Yoga: How to create a sacred space for your life
One of the most important philosophical aspects we can apply to ourselves is the niyama, Sauca, which means cleanliness, but it’s not just about taking a daily shower lest we get a bit stinky.
There are some simple ways you can bring sauca or cleanliness to your yoga practice on and off the mat
You may have experienced profound discoveries on your mat.
You may have discovered that you can actually touch your toes where you never could just a few months before, has happened to one of my lovely students.
You may have experienced quite an emotional or spiritual occurrence here on this very mat. (It is not uncommon to feel such emotional release or surrender that you find yourself crying or giggling during a savasana. It happens, whatcha gonna do? Who’s going to judge you? Not me, that’s fo’ sure.)
These experiences are a kind of a big deal and should be treated as such.
Allow me to briefly share an example of what not to do… One time during one of my classes, somebody walked across my yoga mat wearing their shoes. Let that sink in for a moment.
Walked across my yoga mat in. Their. Shoes.
Jeez man, I put my face there!!!
It took all my yogi super powers to remember my ‘love and light to all’ , but I found it hugely disrespectful.
Love your yoga mat
Avoid just chucking it out. Roll out your mat with care and treat it with kindness as though it were the most wonderful place on earth. It is though, right?
Clean it regularly (please see above and the face placement). I clean all of my mats during the weeks I do not teach yoga classes and often have a sauca practice with my own mat using a blend of essential oils such as tea tree and lemon to keep it fresh and nice without the use of chemical cleaners. I currently offer a free gift during my classes of this mat cleaning spray, working in conjunction with the free loyalty app, Onify. These guys are building a network of local businesses that celebrate community collaborations.
When you take your seat on your mat, take a moment for a breath. Gratitude is just as wonderful a place to start your yoga practice as it is to finish.
Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a space to leave your yoga mat out at home ready for your morning practice. Walk around it, keep the area clean and tidy for your safety (trip risks an’ all) and for minimising distractions when you’re getting your Om on.
But it’s not just what happens on the yoga mat.
The energy of the food we consume is important. Have you ever wondered why so many yogis choose to eat a vegan diet? Before I go any further, I want to tell you I am in no way preaching about what you should or should not choose to consume in your diet. You are an intelligent human being and I know that you do your own research and make your own decisions about the way you nourish your body. Any questions about the best nutrition for you should be directed towards a medical or nutritional expert. What I do want to impart is my own understanding of the logic behind this area of philosophy.
How many glasses of water do you drink?
Our bodies are made up of at least 60% water - that’s an incredible fact that we all perhaps take for granted. Take a look at my previous blog post Welcome the Water for an introduction to some fascinating research into the self-care benefits of keeping hydrated that might surprise you.
Now, I like a nice cup of coffee as much as the next girl but fresh clean water throughout the day is key not only to your physical health, but also, it seems to our mental and emotional wellbeing. (I’d love for you to have a read and let me know your comments, it’s a discussion I find exhilarating!)
Next up, consider the old adage
you are what you eat
This is a phrase that developed from the works of Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1826 “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are” and Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach in 1863 “man is what he eats” .
Plants and vegetation need clean water, nutrients from the air and the earth and sunshine for photosynthesis to occur. This is the process of using sunshine to create the energy required for the plant to grow, develop and reproduce. With this knowledge, we can rightly assume that in eating fresh, plant-based produce, we are literally eating the vitamins and minerals that are pure sunshine and light. Could this energy that we use for the growth, repair and reproduction of the very cells of our bodies be any cleaner?
If it is your choice to eat meat, it is important to ensure that the meat we consume has been reared and farmed in a humane and healthy way.
Consider if you will, that other processed foods may contain chemically engineered ingredients that we may not even be able to pronounce, let alone understand. Anything that we ingest that is not naturally produced will need to be metabolised or broken down by the digestive system. If the body is continually exposed to processed food or toxins without fresh, clean energy-producing foods, we will be creating extra work for ourselves and this will lead to issues like inflammation, disease and obesity.
Just incase you were wondering, it is not my personal choice to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. In fact, I eat processed food sometimes and enjoy a glass of wine or a G&T (and lots of water, obvs).
It is not my intention to impose any kind of sanctimonious judgement here.
Just a gentle reminder and a different view point of why one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves is to keep hydrated, have a balanced diet and exercise regime and to make sure you eat your greens.
Are you untidy in your home or at your desk? Do you hang onto things for emotional or sentimental reasons? Having an area full of clutter will not help for an easy, calm, free state of mind.
A few years ago I read the book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo. The idea is that you only keep things that you love or that spark joy within you or are actually used. And it makes sense, doesn’t it?
If we love the things we have, we will enjoy them far more. If we hoard things we do not need, for a start, we’re going against the yama aparigraha, we’re stealing the opportunity from someone else that they might be able to love or make use of the item and we’re surrounding ourselves with energy that might be a bit stale or stagnant.
But it’s hard to organise things and even harder to get rid of things that hold sentimental attachments. Isn’t it??
One of my lovely friends in Nottingham has created a business out of helping people to organise their wardrobes to make the most out of the clothes they already have. This clever Wardrobe Fairy with an eye for style helps people rediscover the garments that they already have. And perhaps sometimes we only need a fresh eye of storing things differently to avoid the clutter.
Earlier I mentioned eating your greens? Surround yourself with greens, too! Houseplants are such a welcome addition to any home or yoga area because they improve the quality of the air we breathe.
Diffuse essential oils for health benefits rather than breathing in artificial chemical air freshners. I do this in almost every room of my home and in all of my yoga classes. In particular, my children’s groups really enjoy the gentle, calming aromas while they practice their yoga. Take a look at Holistic Kitchen for some great ways to introduce natural products like this into your space.
Treat your space as though someone really important was coming to visit for a really special reason. Because, you know what? You are.
I hope this has been helpful for you and I really would love to know if you have any comments or opinions on any of the points I raised - dialogue and community is great! Share away using the social buttons below ⬇️