The present moment is a gift: to just be.
It is also the truest way to clean
The doldrums, the emotions, the memories
they are not me.

Saucha- cleanliness in mind body and speech

Writing is an excavation and an evacuation of the mind. I scribble the angry, the insane, and the horrible onto the paper. It is an act of Saucha- not to ignore my putrid thoughts, illicit cravings, and ominous dreams. Rather, the cleanse occurs when we bring the obscene to the light. What is this dirty thought really about? What does my spirit really need?

Scribbled two months ago in a Buddha bound diary:
“I love it here in Puerto Escondido….but, I would do dirty, dirty things for a long, hot shower….”

I could write a book on Saucha. These past three months- I’ve delved deeply into the cleanse. Arctic showers amidst radiant skies. Plunging into the pool  a spiritual ritual rather than pedantic exercise. Body absorbs in waters- weightless, effortless, momentarily without sin or circumstance. Sometimes, I wish to exist within the metaphor.

Saucha- we yogis carefully orchestrate our bodies in harmony with our breath. We salute the sun and detoxify from our waking weariness, We fly, bend back, and land more focused than ever before. Saucha- sweat cries out our toxins.

Saucha- breath drowns out the mental debris.

Roll up your mat. You’ve done your yoga for the day. Drink your water and a eat your vegetables. Cloak your body in fair trade fabric and float into dream-time beneath the bamboo sheets.
You swallowed unkind words. You smiled and you served. But something was missing.
Cleanliness is my speech, body and mind.

I implore you to explore the state of your mind. Travel a layer beneath the skin – to the valley where mischievous thoughts lurk. Because Saucha is not a superficial procedure. It is a inventory of your honesty. Distance yourself from the bad/good dirty/clean dichotomy. Instead, consider the inconsistencies. The heaviness in your chest. The tightness in your jaw. The lingering beliefs that you are not good enough and nor were you ever lovable. Saucha is not about perfecting your diet or showering fifty times a day. Rather, this niyama invites you to clean house. What thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are preventing you from seeking union from yourself and others? What negative thoughts and barriers would you like to wash away?

To cleanse is superficial
Brush your teeth
eat your vegetables
sweat it out
oh would you, please?
but there is something more
cavernous that we must seek
to cleanse
what is your intention
when you wash
do you want to wash away
your pain
do you want to scrub clean
your identity
what are your intentions for
getting clean
because if they aren’t there
set in your heart
your heart is after all flesh
so malleable and sensitive
not some stoic stone
if you cleanse just to cleanse
just to start fresh again
you wash away in vain
there is nothing wrong with you
you need love
and foundation
not flagellation

in body and mind
would you mind
taking some time
to cherish yourself?

This article is the 6th entry in the blog series covering the traditional 8 limbs of yoga, written for It’s Yoga International.For an introduction to the series, please visit, “Intro to the 8 limbs.” The author, Randee Schwartz, shares her own personal journey as a yogi and what it means to stay true to her own path. She’s currently living in Mexico and supporting the It’s Yoga International family with her creative writing skills.

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