Yoga Philosophy: Saucha, the first Niyama


My small yoga win for the day is practicing saucha by taking my first shower in 3 days.

Saucha, often translated as “purity” or “cleanliness” is the first of the five niyamas of yoga philosophy. It refers to purity of mind, speech and body. The niyamas are one limb of the 8 limb path of yoga (Ashtanga Yoga), described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. (Asana, or physical practice, is another limb.) In my yoga teacher training, we were taught to think of them as guidelines for how to interact with ourselves. The five niyamas are saucha (“purity” or “cleanliness”), santosha (“contentment”), tapas (“austerity” or “discipline”), svadhyaya (“study” of the self and study of texts), and ishvara pranidhana (“surrender” to a higher power or greater consciousness). They are beautiful values for bringing yoga off the mat and into our daily lives.

I came home from snowboarding and contemplated not showering before doing some yoga, because what if I get sweaty again? Then I thought to myself, honestly, I’m just going to do some stretching and nothing too intense. Post shower, I feel refreshed both physically and mentally. If the point of yoga is connection of mind, body and spirit, I am much more ready for my asana practice now.

This is a reminder that yoga doesn’t have to be hard and it’s not only a physical practice. I am grateful for the opportunity to slow down and reflect on this niyama.

Other simple ways to practice saucha are tidying up your house or even just your workspace, taking out the recycling, eating healthy. Small things that maybe you aren’t super motivated to do, but make you feel good after.

What is your small yoga win for the day?