The first of the Niyamas, Saucha, is not fooling around.

In a Yoga Sutra plot twist, this tenet asks us to purify, while at the same time telling us we can never be pure. On one hand, YOU are always pure. Your true nature is consciousness and so will always remain unsullied. On the other hand, YOU are cloaked in a body. The body produces waste creating impurity. Our thoughts are often unclean (or smudgy, at the very least), our environments, less than pristine.

What are we to do?

Saucha asks two things:

1. Remember you are an expression of Divinity – Consciousness – and as such, pure. Remember who YOU are. And if you can’t do that,

2. Cleanse what you can.

This Niyama is giving us the opportunity to live up to our pure divine potential by first recognizing areas of impurity, then addressing them. Before we could reason, spin, lie, cheat, coerce, convince or decide, we were unencumbered by the stickiness of life. We were pure.

Imagine all that has been energetically and physically accumulated up to now. The thoughts and ideas of righteousness that cloud decisions, perceptions and preferences that drive behavior and deeds that linger, waiting to be forgiven or reconciled, all create a barrier between us and divinity.

Or so it would seem.

As divine consciousness itself, none of these things matter. But as a human being, they create a perceived, murky, film that distorts the truth of who we are. This is where we can begin to cleanse.

In Buddhism, the lotus flower represents enlightenment and purity. It is born underwater, in the muck. As it begins to emerge, it is the same dirty water that cleanses the tightly folded petals of the lotus flower. When nothing but the stem remains under water, the flower opens. The interior of the lotus never gets dirty, it remains pure.

There is nothing to purge; there is only removal of external beliefs and ideas. Anything that doesn’t feel like love needs to be addressed. Feeling separate from others or nature is also a good clue. Unresolved issues create opportunities for clean up.

But this is our work.

As grown ups with thoughts and physical stuff, this is our good, solid work. Knowing we are pure beneath, and without, the detritus of a life lived fully, is really enough. But getting to that knowing can take some work.

We can begin now shifting our thoughts, our deeds and our words to support the divinity we know we are (or believe ourselves to be, if it’s not yet felt as truth). We can create good karma by living cleanly, making choices based on their support of our true nature. And failing that, we can work on whatever feels unresolved. Doing our best work without attachment to the end result. It is not that we need to fix things, we simply need to forgive and allow.

Even ourselves.

There is a depth to Saucha that can only be experienced if pursued with integrity. It is purity, yes, but to arrive there, it is also forgiveness, presence, accepting what is as it is. It is letting go of preconceived ideas, memories that become expectations and the need to be right. It is allowing the cloaks of mental, emotional and physical clutter to drop away, revealing the purity of the spirit that you are.

It is the unveiling of the divinity within.




One Sturdy Tree

The practice of yoga is an eight-limbed approach with roots dating back nearly 5,000 years. It is a complete holistic set of guidelines for living a joyful, healthy life. And you thought it was just about bending and twisting. An oral tradition beginning in India, yoga was finally codified in Read More