Sauca (Cleanliness & Purification)


“Although he recognizes that the body is perishable, the sadhaka (practitioner) does not regard it with disgust or distaste, but keeps it clean and pure out of respect for the dweller, purusa (Soul) within. To that extent, he respects the body as a temple.”

B.K.S. Iyengar Light on Yoga Sutras Sutra II.40


Sauca is to clean the lens of consciousness so that what is the essence of purity is revealed.  Taking a bath is an act of external sauca and practicing asanas is an act of internal sauca. Yet the link between practicing trikonasana and unveiling the purity within seems only a lofty idea at best. What is the connection?




For B.K.S. Iyengar, yoga was first a practical subject meant to be experienced. For this reason, his method starts with the body as it can be felt directly in the postures, and one senses a connection between the state of the body and the state of the mind. When something is bothering me, after asana practice there is often a change of perspective. One reason is that mental stress affects the muscles and nerves, and these tensions are released in the postures. This is internal sauca. Yoga practice also nurtures a reflective state. The cloudiness of the lens is often there because I am not seeing things for what they truly are and for this reason asana practice helps.


“Do not underestimate the value of asana. Often, we hear people saying that they remain active and light when they do just a little bit of asana practice. When a raw beginner experiences this state of well-being, it is not merely the external or anatomical effects of yoga. It is also the internal physiological and psychological effects of the practice.”

B.K.S. Iyengar Light on Life, page 24


As we practice the asanas over time, awareness deepens to experience things we cannot see from outside and the mind becomes absorbed with this inner experiencing. From this absorption discernment awakens … why do I feel space here but nothing here, why do I not put weight on this side of my heel as easily, why is my breath not felt the same on this side? This awakening discernment is the part of our consciousness called Buddhi or intelligence based on our own subjective experience. It is honed in asana practice and becomes a tool in our daily life which is the real stage for yoga practice. Listening to this discernment can guide us in the choices we make to move closer to the purity within. The lens is cloudy because there is a lack of awareness.

It is a long way from trikonasana to the purity within and the sages have said that yoga is an arduous journey. What is clouding the lens is not easy to let go of, nor easy for us to see, our ego and pride. However, all we can do is start and go forward one step at a time. If we feel better physically and mentally after yoga practice, the motivation to continue becomes stronger as it is coming from within. This awakening sensitivity is what guides us, step by step and breath by breath.


Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal.

Spirituality, as I have tried to make clear, is not ethereal and outside nature but accessible and palpable in our own bodies.

How can we move towards something that, like Divinity, is already, by definition everywhere? A better image might be that if we tidy and clean our houses enough, we might one day notice that divinity has been sitting in them all along.

B.K.S. Iyengar Light on Life Page 18


Jito Yumibe

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