide to The Yoga Sutras 8 Limbs of Yoga


Important self-investigation.


Shaucha is very much about protecting not only yourself but also the land, water, and air, our children's innocence, and our compassion and courage. It extends to taking care of all areas where living your life can affect yourself, others, and the environment, making sure you uphold a clean approach to all of them.


While the concept of cleaning in the physical space seems straightforward, think of all the other ways you can achieve a cleaner and healthier life. Cleaning the mind of disturbing thoughts and feelings such as; hatred, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride to create a clear and focused mind is one of the most important actions.


So, consider this, when you do something can you easily maintain a lightness of heart, and joy, and not become over-critical, and angry? And when you are cleaning yourself, are you doing this to maintain an external image, or are you doing it out of respect for yourself?


Feeling resentment and other negative emotions in your mind acts like toxins in your body, creating adrenaline that taxes your nervous system. Negative emotions create stagnation and distractions that hide the present moment from you.


To create a more present life, and a purer body and mind start by imagining the life you would like to live. Your imagination is a gift, and it is vital for your ability to imagine a different and better world. But how can you move from thinking to doing, and create more simplicity in your life? What is the good life to you? You might know how you would not like to live, but how would you like to live?


Contemplation and Journal prompts on Shaucha.


  1. How does your physical environment (home, workspace) affect you? What steps can you take to improve it?
  2. How clean and nourishing is your diet? What changes can you make to consume more wholesome, energy-giving foods?
  3. What possessions do you have that you no longer use or need? How can letting go of these items help create more space and clarity in your life?
  4. How does what you see and hear in the news, the media, and conversations affect your inner state?
  5. What negative emotions do you sometimes have? How can you work with these emotions in a healthy way?
  6. What practices help you cultivate positive thoughts and gratitude? How can you incorporate more of that?
  7. How can practicing Shaucha help you achieve your goals for well-being and spiritual growth?
  8. What challenges do you face in practicing Shaucha, and how can you overcome these challenges?
  9. Are there areas in your life, besides your physical environment, where you can apply the practice of Shaucha (thoughts, actions, behaviors)?
  10. Is there anywhere you can add the concept of Shausha to your local community and environment?



Ready to take the next step - Santhosha!


ipad Book cover The quick guide to the yoga sutrasGrab the Quick Guide to The Yoga Sutras 8 Limbs of Yoga

Disclaimer

The information found in this blog post is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for a health professional's advice. If you are struggling with health issues please seek professional help. The use of any information provided in this blog post is solely at your own risk.


Author Mette Rosenqvist


she/her

With 10 years of supporting women release and manage emotional and physical pain to achieve optimal health, Mette is the seasoned coach and blogger behind MeRoyoga, a Holistic Health website. Dedicated to empowering women of all ages and backgrounds, her work is based on cultivating mind-body awareness and self-regulation through compassionate inquiry. As a Multi passionate coach, Mette incorporates several healing modalities to create bespoken sessions prioritizing inclusion, meaning, and accessibility and thrives on helping women discover all the choices available to them so they can build trust and safety in themselves, and move through life present, centered, and empowered.




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