Saucha: The Yoga of Purity
by Suzette Scholtes
In Dr. Emoto’s groundbreaking work of filming water molecules (featured in the popular documentary What the Bleep Do We Know?) we may see with our eyes the purity of thoughts of love and gratitude. The energy of love looks like a crystal snowflake. Whereas the photo of a drop of water in the energy of hate looks sick like disease.
Did the ancient yogis understand our bodies are about 70 to 80 percent water and the purity of thought and consciousness effects every cell? I think so.
It is reported we have over 60,000 thoughts per day! Yoga gives us the tools to develop stronger awareness--to stay awake to the nature of our thoughts and feelings and choices. As we heal consciousness of victim, blame, suffering, and unhappiness, transcendence takes place. We become more light, happy, and fulfilled. This is the heart of yoga saucha.
“Why would Pantanjali, the father and great sage of yoga, give such importance to Saucha he places it as the very first niyama?” writes master teacher Aadil Palkhivala. “The reason is energy.”
Aadil writes that when the body is dirty it holds past energy (vibration or resonance). When clothes are dirty, same thing. I’m sure you’ve discovered, he notes, that when you just cleaned up your whole house it feels lighter and brighter.
Personally, I’ve witnessed Aadil living his saucha in remarkable ways. He eats organic food. He allows only organic, nourishing foods into his body and omits caffeine, alcohol, or sugar. Guests in his home remove their shoes before entering or wear shoe covers. Every part of his car, garden, home, and school is spotless. He changes clothes between classes and washes his yoga wear with organic soap.
Even more impressive is the purity of his thoughts and his masterful presentation of his language. “I will harm no one” with my words is also part of his saucha.
Judith Hansen Lasater said when she first studied saucha, it felt to her like a set of moral rules.
“No one told me that the intent in my heart mattered when I attempted to practice saucha,” she comments. “Since I have learned common-sense and practical insight to saucha. If anyone embraces impurity in thought, word, or deed, you will eventually suffer.”
Judith shares that with time saucha took on another dimension for her. “Rather than seeing it as a measure of my actions or its outcomes, I now see saucha as a reminder to constantly examine my intention behind my actions. It is the intention to act from compassion. When I focus on acting from compassion there is a space for saucha to arise from my heart.”
Once again in sharing time with Judith on her last visit to Kansas City, I observed her amazing gifts of practicing purity of body and word. She shared with us the book Non-Violent Communication, teaching us to become awake to all passive/aggressive tendencies and use our language to empower clean, non-harmful communication. (she returns to see us in October, 2005).
I bought the book the next day.
John Schumacher, another master teacher, also influenced my life in the practice of Saucha. During one of his trainings he said, “Everything you say and do in teaching yoga plants seeds. Even more true, everything you say and do in life effects your karmic path.”
John mails an occasional note on my writings. He may say something about clarity of a yoga sutra and then end the note with such kind compassion the message always teaches, never hurts. For example, he once wrote: “I invite you to ponder the following sutras: ll:8 and l:33. Especially the part about indifference to vice. What we resist often gets stronger as a result of thoughts or feelings.”
Then he closes his note with “Anyway, just a thought or two to chew on….or not!” Humor is another tool to use in the practice of saucha.
Aadil, Judith, and John all teach us all we have the power of choice. Then they give us the tools from the ancients to use now in modern times. Whether or not we choose to eat organic, to clean up our cars and homes, it all boils down to the intent of choice.
Every third Tuesday is devoted to saucha in my home. I chose years ago to ask for help. My helper arrives mid-morning after I’ve prepared by washing throw rugs and changing the beds. Then we work together for the next few hours talking and sharing and laughing. This house sparkles from base to brim!
A friend asks me how I can justify paying for help when I could do it myself. “It’s a choice of love,” I answered. “My schedule is so intense some weeks I value every bit of loving help given to me.” This is saucha!
Saucha for Your Body – First Importance
- Eat fresh, organic foods (inorganic foods are contaminated with toxins and should be avoided as well as processed food)
- Bathe or shower daily and more if around negative people.
- Drink plenty of water and herbal teas
- Keep teeth, gums, nails and hair impeccably clean
- Be in fresh air away from noise every day
- Use an organic deodorant because as yoga students we will sweat
- If teaching two classes a day, consider change of clothing for next class
- Wash your clothes in organic detergent if possible
- Change bath towels and hand towels daily (Jackie O had her staff change hers 3 times per day!)
- Wash your hands in warm water as soon as you arrive home and many times throughout the day.
Saucha for Your Home
- Most master yogis do not permit anyone to wear shoes in their homes. (Shoes bring energy of the outer world into our sanctuary)
- The bathroom (s) must be kept impeccably clean at all times.
- Same for the kitchen where food is prepared
- Clean out and sort foods in your refrigerator once/week
- Keep garden areas and lawns beautiful and free of weeds
- Keeping your house clean includes the garage and basement.
- Keep your car showcase clean (it will slow modality of progress if cluttered or dirty.) Change oil and tune up your car on regular basis.
Saucha for Your Mind & Spirit
- Set a morning intention of compassion and peace.
- Set an evening intention for healing as you sleep.
- If you recognize a negative thought or pattern: Stop, Cancel, Pivot…and create a new and positive thought.
- Find your preferred books to learn integrity in communication
- If possible, meditate daily or practice pranayama or both
- Stay away from aggressive, angry, and loud people
- If it works for you, be in nature and practice awareness
This framed calligraphy has adorned our hall for 25 years
Our home is a Shelter…from cold and heat, from wind and rain, from winter’s snows and summer suns, from chilling dews and the dark of night.
Our home is a Work Place…where meals are prepared to replenish hungry bodies, where clothes are washed and mended, where dusting and scrubbing and polishing and painting, doing dishes, and pressing party dresses are daily chores…and once done, come again in endless procession.
Our Home is a Nesting Place…where babies are conceived and brought home from hospitals, where diapers are changed and shoelaces tied, where scraped knees are bandaged and childish tears are dried, where stories are told and human seedlings sprout personalities and thrive on parental love.
Our Home is an Expression Place…where colors and shapes and textures, sounds and smells and space and light, all portray the personalities who dwell here.
Our Home is a Haven… a retreat from crowds, a harbor safe from rolling waves and problems, decisions, and uncertainties, where anxieties are calmed, where fatigue melts away, and where weary hearts and minds return to renew their courage.
Our Home is a Learning Place…where we begin to understand the need to live together as individuals and families—that we must share respect and love—where the basic values of life are passed down through the generations.
The Hidden Messages in Water by Masaru Emoto
Copyright 2004 by Beyond Words Publishing.
Beginners Teacher’s Training Manual, The Importance of Saucha, copyright Aadil Palkivala, 2005 edition; quoted by permission of author Bellevue, WA 98005
Non-Violent Communication, A Language of Compassion, by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., PuddleDancer Press, Del Mar, CA, l999 www.puddledancer.com
Suzette Scholtes worked as monthly columnist for Enlightened Practice Magazine. Her many studies worldwide have earned her more than 12,000 training hours. Teaching since 1984, the Yoga School was incorporated in 1994. It is a National Yoga Alliance Teacher’s Training School. She helps each student experience quality of life by sharing techniques on how to use inner resources for ongoing health and happiness.