Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Return to Simplicity

One of the central themes of the Lenten season of fasting and spiritual devotion is simplicity. This time of year and its corresponding liturgical season in Christianity align nicely with secular Spring Cleaning efforts! People in the Northern Hemisphere from every culture and background are drawn to detoxifying, purifying and simplifying practices in preparation for a new season of growth. 

In Yoga practice, we endeavor to observe a principle called saucha, the first of the five niyamas. 
The niyamas are personal observances for cultivating happiness and avoiding suffering. The Sanskrit word "saucha" means inner and outer cleanliness and purity. 

"Saucha is practiced on the physical level by fasting to purge the body of accumulated toxins, by eating pure, vegetarian foods, and by practicing Yoga asanas and pranayama, which also have a cleansing effect on the mental level. We further clean the mind by refraining from sensory stimuli that disturb the mind, such as violent movies, or provocative images" (Swami Ramananda, Integral Yoga). 

A home where saucha is faithfully observed will be orderly, clean, simple and light. Taking inventory, tidying up and simplifying our home brings more peace, ease and clarity to our life. It helps us to develop a sattvic, balanced energy, within and without. 

In our practice of physical yoga postures, we apply saucha by observing clean lines, careful alignment, cleansing breaths and orderly transitions. We can also experiment with decluttering our foundations, simplifying, and working with the idea that less is more. 

The same concept applies to all of our activities: eliminate what is unnecessary, make space for what is most essential, acting from the foundation of a pure mind, body and soul. 

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