yoga as spring cleaning


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One of the other traditional things associated with this time of year is spring cleaning.

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You know the sort of thing: when we go for the “big” clean at home, move all the furniture, turn out cupboards, throw things away that we no longer need, etc, etc.  We clean up our homes, get rid of the rubbish, so they are sparkling and clean, to usher in the periods of renewal, growth and warmth in the months to come.

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As we clean up our homes, we can also spring clean our lives and this brings me to the yogic teaching of cleanliness in both mind and body, otherwise known as saucha.  This comes from the Yoga Sutras, written by the ancient teacher, Patanjali, who set out his Eight Limbs or strands of wisdom, the building blocks to achieving a healthy and fulfilling life.  The first strand contained universal restraints, how we should treat each other, eg not hurting anyone and speaking the truth.  His second strand of wisdom was five inward attitudes (niyamas) we should apply to ourselves, the first of which is cleanliness of body and mind (saucha).

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Saucha teaches that the body is a temple and we are our own caretaker, responsible for washing it outwardly, nourishing it inwardly by eating correctly and drinking plenty of water.  In Hatha yoga, by practising postures and breathing practices, we cleanse our energy system and help remove impurities.  We calm our body and our mind and, if we spend time in meditation, we allow ourselves to access our inner wisdom and encourage a sense of deep harmony and peace.

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Essentially, we must be kind to, and do what is right for, ourselves.

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Perhaps you might like to consider your yoga practice as a bit of spring cleaning.  By creating space in the body, allowing stiffness in the joints and tension in the body to release, it will help you focus on your posture as you open up your body as an antidote to sitting at desks, in front of the steering wheel or slouching on the sofa.  By opening up the body to facilitate movement, we breathe better, encouraging a whole raft of benefits physically, mentally and emotionally.  And, if we open up the body, we can open up the mind.  Perhaps we can allow a few metaphorical cobwebs to blow away and let go of things in the mind that serve us badly.

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Who knows, we may then be better placed to welcome spring, and all that it means to us, into our hearts.  I send love and light for a happy Easter break. May you enjoy whatever you are doing!

 

© Sarah Swan (March 2016)

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