If the Yamas were all about putting our foot on the brake pedal then the Niyamas are about putting our foot on the accelerator!
The first of the Niyamas is Saucha, meaning purity or cleanliness. This refers to both the body and the mind.
Keeping the body clean is not simply about washing thoroughly every day, it also involves taking exercise and ‘eating clean’. Obviously our yoga movements and sequences help to remove blockages and to keep the body in good condition. Getting out in the fresh air helps to purify our lungs, our blood and all our internal systems.
Equally important is a good diet of freshly prepared food avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
Taking a shower not only cleans the outside of our bodies but can also help to wash away any ‘bad energy’ we might have picked up after spending time with someone or a group of people who have been for example angry, upset, out of sorts etc. Walking on the Earth also helps to discharge negative energy. I clearly remember stomping grief and stress out into the Earth on many occasions as I walked with the dogs!
In the warmer months walking in the rain can be extremely refreshing and purifying (or is that just me?!) as can paddling or bathing in streams, rivers, lakes or the sea.
And what about our minds? How often do we have impure thoughts? Or a wildly overactive ‘monkey mind’? Being aware of them is half the battle and once we have acknowledged them we can then take positive steps to cleanse ourselves:
- Use positive affirmations such as ‘May my thoughts be of benefit to everyone’
- Stand outside and stare up at a clear blue sky.....or close your eyes and visualise a clear blue sky
- Simply sit and contemplate a flower or a leaf or a flame
- Focus on the breath, watching the in breath and the out breath, counting if that helps
- Or use other ‘meditation’ or ‘pranayama’ techniques