"Purity is not our attempt to make something different than it is; rather it is to be pure in our relationship with it, as it is in the moment." Deborah Adele
I had an amazing opportunity this past week to deepen my understanding of saucha (purity, cleanliness), the first Niyama in our yogic guide to a healthy and happy life. Saucha continues to be our focus for April and the quote above from Deborah Adele's book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice helps to explain it much better than I can.
Last week I talked about saucha in terms of giving up something that doesn't serve us, and for the past two weeks I've been practicing pushing away my fears, frustrations, bad habits, and so on, and felt nothing but the usual dissonance that I feel every time I try to change something about myself simply because someone, somewhere said, "you should."
Then on Thursday and Friday, I had the opportunity to work with Leslie Gossett. Leslie is pretty much The-Go-To-Kids-Yoga-Teacher in Silicon Valley, and she embodies everything that I dream of being as a kids yoga teacher. I was deeply humbled and became overwhelmed with self doubt. At the end of the first day, I ran to my bike -- where I always do my best thinking/meditation -- and sat/pedaled with those feelings for about an hour. I tried desparately to push the self-doubt away, telling myself, "yes I can, yes I can."
That's when I started to understand saucha. That practicing purity is not about achieving the end result of eliminating things that don't serve us, it's about the process. It's about the willingness to be present with our thoughts, feelings, mistakes, in a way that helps us to understand how even the things that we may not like about ourselves, are as much a part of who we are as the parts that we love. Pushing away the self-doubt didn't serve me at all. Sitting with it, I began to understand that the self-doubt was driving me to become a better teacher.
The symbol for saucha is the lotus flower. The lotus flower rises up through the mud and the muck to stand pure and clean atop a long stem. But without the mud and muck, there would be no lotus flower.
I look forward to seeing you in our practice this week!
Jamie Walton is a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher with more than 8 years (1000+ hours) of experience teaching group exercise classes, and has been certified by the American Red Cross to administer First Aid and CPR.