Yoga is more than a practice. It’s a lifestyle, and classical yoga provides many tools for living well. The yoga lifestyle is not just about exercise, breathing, and mediation. It’s also about how we treat ourselves and others. One way the Yoga Sutras teach us to live is with an emphasis on purity. Purity in yoga refers to clean living, which strengthens the body, mind, and spirit and prepares yogis for higher consciousness.
In the Yoga Sutras, purity (the Sanskrit term is saucha) is one of five principles for personal development.
How to Practice Purity in Yoga
You can probably think of lots of ways to practice purity in yoga. Start on your mat. It’s the place you first connect with yourself when you begin a yoga practice. Many of the physical practices—both postures and breathing exercises—help rid the body of toxins. Mediation does the same for the mind.
We also practice purity in yoga by paying attention to our physical environment. We cleanse our mats, remove our shoes before we enter our homes or yoga studios, and take care of personal hygiene.
It’s easy to understand why purity in yoga makes a difference. If you’ve ever had a stretch of time when you’re not able clean your home or take a shower, you probably stopped taking cleanliness for granted. Even having an uncluttered space to work or practice removes distractions and helps us focus.
Here are a few specific ways to practice purity in yoga:
Eat pure foods. We all have specific foods that nourish us and others that “don’t agree” with us. A few ways most of us can optimize the purity of our diets are by eating organic foods when possible and making sure the products we buy don’t contain harmful chemicals. You may even choose to follow a plant-based diet, which tends to be cleaner and more in line with another tenet of yoga—ahimsa.
Think about the products you use in your home. As you probably know, many cleaning and personal care products contain chemicals thought to contribute to health issues. The best way to ensure the products you use are safe is to look for those made with natural ingredients
Stay organized and reduce clutter. Your physical surroundings affect your mind. If there’s less clutter around you, your mind will feel less cluttered as well. Think about what you really need, and consider giving away excess. Then try to keep things in order. Reducing outer chaos will help your mind function in an orderly way too.
The Benefits of Purity in Yoga
Practices that keep your body, mind, and surroundings pure will help you focus, improve mental clarity, and uplift your mood. When you’re not bogged down by physical clutter around you, you’ll be able to work on freeing your mind of unending noise and disorganized thoughts.
Yoga on the mat is wonderful, but it’s when we take our yoga off the mat that it works its true magic. So, if you want to experience more of that magic, start with one thing you can do now to bring more purity into your life.