The five Niyamas are considered to be the individual duties or observances. They are the activities and habits we nurture in ourselves for healthy living and to sustain a life based on love. As I mentioned in my first post on the Yamas, please keep in mind that this is my interpretation. Just as we interpret the Bible, it is a matter of who is telling the story and how it makes sense to the individual.
The first Niyama is Sauca ~ Cleanliness / Purity. Sauca is the care for one's physical being and surroundings. I will start by saying, I am not going to tell you what to eat, how to practice personal hygiene or how to keep your home clean. What I will say is that Sauca is energy. Begin by thinking of all the ways we can practice Sauca ~ Beginning with our outside appearance, our home, our office, our car, our yard, our neighborhood etc. You get the idea. The work we do in Sauca seems to be physical. I believe it links directly to our mind and our energy.
I will be the first to admit, I like order. It reduces stress and anxiety. Many of my students chuckle when they see me folding the blankets in the studio or stacking the blocks just right. Yes I might be a bit OCD, but I believe that it is my role as a teacher to provide a space for my students that is welcoming and relaxing, not cluttered and chaotic. It's energy! If I walk into a studio to practice yoga and the props are just tossed about and not in order, I feel anxious not calm like I hope to be when I practice. We all come from chaotic daily lives to find peace on our mat. The last thing a student should experience is more chaos.
Clutter is overwhelming. Whether you believe it or not, it is zapping your energy. If your work space is full of piles upon piles of papers, you are not able to live up to your purest potential. If your closet is a mess, every time you choose what to wear that same energy flows to you. If your kitchen is a complete disaster and you are stressed every time you make a meal, that energy is going into your food. Our surroundings play a huge factor when it comes to our mind and our energy. Physical clutter, noise pollution, over stimulation all have an effect on our state of being.
Some may argue that they don't let a little mess affect their mood or that they have better things to do. That may be true for them, but it might also be that the chaos is covering something deeper.
We come to our mat and we practice sauca through pranayama (breath) and asanas to purify and strengthen the body. Off the mat we start to notice more about what we are putting in our body and what we are allowing to occupy our minds. It's the conscious choices we make concerning the body and the mind. The practice must flow equally on and off the mat. The more we begin to treat our body and our surroundings as a temple, the more we welcome the Divine to manifest.