how to practice saucha yoga|yogi surprise

How to Practice Saucha and Why You Absolutely Have to Clean Your Yoga Mat

I've definitely been guilty of letting my yoga mat get a little funky.

You figure, "Hey, it's my stench. What's the big?"

Saucha (cleanliness or purity) is the first niyama (positive and ethical observances). It guides us down the path of being mindful about excess and stabilizing our relationship with what purity means to us. If you're curious about how to practice saucha, let's begin with your yoga mat.

How to practice saucha when it comes to our yoga mats

Why am I making such a big deal over this? It's just a mat. If it's dirty, I'm only rolling around in my own filth. That's totally fine. Except that it isn't. If our yoga mat is a metaphor for our lives, we can't continue to dive head first into negative thoughts, impure intentions, and unclear actions. We must have enough self-worth to provide ourselves a clean yoga mat to practice on so we can establish the importance of pure feelings that translate into how we behave and what we value.

It's important to be considerate of others

If we treat our yoga mat as if it doesn't matter, does that translate into how we treat our bodies? Maybe. Probably. Just as it feels so much better to live inside a clean home, practicing on a pure sweet-smelling surface will only enhance the experience of our practice. And other people really appreciate it when they practice next to someone who took the time to bathe and put on fresh clothing. Have you ever set up your mat next to someone who smells like they have zero relationships with soap or deodorant? I have and it sucked. You try not to let it ruin your practice. But let's be real. It does. It's an easy solution regarding how to practice saucha and it benefits everyone.

How to practice saucha via asanas

It's likely you're already doing these. But in case you're not, or you blow off one or two, use this easy guideline to incorporate how to practice saucha into every practice, even if it's a home practice and there's no one there to offend.

  • Take a bath or shower. It can be quick. Hit all the important parts and literally wash the impurities from your body.
  • Try daily dry brushing and massage sesame oil into your skin. More impurities will vacate your body and self-care will instill the fact into your brain that you are worth it.
  • Set up your space thoughtfully. Lay out your mat. Hopefully, you washed it after your last practice. But washing it again before using it sets the tone for pure thoughts and intentions. Use an incredible mat spray that has essential oils to imbue sweetness and instill specific intentions. Try the Citrus Eucalyptus Yoga Mat Spray from Mystic Ginger Apothecary (included in the this month's Yogi Surprise box). It will compel you to get on your mat and stay there to soak up the goodness.
  • Share. We learned this in kindergarten. It's the perfect way to make new friends and contribute to the happiness and well-being of another in such an easy and instinctual way. Offer the person practicing next to you some of your mat spray or essential oil so they can cleanse their own palate and pursue the important and inspired practice of saucha.


Jnana yoga practice|yogi surprise

Why The Practice of Jnana Yoga Is a Necessity for A Happy Life

Have you ever heard of Jnana Yoga?

Me either. Or at least I hadn't until recently. A student asked about how to best practice Jnana yoga, and I had to admit I didn't know what it was. Once I did a little research, I got excited about exploring this practice. The yoga world is vast, and just when you think you've tapped into every piece of yoga philosophy there is, a whole different zip code shows up on the map.

Jnana translates to 'wisdom' or 'knowledge'. It's one of the four main paths of yoga and highly regarded as the most challenging to practice. Why is self-inquiry so tough? Why are we afraid of the truth and the pursuit of liberation from our untrue thoughts?

Jnana yoga throws down the gauntlet of Svadhyaya

To get on the other side of our egos, we have to be willing to invest fully in Svadhyaya, or "self-study". While it's true that most people like to talk about themselves, it is decidedly untrue that we like to explore our inner workings and implore honesty to rise to the surface and show us who we really are.

How can we embark on this daunting path? Questions. Lots and lots of questions. And meditating about our goals, passions, and reasons we are on this earth is no small thing. But without first taking the time to ask the questions, the hard ones, we can't arrive at the answers. We keep bumping up against that stubborn ego who wants to convince us that what we wish to believe is real.

How to start practicing Jnana yoga

First, take the time to journal about what your truths are. Dig in deep and ask the difficult questions. If you need a guide, you can start here:

  • Where does my ego hold me back?
  • What am I most afraid of?
  • What belief do I know isn't true, yet I hold onto for dear life?
  • Who could I become without that thought guiding me?
  • What is missing from my life?
  • Do I know my purpose?
  • Do I diligently speak with integrity? If not, why?

It's not that we want to lie to ourselves. It's a measured, calculated strategy of self-protection. But when we try to shield ourselves from what's really true, we wind up with an overactive ego that gets us in trouble.

Truth breeds humility. Humility is inspiring

Once we are willing to get really honest, we set ourselves free. Seeing the truth as only good news allows us to explore each crevice of our psyche and see ourselves with clear eyes. This will change our decisions, hopes, dreams, and earmark every action with clarity.

Practice yoga with candor and sincerity. If you have a shoulder injury, stay away from handstands and other arm balances. If your back hurts, either minimize the depth of your backbends or skip them altogether.

And if you've never read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, read it as soon as possible. The simple concepts in this text highlight such excellent strategies for getting to the heart of Svadhyaya and the practice of Jnana yoga. They are as follows:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Take nothing personally.
  3. Assume nothing.
  4. Always do your best.

Are you excited to practice today? Me too, very much so. We'll do the practice of Jnana yoga collaboratively. We're in this together.