|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 336 ]
In the case of the physical body, cleansing is a relatively straight-forward matter. The wise Vyasa states in his commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:
"Out of these five (niyama) the purification is achieved with earth or with water, or with something else which is alike, through fasting or other requirements regarding the pure diet."
Sauca includes the six traditional techniques of purification, known under the name of shat karma kriya, which were previously introduced to you in this course. The external and internal cleansing of the body removes physical impurities, eliminates the state of physical weakness, distress, depression, the feeling of heaviness and apathy, and strengthens the immunity of the organism.
Indeed, this physical cleansing process alone can remove a lot of illnesses. However, the shat kriyas, as stated earlier, can be easily misunderstood and improperly performed if learned without direct guidance, therefore, their learning necessitates the personal instruction of a competent and experienced teacher.
But even the beginner's purification practices that you were introduced to at the beginning of this course are a necessary and good part of daily bodily cleansing. In effect, the general observance of bodily cleanliness and good hygiene is a basic aspect of sauca.
The asanas, kriyas, prakriyas and pranayamas clean the internal body too. The asanas tone the entire body and remove the toxins and impurities that are cause by an inclination towards gross pleasures. Pranayama cleans the lungs, oxygenates the blood and purifies the nadis (and nerves). Therefore, these branches of yoga can also be seen as an important part of sauca.
Swami Gitananda Giri Gurumaharaj has organized one of the most extensive and comprehensive approaches to pranayama and kriyas, which focuses intently on the cleansing and re-establishing of a vibrant and healthy pranic system. A pure and strong energetic system (pranamaya kosha) is not only the key to physical and mental health, but is also a fundamental foundation upon which the higher practices of yoga rest.
I have introduced you to some of these practices already, and will continue to build upon our techniques as we progress through the remainder of these lessons...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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