Saucha & Spring Cleaning: How To Practice Cleanliness On & Off The Yoga Mat

After a long winter, spring is finally on the horizon! One of the things I love most about spring is the freshness in the air. The warmer temperatures, longer days, and blooming flowers invite us to leave our winter cocoon and shake off those cobwebs. But many of us take the concept of spring cleaning too literally. It is not just about vacuuming, dusting, and mopping inside your home, but spring cleaning your entire life, including your physical body. The niyama Saucha teaches us about the true essence of spring cleaning… Saucha involves practicing cleanliness of the body, mind, spirit, and surroundings. And by diving into the yogic philosophy, we discover how to do so.

What Yogic Philosophy Says About Saucha

The Sanskrit word Saucha loosely translates as "purity" or "cleanliness." It is the first of the five niyamas (personal observances) outlined in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. According to yogic philosophy, purifying our body, mind, and speech frees us from impurities and allows us to access higher states of consciousness. And as the sutras state, practicing saucha prepares us for deeper yogic practices such as Kriya Yoga.

How We Can Practice Saucha In Our Modern Day Lives

Saucha is not just a stepping stone to spiritual growth. It also fosters personal development and improved well-being. There are many toxins in our modern world. From chemical-laden foods to excessive technology use, we often fill our bodies and minds with impurities without realizing it. Therefore, in the spirit of spring cleaning, this is a fitting time to detoxify our body, mind, and environment. 

Cleanliness of the body

Saucha for the body means cleaning our physical beings from the inside out. A popular way to cleanse our internal body is through detoxing. As Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga, the Ayurvedic detox might interest you. The Ayurvedic detox involves practicing the cleansing techniques Purvakarma and Panchakarma and following a special Ayurvedic diet that prohibits any foods believed to cause toxin buildup in the body.

Cleanliness of the mind

You can purify your mind by eliminating distractions while working or engaging in tasks requiring focus. Our phones are the most significant cause of distractions. So, one of the simplest yet most beneficial ways to cleanse your mind is to limit your phone use. I also recommend turning off notifications (except for phone calls and messages) so the constant pings don't cloud your mind. Of course, meditation is another excellent way to practice saucha for the mind. If you don't already, sit and observe your thoughts for 5-10 minutes each morning. When we observe our thoughts regularly, we develop more self-awareness. We can then determine the thoughts that don't serve us and reject them. 

Cleanliness of the spirit

Cleansing your spirit is about clearing (and protecting) your energy. You could do this by: 

• Sageing your home

• Wearing an energy cleansing crystal like black tourmaline

• Repeating positive affirmations or Sanskrit mantras, such as the Gayatri mantra, known for removing toxins and negativity

• Practicing gratitude

• Limiting your news or social media consumption

Cleanliness of your surroundings 

Research has found that a tidy environment improves mental health by creating a sense of control and stimulating a calming feeling. So, during spring, why not spring-clean one area/room of your home each week? Or, if you don't have time, simply clean up your yoga space, making it a more calming, centering place to find your zen. This is also a fantastic opportunity to practice mindful cleaning. 

Instead of allowing your mind to wander as you clean, practice total presence. Become aware of the smells of the cleaning products, the sound of the spray bottle, and the sensation of the sponge or cloth in your hand. Saucha extends beyond our homes, though. It also includes showing respect for the environment. So adopting eco-friendly habits and reducing waste are wonderful ways to practice saucha while honoring the interconnectedness of all living beings.


Bringing Saucha Into Your Yoga Classes

Like all of yoga's gifts, the concept of saucha should be shared. So, why not theme your classes this month around saucha? Here are some ideas of how you can do so:

Cleansing visualization 

Visualization is a fab way to purify our subtle bodies. One purification meditation I often guide my students through is a chakra visualization. In this meditation, I guide my students through the chakra system from the root to the crown chakra, visualizing pure, free-flowing energy in each center. 

Another short cleansing meditation is to visualize white light coming down from the universe and entering the crown chakra at the top of the head. This white light then spreads throughout the entire body, removing toxins and cleansing every organ and body part it passes. 

Cleansing breathwork

Kappalabhati (shining skull breath) is an energizing yet cleansing pranayama technique. It massages the internal organs and increases blood flow to the brain, clearing mental fog and negative/repetitive thoughts.

It also purifies the body by: 

• Clearing the nasal passages 

• Improving blood circulation 

• Increasing lung strength 

• Regulating prana flow

• Improving metabolism and digestion

So, a great way to help your students purify their bodies and minds is to include this breathwork in all your classes during spring. As it's an energizing pranayama, teach it at the beginning of the class and remember to explain its cleansing benefits.

Post-class cleaning ritual

Practicing cleanliness cultivates respect for ourselves and those around us. So, adopting a collective post-class cleaning ritual maintains a clean studio AND fosters a harmonious and respectful yoga community. A post-class cleaning ritual could be as simple as asking your students to spray and wipe down their mats after every class or roll them up and put them neatly away. 

No phone policy

Encourage the practice of saucha during class by asking students to place their belongings (including their phones) in a cupboard or somewhere out of sight. This is a policy I once introduced when I noticed many of my students were keeping their phones next to their mats during class. As mentioned, phones are one of our biggest distractions in daily life, and yoga is supposed to be an opportunity to disconnect from technology. So, to help your students go deeper within themselves, ensure the studio is free from physical distractions.

Final thoughts

Spring is the perfect time to explore the niyama Saucha, adopting new cleansing practices on and off the mat. Try some of the above techniques in your personal life and then share them with your yogis to spread this timeless yogic teaching!



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Gemma Clarke
Gemma Clarke is a yoga and mindfulness teacher and freelance wellness writer. She’s passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience through movement and words. Aside from helping others find more peace and stillness, Gemma is an advocate for stray cats and fosters orphaned kittens for a local animal rescue center.

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