Saucha and Self-Acceptance

By Erica Rodefer Winters


Earlier this week, I decided to get out my broom and put an end to all the dust bunnies that had been lurking in my corners for weeks—OK, months. It took me all of 10 minutes to create a mountain of pet hair so big I think there would have been enough to knit a sweater. As I went about doing this long overdue chore, I had two thoughts. First of all, I thought, Gross! Seriously, who lives like this? And, then, saucha came to mind. If you’re not familiar, saucha is the niyama, or yogic observance, that means cleanliness. Or, as my mother would say, “cleanliness is next to godliness.” I’ve been failing miserably at saucha lately.

I could tell you that being neat and tidy just isn’t my priority—that I choose to spend time with my family and work on my creative pursuits instead. I could say that I’m a creative thinker and a little disorder is just par for the course. I could give you lots of excuses about why I’m not exactly neat and tidy, but the truth is it’s just not one of my strengths. Housekeeping feels like a never-ending hole of tedious tasks. Most of the time I’d rather just turn a blind eye to the dust bunnies and go on my merry way. But yoga is about becoming more conscious of everything in life—strengths and weaknesses, good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant. I know that pushing something unpleasant off into the corner and pretending it’s not there will only cause more suffering in the long run. When it comes to dust bunnies, Patanjali would not approve—and neither would my mother.

So how do I get better at this? I’m trying to approach it as I would a challenge on my yoga mat with the hope that I’ll eventually come to a balance with saucha. When I’m learning a new yoga posture, I understand that it will take a lot of practice, dedication, and patience. I also know that I have to start where I am and move forward from there. Maybe, most importantly, I’ve learned that beating myself up because I’m not perfect won’t help anything. So, I’m trying to be kinder, gentler, and less judgmental with myself—which is something that’s easier said than done. This practice isn’t about finding the perfect pose, but the experience of heightened awareness that happens as you work toward it.

Because of my yoga practice I know that whether the challenge is a cleaner house, cleaner eating, cleaner thoughts, or simply more integrity in Warrior I Pose, it’s OK not to be perfect. I’m working on applying this to my struggles with saucha. In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to keep the critical thoughts—and the dust bunnies—at bay.