Whew. 2014 has been a veritable blur of a year. Between work, teacher training, teaching, and general life happenings, I am not quite sure where the year has gone. But that’s okay, because it has ultimately been a productive year – one I can say I am proud of thus far. Not everything has gone the way I would have wished and there have certainly been roadblocks, but ultimately it has been a good one. That said, it’s not quite over yet!
We still have nearly two months to be filled with work, holidays, family, and (yes!) yoga practice. I think this is why I began working on cleaning out the cobwebs in early September. From closets to the bedroom to the kitchen and beyond, I organized, cleaned, built furniture, decorated – you name it, I did it. I didn’t get the whole checklist done, but I made some serious headway. It took weeks to just barely scratch the surface. I wondered at the time what my motivation was to tackle all these seemingly little projects (that turned out to be much bigger than expected) and initially chalked it up to a little cold weather nesting preparation.
Now, looking back over my last eight to ten weeks or so and anticipating the next eight weeks, I realize I did it both as a part of my yoga practice and a preparation for my yoga practice. Sauca is the Sanskrit word for cleanliness or purification. It is introduced in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras in chapter two as one of the Niyamas, or personal observances, necessary for the yoga practioner to follow. In his book, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, BKS Iyengar translates these sutras on Sauca as:
YS II:40 – Cleanliness of the body and mind develops disinterest in contact with others for others for self-gratification (153).
YS II:41 – When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and senses controlled, joyful awareness needed to realize the inner self, also comes (154).
Don’t get me wrong – I am a social person at heart – but I totally jive with YS II:40. When I am clean of body and mind, I am not as drawn into the petty everyday dramas that go on around me. I don’t feel the need to be a people pleaser. I enjoy having quiet time with myself. I enjoy my yoga practice and yearn for more. And there you are. The magic of the sutras. II:40 feeding into II:41: the less I seek self-gratification, the closer I come to my Self.
So, what does this have to do with my fall cleaning?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I cannot think clearly when I am not organized. I like a clean desk (and desktop). I prefer my bed to be made every morning. I enjoy the smell of a freshly cleaned house or basket of laundry.
Even more importantly, I cannot delve deeply into my practice when I am in an unkempt environment. I “take breaks” to go clean the dishes or tidy up the pillows on the sofa. I obsess over what I need to get done after I fit my hour in. I give up completely and promise myself I will get back to the mat tomorrow.
Now, because of my earlier fall cleaning mode, I got a lot of junk cleared out of my home and my body-mind is cleared for its own fall cleaning. I not only set the stage for coming home to a nice, clean sanctuary, but for deepening my yoga practice, as well. I encourage you to look at what cobwebs you need to clear for your own mental and physical health and your yoga practice. Likely you have already begun the process. Keep it up! And please share the ways you clear your body-mind for practice and life – we are all looking for ways to better ourselves, bit by bit, every day.