Exploring Saucha: The Purity of Mind, Body, and Intention

clean minimalist home

Thanks to Marie Kondo and her Konmari Method, decluttering and finding what “sparks joy” is all the rage right now. Of course, spiritual practices around cleanliness and order are age-old practices, and the yogic teachings found in the Yoga Sutra contain powerful inspiration for how to create an inner environment for peace, joy, and freedom.

Saucha means cleanliness or purity, and it is the first of the Niyamas, or moral observances, of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Because the body is known as the dwelling place of spirit, yoga teaches you that you must purify your vessel so you can connect to your higher power.

In her book, The Yamas and Niyamas, author Deborah Adele writes, “Cleansing strengthens the body, and insulates the mind, preparing us for the awakening of the energy within us. Cleansing prepares us for the greatness of our spirit. Cleansing lightens us to experience more of the Divine mystery.”

As a powerful and important step on the spiritual path, Saucha comes in many forms:

  • Purity of the body, inside and out
  • Purity of thought
  • Purity of the moment (e.g., being in pure presence with what is)
  • Purity of communication
  • Purity of your relationships
  • Purity in your environment

There are so many ways to engage in saucha, and many of these may be calling to you if you are on the spiritual path. As you read the following suggestions, ask yourself: In what ways can I bring greater clarity and space into my life?

Purify Your Inner Body

If you are looking to purify your inner body, try the following tips:

  1. Be sure your diet consists of healthy, prana-rich, seasonal and whole foods.
  2. Do a cleanse or a fast to reboot your system.
  3. Eat less meat and processed foods.
  4. Drink more water, and less alcohol and caffeine.
  5. Perform dinacharya, which includes self-care practices like the use of a neti-pot, oil pulling for your teeth, tongue scraping, and drinking warm water to assist in bowel movements.
  6. Establish a regular yoga practice, and couple it with consistent exercise.
  7. Perform regular pranayama, like kapalabhati breath and nadi shodhana.

Cleanse Your Outer Body

If you are looking to cleanse your outer body, try the following tips:

  1. Perform abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage).
  2. Get regular professional massages.
  3. Take a luxurious bath, with Epsom salts and essential oils.
  4. Take care of your appearances by getting a fresh haircut, getting manicures and pedicures, and investing in facials.
  5. Wear clean, well-fitting clothing that makes you feel good in your skin. 

Purify Your Mind

Here are some ways in which you can help purify your mind:

  1. Meditate regularly, ideally every day. This is one of the most profound ways you can experience saucha.
  2. Take up a journaling practice, so that you might process, reflect, and work through your feelings and thoughts, rather than letting them get stuck or run rampant.
  3. Practice using what the Buddhists call a “beginner’s mind.” Imagine seeing the world through the eyes of a curious and delighted child, rather than with skepticism, pessimism, or the temptation to think you know how things will turn out.

Tidy Your Time

You can approach your moment-to-moment living with saucha by bringing more mindfulness into your life. Try these tips:

  1. Focus your attention on one thing at a time. By doing so, you are able to experience the fullness of whatever is presenting itself. A moment of connection with a loved one, a delicious bite of food, or the sound of the raindrops on the roof, all come through more clearly when they are not drowned out by competing sensory input.
  2. Improve your time management skills. Clean up your calendar and daily schedule by using a strategy like the Pomodoro Technique or a Bullet Journal to be effective and timely in your pursuits.

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Purify Your Communication

Communication is the foundation of all relationships. Here are some ways to help cleanse it:

  1. Watch your language. Check in with the type of language you incorporate into your lexicon, and be sure it accurately represents who you are. If you are finding yourself cursing a lot, try cleaning up your language and speaking more directly from the heart.
  2. Do not engage in gossip or low-vibration discussions.
  3. Speak kindly to yourself and others.
  4. Look people squarely in the eyes when you speak with them; this lets them know you are giving them your full attention.

Cleanse Your Relationships

Relationships of all kinds have the potential to get messy. Here are some tips to help you tidy them:

  1. Clarify your boundaries. Get clear about what type of behavior will and will not be tolerated by others. Learn to say no.
  2. Clarify your expectations. Get clear about what you need from the people in your life, rather than expecting them to read your mind.
  3. Forgive. Rather than carrying the burden of blame, anger, and judgment, forgive those who have caused you harm. Lighten your load by forgiving someone.

Clean Your Environment

When your environment is dirty and disorganized, it can be hard to focus on any tasks. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Declutter an area of your home or car that feels stagnant or stuck (like your junk drawer, closet, or glove compartment).
  2. Clean out your refrigerator and cupboards so that healthy and delicious food is more easily visible and within reach. Throw away anything that will weigh down your energy.
  3. Create a dedicated space in your home for spiritual practice that is clean and unencumbered by clutter.
  4. Utilize the Chinese tradition of Feng Shui by arranging your environment in a way that harmonizes energy in your life. Throw away dead plants. Give away items that have served their purpose. Get intentional about every item you place in your home. 

As you cleanse your outer body and purify your inner self, you will lighten your load and open yourself up to the vast power of the Divine. In reality, anything done with spiritual fervor, whether it is sitting for an extended meditation or scouring your kitchen floor, can move you forward on your path, bringing you closer to your essence nature. The practice of saucha is not about adding to your life anything you don’t already have. It is about removing that which gets in the way of appreciating the abundance that is already yours.

May you purify your life in both small and profound ways that you may feel lighter, more expansive, and more alive every way. Namasté.


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About the Author

Karson McGinley

Yoga Teacher and Life Coach
Karson McGinley is the founder of Happy-U Yoga (a Holistic Approach to Positive Psychology & Yoga), based in San Diego. A teacher for over a decade, Karson works to bridge the gap between the ancient wisdom of yoga and the modern science of human flourishing through her classes, regular contributions to the Chopra Center’s catalogue of wellness articles, and leading the Happy-U Yoga & Positive Psychology Teacher Training program. Karson teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, and Anusara Elements™ classes, inspired by the teachings of Classical and Tantric yogic philosophy, positive psychology, and metaphysical texts like A Course in Miracles . By sharing spiritual themes, scientific...Read more