Practically every time a client arrives at my yoga studio in the middle of the day, the first sound they hear is my beloved 90’s-style Dustbuster buzzing away as I try desperately to keep our floors and windowsills clean from the crumbling brick and mortar that rains down with every gust of Midwest wind. Keeping a clean, organized practice space is important to me, and it’s important to yoga.
Spending hours a week cleaning my yoga studio is not about pride or morality, and it’s not about perfection. It’s about the conscious and deliberate practice of saucha, the first of the five niyamas of Yoga Philosophy. Saucha is about creating an orderly outward space which then extends to an orderly inward state. Rolf Gates writes that saucha is the personal practice of cultivating “consciousness and care around the choices you make concerning your mental and physical environment” in order to achieve a balanced and serene mental state.
Because our environment definitely affects our mood, spending time cleaning and organizing can intimately and positively affect your mental outlook.
Think about it: we all love that first FRESH breath of spring air, we love the clarity of a much-needed rainstorm, we love getting into a rental car that’s been newly detailed. We feel comforted by clean sheets, we feel freedom after cleaning out our closets, we feel ready to rest soundly when the dishes are put away and the house is put to bed. These acts of care and cleanliness matter to our mental state and mental clarity.
“When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and the senses controlled, joyful awareness, needed to realize the inner self, also arises.” -Yoga Sutras
Take a few minutes this week to practice small acts of saucha. Simply ask yourself: “How do I feel after completing this act with care and attention?”
- Cleaning out your car
- Filing the stack of papers on your desk
- Wiping your kitchen cabinets
- Making your bed
- Soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salt and lavishly moisturizing your skin
- Sitting in meditation with a clean yoga mat, enjoying silence for 10 minutes
Enjoy the spontaneous sense of joy and ease that arises.