by Jyoti Murray.
At the very beginning of the Yoga Sūtras, Maharishi Patanjali shares with the reader the Yamas and the Niyamas. The Yamas are ethical practices and the Niyamas are observances along the path of ones yoga journey. There’s a reason for Patanjali placing these precepts at the beginning of the Sūtras which points to this very simple fact that yoga and behaviour go together, they can’t be separated.
For many beginners they start their study of yoga with Āsana practice and “how to do yoga” and yet have little understanding of ethics or basic yoga etiquette.
Some weeks ago I was teaching to beginners and was sharing with them a little on yoga philosophy and as I gazed around noticing this sea of bags and scattering of mobile phone decided it was a perfect time to share on the etiquette of the “does and don’ts” when we enter a yoga studio.
So this goes out lovingly to everyone from beginners – advanced students:)
The first Niyama is Śaucha translating to cleanliness or purity, external and internal.
The late B.K.S Iyengar said this “The body is your temple. Keep it pure & clean for the soul to reside in.”
He is not only speaking to how Asana (the physical postures) & Pranayama are used to aid the purification process of the body, but also what goes into it through our senses and mind.
So, Śaucha reaches beyond that immediate meaning of personal hygiene. To be cleaned also means to have your senses refreshed and vibrant, seeing things clearly and truly. The same way you clean your sunglasses or your windshield on your car before you go for a drive.
Śaucha is also about energies, there are subtle levels of energy that we accumulate throughout our days, on our garments, our hair & skin and by the simple act of “washing” the day away with a shower there’s a noticeable change in how we feel. Same goes for wearing clean clothes and who doesn’t love the feeling of fresh bed linen when you retire at the end of long day!
Śaucha is leaving you shoes at the entrance before you walk into a yoga studio, śaucha is the cleaning of your mat after class. Śaucha is keeping your personal environment simple & uncluttered, making your bed, wearing fresh clean clothes, eating wholesome healthy food & drinking clean water to maintain you body for vitality and prevention of disease.
Immediately when you walk into a yoga studio it has a calming effect right? Any wonder why, think about how much positive energy is built up in a yoga studio with 4-5 classes being held there every day? You notice how the mats are neatly rolled and props are stored in a tidy manner. We learn then how to handle our mats with care after class and return our props as we found them and bring essence of respect for all things.
Śaucha is a purity that operates on many levels and to experience the fullness of our yoga class we leave all personal belongings in the storage space, especially electronic devices! The studio space is one that is sacred and that is felt as soon as we enter, it’s fresh, clean and uncluttered.
Let’s all enjoy the sacredness, disconnect for 90 mins from our devices, trusting our personal belongings are safe in the wonderful space that’s been provided.