Saucha: Cleanliness as a Spiritual Practice


The tradition of Yoga includes various practices that clean the body and mind, making us more sensitive to the subtler aspects of our being. Then we can begin to control those subtle energies, like the movement of prana, and gradually master the mind.

Saucha is one these practices that is presented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and is often translated as purity or cleanliness. It refers to cleaning both the physical and mental levels and if correctly practiced, has a profound effect on our physical well-being and mental clarity.

Saucha is practiced on the physical level by fasting to purge the body of accumulated toxins, by eating pure, vegetarian foods, and by practicing Yoga asanas and pranayama, which also have a cleansing effect on the mental level. We further clean the mind by refraining from sensory stimuli that disturb the mind, such as violent movies, or provocative images.

Sri Swami Satchidananda suggested that our all our sensory organs should be equipped with immigration officers to examine anything that we might allow to enter our country, via the ears, eyes, nose or mouth. He pointed out that while the ears have no covering, the mouth has two protective gates to prevent inappropriate things from coming in and from coming out.

An even more refined purity of mind comes from a regular meditation practice to calm all the restless and scattered thought forms, and a daily effort to shift our thinking from selfish thoughts to ones that consider the well-being of everyone. Notice how healing it is for the heart when we serve/give freely to others, as well as take care of ourselves.

I recommend practicing Saucha in small ways but in numerous areas of life. Try fasting once a month on the full moon day, or simply skipping the evening meal once a week to let the digestive system cleanse itself. Spend a little time daily keeping your room and/or desk neat, and see how good that feels. Carefully notice the effect of what you eat, watch in movies, and read.

Try taking a compassion walk during which you see everyone, regardless of their behavior, as doing the best they can in that moment. Instead of judging others, try assuming they are struggling in the same ways you have, and send a silent prayer for them to suffer less, to have opportunities to learn and grow.

All of these approaches feed both body and mind in healthy ways, and if practiced regularly, gradually replace the old unhealthy patterns embedded in the subconscious mind. As we purify ourselves, we make room for the radiant health, light and wisdom that is our birthright to emerge and illuminate our lives.


2016-10-15T01:44:24+00:00 September 6th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Saucha: Cleanliness as a Spiritual Practice