Now is an excellent time to talk about SAUCHA (cleanliness) and how we can apply this principle of yoga to protect ourselves against the coronavirus (and many other disease-causing microorganisms). Much of my nursing career has been in public health, and I've spent many hours teaching others the basics of how to help prevent communicable diseases. I've also spent many hours inspecting childcare and long term care facilities to ensure they were following established protocols for cleanliness and disease prevention. The coronavirus is just the latest microorganism to pose a threat to human health (do you remember swine flu, H1N1, SARS, Ebola, and others?) The practice of saucha can help us deal with this new threat.
Saucha is the first of the five niyamas (personal observances), which form the second limb of yoga as described in ancient text “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.” This Sanskrit term can be literally translated as "purity," "cleanliness" and "clearness," and it covers the cleanliness of body as well as the purity of mind. This niyama reminds one to live a healthy life and keep the body and mind pure. Healthy diet, personal hygiene and self-care are also considered saucha.
The practice of saucha starts with the external environment and keeping the surroundings clean. In yoga practice, practitioners are encouraged to keep their bodies, yoga props and the space where they practice clean. At Explorer Yoga, we are practicing saucha in the following ways:
We have hand sanitizer at the check-in desk and are disinfecting yoga props (blocks and straps) after each use. We have special bolster covers that are laundered after each use, and we are disinfecting common surfaces (including the walls) after each class. You can also choose to practice without props, but are welcome to bring your own (strap, blocks, blanket) for your practice. We recommend you bring your own yoga mat, but if you must borrow one, we will disinfect them before and after each use.
Saucha off the mat encourages one to keep his/her close surroundings clean. We recommend you carry hand sanitizer with you and limit the surfaces that you touch when you are in public. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth until you can wash or sanitize your hands. If you have a cough or need to sneeze, cover it (use a tissue or cough/sneeze into your sleeve). Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer (if no running water is available) after coughing, sneezing, using the toilet, before eating, and after touching any common surfaces.
When you wash your hands, scrub all surfaces of your hands (including under your fingernails) for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and use a paper towel to turn off the faucet (and use it to open the door). If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizers without 60-95% alcohol 1) may not work equally well for many types of germs; and 2) merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright. When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry.
Practicing saucha at home (sanitizing all common surfaces frequently, handwashing, and using hand sanitizer) will also help keep you and your family healthy. The saucha of thoughts in everyday life teaches one to keep the mind calm, centered and peaceful. Pay attention to your thoughts and keep your mind focused on the present moment. Calming breathing practices and meditation can help you stay grounded.
Lastly, if you are not well, please stay home to rest and recover. We will be here when you are ready to return to class.
Denise Ruby, MN, RN, RYT-200
Owner/teacher, Explorer Yoga
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Yogapedia