It’s been said before and will be again, but these are turbulent, strange times for us all. I’m back after a short blogging break, sadly due simply needing to focus on walking through the experience of two family bereavements in quick succession. My father and grandfather passed away within a week of each other at the beginning of June and though they had both lived long lives and it was not unexpected, that doesn’t actually lessen the shock and grief of it, as many of you already know.
I have of course been turning to my yoga and meditation practice during this time for emotional and physical support and I have realised again how lucky I am to have some brilliant friends and family in my life who are simply wonderful people and very kind. The kindness has made me cry more than the loss at times – nothing restores my faith in life and the living, particularly during these crazy times, more. That connection and compassion, the giving and receiving of love, the affirmation of life and acceptance of death as part of it all, is yoga in action.
It has made me turn my attention again to the teachings of Patanjali and what he has to say about personal responsibility and care following on from my past reflection on the Yamas (or societal restraints – we need these right now a lot!). The Niyamas are the second limb of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga and set some guidance for how to take responsibility for oneself as an individual. There are five of them in all and the first is Saucha.
Saucha is literally “purification; cleanliness.” Sounds rather austere, doesn’t it? But as ever this is a practical path and the practice of Saucha centres largely on keeping your body clean and cleansed. In Ayurveda the buildup of ama (toxins or waste – physical or emotional) in the body and mind is the underlying root cause of all disease, whether it be physical, emotional or mental. Or individual or collective for that matters - but we'll save that for another blog :) We do not have to try to hard to rid ourselves of ama: Saucha arises from within if we let it.
So healthy body, healthy mind and vice versa. It does not mean living like a monk, although it has been said that Saucha can be the foundation for better insight and calmer states of mind leading to an ability to meditate deeply. Saucha is put into practice when you keep yourself and your living space clean, are regular in and attentive to your yoga practice, maintain good eating habits, clean your yoga mat, do the washing up, sleep regularly and well and in many other ways. Learn to truly love yourself.
So as the sages would say be wise in how you indulge your choice of food, emotions, and thoughts. This will help you to deal with the ups and downs of living and stay on an even keel, and you will be placed to engage with life (and death) in a healthy way. Never forget to practice your yoga, maintain your connection to life through the participation in your practice, and as a result unite mind, body and breath as a whole and with the whole. You'll feel better and things will flow as they are meant to, no matter the challenges that may bring. Without the mud there is no lotus,
Hope to see you soon on the mat. Stay safe, stay well. Peace and namaste. xx