Saturday, April 10, 2010


Niyamas are rules of individual conduct and self-discipline.

1.    saucha – purity
2.    santoshacontentment
3.    tapas ardour or austerity
4.    svadhyaya – self- study
5.    Isvara pranidhana – dedication or surrender

Saucha – purity
When cleanliness is developed, it reveals what needs to be constantly maintained, and what is eternally clean. What decays is the external. What does not is deep within us.
~ Yoga Sutra II.40 ; Translation by T.K.V. Desikachar

Purification or cleanliness is of 3 kinds:
(1) Physical – purification of body and it’s organs, including clothing and surroundings;
(2) Vocal – right use of words;
(3) Mental – right thinking

Cleanliness is key in supporting an individual’s health.  We purify the body by practicing good hygiene and by practicing yoga asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques), which detoxify and oxygenate the body from the inside out.

Some things you can do this Spring in the spirit of Saucha:

  • Donate clothes and other household items to your local charity
  • Clean out your fridge, closets, and drawers to make for good, clear, light space
  • Review your diet; get rid of foods that make you feel dull and sluggish
  • Evaluate your relationships, or job and shed what is negative

Physical considerations for cleanliness include the food we take in and the place we practice. Food is taken for sustenance “to promote health, strength, energy and life.” We literally are what we eat.  Just as the cellular material from food metabolizes and assimilates to our body’s cellular makeup, the quality and energy of the food affects us energetically.  When one becomes clear and views the body as the vehicle of the soul, it will be guarded well.  Also, the place where we practice should be quiet, “clean, airy, dry and pest-free.”
            Because the body and mind are directly connected, when one purifies the body, one also purifies the mind of emotional and intellectual agitations.  The process of cleansing reveals the radiance that underlies an accumulation of material consumption, impure action, intention, thought, and speech that we can burden ourselves with.  Often it is our own afflictions and actions that become obstacles to clear sense perception; hence, the ability to have real cognition or see reality clearly as it is. Of course, I don't intend to say that we must be indoctrinated in the ways of yoga philosophy, but I suggest we glean from it this notion as passed down from the lineage of Krishnamacharya, that recognition of confusion is a form of clarity. And "when one is benevolent, one sees the virtues in others and not merely their faults...then one is ready to enter the temple of her own body and see her real self in the mirror of her mind.”


  1. It is great to see that you are promoting the values as given in the yoga sutras. I am myself a student of yoga sutra and have a blog dedicated to the subject. Please visit On this blog I have provided translation of the sutras by 7 different commentators. I also have recorded in audio all the sutras spoken in clear, pure Sanskrit. Please visit the blog and provide your valuable feedback.
    Om Shanti.

  2. Subhash,
    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I think that any student of yoga, especially in the west, should pay special attention to the fundamental practices that precede the physical. Although they are indeed important, we tend to fixate on the bodily and neglect to tend to our interactions with the world.
    Thank you for providing this useful link!