This episode is part of a course.
Living the Yamas and Niyamas Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Saucha (Cleanliness)

45 min - Practice


While exploring the niyama of Saucha, or cleanliness, Robert shares a dynamic practice that focuses on rotations and twisting to promote purification and to detoxification of the body and mind.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block


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Hey there, welcome back, nice to see you again. We're continuing along this journey of the Yamas and Niyamas. We've covered the five Yamas, now we're going to roll into the first Niyama. And I like to think of, for a long time I was like, ah, which one is it, Yama or Niyama? What I think of is Niyama, I go Miyama.

This is about me. This is about my own kind of body and how I care for it. So Miyamas, but it is Niyamas. So this one is called Saocha. This is about cleanliness.

Now as all of the others, it can be perceived and thought of and looked at from a lot of different angles. So at first, cleanliness, shower, bathe, how you take care of your body, your clothes, from the outside all the way to the inside. And the inside could be what you eat, what you actually put into your body, how clean is the food, what you intake, eat, drink, etc. Your thoughts, how clean are your thoughts? So maybe it's a good time to pay attention to, throughout the day, what you're thinking about.

Is it productive? Is it helpful for you or anybody else around you? So how clean are your thoughts? And yeah, you know, so, oh, your space. I was just going to like totally forget about that.

Your space around you, your home, your car, where you spend time, is it cluttered with a lot of things? I know for me, every once in a while, I look around my car, look in the backseat, like, I got to clean it out, it's a distraction. And it doesn't feel like I can be my like optimal self in that clean space. Now again, this can be viewed, we all operate, and we all move through this life in different, you know, different manners in different ways. So take that, again, this principle, this virtue, this pillar, and use it as you will.

But that's the information I have on it, that I can honestly share with you. And I think it's beneficial to take a look at sauja, cleanliness, all right? So we're going to use this practice to maybe purify and detoxify the body. We're going to twist quite a bit. So let's see how that feels.

And if you sweat a little bit, maybe you can associate the sweat with maybe some toxins leaving the body. I don't know if toxins are leaving the body or not through sweat, but let's just assume they are, all right? It just feels good to sweat. So maybe you're clarifying and cleaning out a little bit, all right? You with me?

Okay, I'm with you. Let's do this. So we're going to start here. And we've done them a few times because I like them, all right? And it's a great way to start twisting and toning the abdominals, the back body, all right?

Get into the breath and heat the body up a little bit. So they are those kundalini spinal twists. It is a dynamic twisting movement. And again, the way I like to do it, the way I was taught is inhale through the nose and a nice, vigorous, sharp exhale through the mouth, but not a, right? That's how I know it.

You can breathe out of the nose if you'd like. Just pay attention to how you feel while you do it, all right? So again, fingers on top of the shoulders, thumbs on the back, fingers on the front, long spine, and we want to rotate and twist with a long spine, elbows out to activate your upper back body. We'll start nice and slow and build, all right? So inhale to the left.

Keep the core engaged. Keep going even as I'm talking, right? Core is braced, exhale, good work, 10, 3, 2, 1, good. Now maybe just relax the arms, take the left hand back behind you, right hand on the thigh, rotate over to the left, rotate over to the right. And if you really enjoy those, you can continue, or just whether you're doing these practices with me or anybody else, add those to your morning.

They really do amplify and get you kind of pumped for the day. All right, so we're going to lose the block for now, and you're going to come on down to your seat. We're going to continue with this rotation quality, okay? This rotation in the upper body. So actually keep your block if you've got it, and place it in between your thighs.

This will help to ignite and turn on your adductors, your inner thighs. So as always, like a boat pose, we want a long spine, shoulders back. What we're going to do here is squeeze that block, and you might even tremble a little bit, totally normal. Left hand forward, right hand back. Fingertips are grounded, and use that right arm to rotate a little bit more.

So twist to the right, come over to center, twist to the left, okay? And rotate. While you're doing this, you're using your arms to manipulate or to get yourself deeper in the twist for now, and then we'll move into some hands-free style positions, all right, or movements, let's say. Keep squeezing the block, try to keep the spine neutral, right, so you're at this nice angle, and by being at this angle, you've got to engage your core, okay? Now come back to center, arms forward, shoulders back, now it's hands-free.

Reach the right arm back, left arm forward, rotate, good. Rotate to the left, to the right, to the left, to the right, exhale left, exhale right, good, five, five, squeeze the block, four, four, three, three, good, two, two, one, and two. And one, ah, so good. Squeezing that block is really hard, it's just trembling like crazy. Let the block go, fold forward or on your, however you need to, basically come on to your hands and knees.

So we've just warmed up the spine, built up a little heat, now we're going to move through the spine, hips, knees, ankles, all this stuff to continue this like dynamic warm-up. So from child's pose, push back, okay, we'll re-enter this several times, and you're going to come forward on the breath in, the breath out, keep your arms straight, let the hips kind of draw downward toward the mat, and bend the arms, roll down like a reverse upward dog, cobra, good, inhale, cobra, a little upward dog with the knees and hips down, push back into child's pose. So you can see and feel all the different joints that are kind of like, we'll use the word, getting hydrated, right, some movement, some fluidity here. So we come through, lower the hips, bend the arms, come down, try to move the spine as much as you can in this kind of undulating way as we come all the way back into child's pose. Let's do two more, so come forward into table, hips down, loosen the neck, bend the arms and roll down, breathe in cobra, little upward dog, and exhale, good.

And even with those exhales, you know, you can imagine as we come through another one, getting unwanted debris, negative energy to leave the body, right? Negative thoughts, so we're still working with that cleanliness concept and practice on the mat. From child's pose, come on up to tabletop, extend your left leg out, try to ground it as best you can. So the left leg out directly from your left hip, post up nice and strong on the right arm as if you were inside plank, and now we'll continue with this twisting concept, right? So the left hand behind the head, now open up the left elbow as much as you can.

So we're taking the stretch across the shoulders and then the muscular effort is in the back, the upper back between your shoulders. Now on the exhale, it's like cat pose, you're going to engage and ignite the core to draw that left elbow toward your right forearm. Ten times, so there's one, inhale up, exhale two, inhale up, exhale three, inhale up, exhale four, inhale, extra effort in that belly, exhale five, exhale six, exhale seven, exhale eight, exhale nine, doing great, and ten. Bend it all the way back up, well done, left hand comes down, left knee comes down, and we'll swerve that left arm right under for a little thread the needle for a few breaths. So bring the left arm underneath the right, drop that left shoulder and head down onto the mat and find your spot as we take three full breaths here.

One more time, breathe in, and breathe out. Use that right arm to push yourself up and out. You could even take that left arm out one more time, and bring it on down. Let's try the other side. So the right leg extends out directly from your right hip, posting strong on the left arm so you have the support.

Think about it, in all postures, we need a certain amount of stability. Where are the stability points, so then I can work the flexibility or mobility movement here, okay? So right hand behind the head, right elbow reaches to the ceiling, make sure that left arm is screwed into the ground but also connected to the left shoulder and into the back. Breathe in, expand the belly a little bit, breathe out, brace the core like you're doing some abdominal work, and bring that right elbow towards your left forearm. Stretch out like cat pose, the upper back.

Rotate open, inhale, exhale, nine, inhale, exhale, eight, inhale, exhale, seven, exhale, five, exhale, four, stay with it, we've got to take care of our back, three, two, and exhale, one, all the way up, good. Reach up, reach up, reach up, right hand comes back down, right knee comes down, slide the left arm forward a little bit. Let's take it right underneath, we've already been moving this way several times, now we just kind of deepen that movement and pausing it. Knees are hip width, they're a little bit wider. Find that home place where you can actually relax in the shape, where are the stabilizing points, where can you get that stretch, where you know you're doing good work.

One more breath, and use your left arm to come up. Slide the left hand back to shoulder, below the shoulder, reach the right arm out for a little counter pose, and bring it on down, good. Table top, let's throw a cat cow in, it might just feel natural to do so. And cat pose, remember every time, push that ground away, look towards your thighs and hollow out the front of the body as much as you can. Back to flat back, toes curled, downward dog, good, walk it out for a few moments, we're going to ultimately go for like continue with the twisting, right?

Continuing with the rotating, so what we're going to do, you and I together, all right? Ground that left arm as much as you can, your left hand arm is solid, reach the right hand back toward the left calf, wraps around that left calf, it might slide a little bit like I am, reach, take a look under the left armpit, hate that word, hi by the way, rotate, rotate, rotate, back over to center, right hand ground, that right arm is strong now, right? Left hand reaches back to the outer edge, wraps around the calf on the right side, look under the right arm, back up, good, reset and downward dog, walk up to the front of the mat. From here, bend the knees, fold over, grab hold of opposite elbows, tuck the chin and pause. With your feet hip width, pointing forward, straighten out, you can actually grab your block and actually work pretty well here, put it on the medium height, maybe right in the middle between your feet, like in front of your feet, 6 to 10 inches or so, on the medium or low height, okay?

Now straighten out your right leg and bring the left hand up onto the block, so now you've got this flat back. Now rotate the right arm high, so we're in that twisting position again, but we're adding the long right leg, okay? Now bring the right hand back down to the block, bend the right, straighten the left, rotate. You can even take your hand to your chest or your ribcage to encourage that rotation to the left, left arm high. Left arm down and now we kind of flow from side to side, right leg straight, left leg bent, rotate, good, bring it down, switch the bend, right leg bent, left leg straight, left arm high, good.

Can you just kind of go back and forth now a few times? Ideally inhaling as you bring the right arm high and as you bring now the right arm down, you're exhaling to inhale the left arm high. Bring the left arm back down, flat back on the breath in, breath out, fold. You can place the block just in front of the mat, we'll be using it shortly. Rise all the way up on the breath in, side bend to the left, side bend to the right, more good spine movement here, so we've got that lateral flexion from left to right.

So I want you to just kind of hold on to opposite thumbs, interlace your fingers and move from side to side, keep your legs, your feet, your legs strong, there's your stabilizing point again. Your core is stable so that you can move as we're continuing to do from left to right, right to left and back up to center. Take the arms all the way out wide and down by your side on the exhale, good, roll the neck a little bit, close the eyes, bring the palms back to the center of the chest and realign back with this practice of sauja, this cleanliness. On the mat practice, we're cleaning, clarifying, moving, shifting both body and say thoughts, right off the mat in your daily life. Where can you, what can you clean up a little bit?

Clear out, clean up. Okay, let's move through some standing poses together here, inhale, bring the arms up high on the exhale, bend the knees, pitch the hips forward, forward bend. Exhale to your flat back, exhale, fold, step back into plank pose, move the block a little bit further, plank pose and down. Upward dog or cobra, it's kind of always your choice, so many variables involved when that option is given, okay, downward facing dog on the exhale, right leg lifts on the breath in, step it up to the front of the mat on the breath out, land, good, rise high lunge on the breath in. For a moment, reach out, this is actually, it could be part of your movement, reach out, keep the legs strong, bring the block just a little bit closer, okay, so we have access to it.

Now bring it all back up, bring the palms to the chest, lean your body forward, keep the healthy long spine, exhale the left elbow across your right thigh, spinal twist, pressing your palms together. You can also take that left hand toward the floor, right arm high, whatever is kind of most available to you, I really like pressing the palms together, so see what that feels like, press, press, press, pull the shoulder, right shoulder open, left ribcage toward the right thigh, breath is flowing. Come back out of the twist, rise up on the breath in, exhale, center the palms at the chest again, okay, straighten out your right leg and step your left foot forward a little bit more, so step it forward enough so that you can actually ground your back heel, alright, both feet are firmly grounded and preferably your left toes forward, this where your left toes are pointed, your left hip will go further or go in that direction more easily, okay, make sense, we're good, ground your feet, strong and stable in the feet, tiny little micro bend in your right leg, take the right hand into the right hip, push the right hip back just to encourage the hips to be square, reach the left arm forward and then bring it down to the block either on the inside of that foot or on the outside of the right foot, okay, light, don't fold too far, we want to keep that body halfway lifted here, right hand can rest on that right thigh at your back or bring the right hand high, another twist, revolve triangle pose, really important whatever shape you've come into here to breathe, keep pulling the right hip back, left hip forward, keep the hips aligned, getting a crazy long hamstring stretch here also and right hand back down to the hip, oh, oh, oh, almost fell, good, back over to center, flat back, right, block now on the inside of that right foot, same hip position, same positioning of the legs but now we open up the left arm high so triangle with relatively squared off hips, gazing point is high, it's medium or it's low, light on the block, tiny bend in the right leg, triangle, breathe, let's take a breath together here, like we're midway through, like a cleansing, clear it out so breathe in, everything out, like cleaning house, right, negative thoughts, all that stuff, we've all got them, all right, bring the left hand back down, move the block to the left side of the mat and forward a little bit, okay, step the left foot back and we find this runner's lunge position, take the right arm now and open up into another twist, grounding the left hand on the block if you'd like or on the mat up to you, take that left rib, the left rib cage and turn it toward that right thigh, that inner right thigh, bring the right hand down on the inside of that right foot, bring your left knee down, good, so a little moment here with a low lunge, not lifting up but you're staying high on your hands, reach back with the right hand to the left foot, palm is actually on the outer edge of that left foot by your pinky side, so that way you have the capacity to roll that right shoulder open and pull the heel safely toward your seat, you're turning your body, your upper body toward your right thigh as well, so we're still kind of working that twist option, release the left foot, good, drop into the hips for a moment, curl the back toes, right hand down to the mat, left hand down to the mat, lift the left knee and step back into plank pose. From plank pose, you're going to bring your right forearm down to the mat, parallel with the front of the mat, heels over to the right, wipe the sweat, left arm high, now get your breath, take a moment, there's going to be some rotations here, so now the left hand is behind the head, you can stay here or inhale the left elbow toward your right fist or ground and exhale open or inhale high, let's do this one, inhale high, exhale elbow toward the ground, brace the core, inhale high, I know it's hard, stay with it, exhale elbow toward the ground or the fist of the right hand, one more time, breathe in, breathe out, switch it up, you can bring your left knee down for some support, figure it out, how can you do this effectively, right hand behind the head, inhale reaches the right elbow up, exhale brace the core, right elbow toward that left fist or the ground, rotate, inhale for two, exhale for two, inhale for three, exhale for three, back down into forearm plank and we're going to hold this for five breaths, legs are strong, push the heels back, draw your tailbone back toward your heels, firm up through the core, elbows below the shoulders, pull the shoulders back, elongate through the neck, three, two, stay with me, more than anything stay with yourself, don't walk out on yourself here, right, so back up onto your left hand, your right hand for plank, meet and downward dog your chosen way, I'm going to chaturanga down, upward facing dog, breath in and downward dog on the breath out, good job, so a little bit of heat, a little bit of spinal twisting, clean it out, what's really nice about this as well is that the more challenging a practice can be, the more you can kind of like drop all the thoughts, all the unnecessary thoughts because you can only really focus on what is happening now, left leg lifts, breathe in, step into the front of the mat as you breathe out, good, land there, whoo, high lunge, alright let's take a pause for a moment in high lunge, how are you, look at me, this is awesome, all that right, it's clearing it out, cleaning it out, it feels good right, it feels good to like move the body, sweat, tear it out man, and kind of remind yourself of like I'm here, I'm healthy enough to do this now right, so you add a little gratitude to your practice, it's a win, how many wins are there, tons, focus on the wins, let all the negative blah stuff go, alright it's not worth your time, it's not worth your time, okay, I just needed to kind of rant there for a moment so I can catch my breath, palms to the chest, lean forward, okay we're going to come into that twisted option here, you can stay upright, twist just like this, I'm going to meet in that prayer style twist, so lean forward, strong in the legs, balanced, hold the belly in, right elbow crosses your left thigh, wedge it in, wiggle around, find your spot, palms pressed together, turn the right side of your mouth up and your left side of your mouth up, you know honestly when I hear that in a yoga class sometimes it frustrates me because I'm like no I don't want to smile, I'm struggling, but a little smile from time to time feels nice, okay, so we've twisted here, come on out, step forward a little bit with that right foot, straighten the left leg, take a break in that left side, revolve triangle pose, okay, so remember in all these poses where your toes point your hip will go, it's like so important to know that because in this pose we want our hips to be relatively square as we're going to be twisting, right toes forward, right hip forward, slight little bend in that left leg, push the left hip back, back, back, right hip forward, reach the right arm forward, take that block, oh yes, outside of the foot or inside of that left foot, remember we've got this like flat back, you're not forward bending and twisting, flat back, right hand on the block, left hand drives into that left hip, left shoulder now opens up, you can stay here, right, or you can take the left arm high, find a gazing point that helps with your balance, very good, bring the left arm back down, put the block on the inside, that left leg is definitely working here, you can bend it for a moment, straighten, take the lock out, same position in those hips, right, and feet and legs as you open up into triangle pose, right arm high, light on the block with those left fingers, breathing, grounding the feet down, down, down to get that support and stabilization, still in the thick of it here, right, you're still in the practice, you're still doing the work, bend the left leg, bring the right hand back down, move the block out of the way unless you still would like to use it, slide the right foot back, runner's lunge, ground your right hand, however you'd like to for the revolved lunge twist, left arm rises, remember when we're twisting here, the right side of your ribcage now wants to turn toward the inner left thigh, and right now as I'm here with you and I'm on the mat and I'm doing the work and I've got this sweat all over the body, there's nothing negative about it for me, all it is is a reminder of my effort and a reminder of what I might be shedding, right, letting go of this purification, so if that works for you, get down with that, bring the left hand back down, right knee back down, right hand to the mat, now you're going to turn open again, right, so you've got the twist with the knee down, optional foot grab, bend the right leg, reach back, now you see how my hand is on the inside of the foot, my shoulder is rotating forward, so if you turn that hand open, that left shoulder now will open up a little bit better, twisting, lunging, heel toward the seat, a little quad stretch, release that, very good, left hand comes down to the mat, so from the lunge curl the back toes lift the right knee, step it back into plank, this will be our last transition, you call it a vinyasa transition, lower down, your chosen way, upward dog breath in, shoulders back, heart forward and downward dog, bring the knees down, we'll switch up this child's pose a little bit, we're going to do a twisted child's pose, so as you're pushing your hips back, take your right hand, bring it underneath the left arm, so it's like a thread the needle, but pushing the hips back into child's pose, you could even take your left hand interlace to help kind of draw that shoulder over, or the hand over a little bit more, once you get it down, rest your head, rest your head on the floor or your left forearm, good, slowing the breath a little bit, switching gears, let's try the other side, left arm slides over to the right, underneath the right arm, just like the thread the needle, good, use your right arm or hand as a pillow for your head, so you're twisting your body open to the right, toward the right thigh, toward the right side of your room, turning your head toward the right and resting your head somewhere comfortable, okay, let's come back out, you can stretch the arms out one more time, get a full body stretch, good, come forward into table, bring the knees below the hips, hips above the knees let's say, walk the arms forward for a puppy pose, forehead toward the floor, arms reaching out, get that long extended spine, let the belly relax, always bracing the belly right, and the pose like this, it might be nice to kind of like just let it go, walk back all the way to a little kneeling position, reach the arms back, push the chest upward, let the head fall back if that feels okay in the neck, a little rotation so the left hand can go back, right arm reaches across the front of the body, over to the left, just like a little something, right hand behind you, left arm reaching back behind you, very nice, we're gonna come on down to our back now, so come on down, oh yes, take a deep breath in and let a deep breath go, okay let's draw the knees in toward the body for our final movement, cross the legs, grab hold of your outer edges of your feet, so it's almost like a seated pigeon, for me it's more of a, maybe you can access this also is the feet, you know wherever you're pressing into the feet, the outer edges stretch the ankles out a little bit, if there's anything else that calls you here that I'm not going to offer, go for it, spend that time as an experienced yogi to figure out what you need before we close, but for this practice I'd really love to take you into final relaxation now, so bring the feet down and slide the right leg out, slide the left leg out and kind of take a few moments here to wiggle around to feel grounded, so your legs are absolutely comfortable and loose, your torso, the back part of your body is totally grounded and relaxed and comfortable, that includes your shoulder blades and your shoulders and your arms, if you lift the head you could actually cradle the back of your head for a moment to draw the chin in toward the chest, just to kind of stretch out the back of the neck, move it around a little bit and place it back down with a lot of, like you're basically getting this nice stretch through the back side of the neck and once again arms relaxed, palms facing up might feel nice, let's take a breath together, breathe in, let the breath fall out on the exhale, so it's almost like when you exhale like that, that falling out exhale, your body follows suit, it follows behind that quality, so try that again, breathe in, open the mouth and let the breath fall out, let the body fall as well, and breathe relatively natural now, I'd say the only little shift might be add a few seconds onto your exhalation, so you might have a three or four second inhalation, followed by a five or six or seven second exhalation, allow your entire body to relax, which is not easy, it is a skill, it's normal for the mind to race, to be busy, the work might be for you is to choose your thoughts wisely, what kind of thought do you want to host right now and give all of your attention or you dismiss all thoughts, they'll come back and you dismiss again, come back to the breath, come back to the relaxed body, move the fingertips around the toe tips, all the fingers, all the toes, deep in the breath, this is either the beginning, middle of your day, wherever you are with this, as you move off of the mat from relaxation eventually, and if this quality, this practice of Sautja, stretch the arms up overhead, bend the legs, is interesting to you, look around, look around your immediate surroundings, take a look at the food, like what you're putting in your body, your thoughts, that's the off the mat noticing and practice, what needs a little cleaning up, roll up to sit, I feel great, so hopefully, like I feel great sharing that with you, I've cleaned out some things and hopefully that's helped you bring some awareness to this practice called Sautja, so again, I close with this as I am in the process of cleaning myself as well, so I don't come at this with I'm perfect and clean, alright, so working with you, I'm here right there with you, so again, as always, always, always, thank you, thank you for being here and thank yourself, thank yourself, close your eyes for a moment, give yourself a pat on the back for showing up and namaste.


Christel B
5 people like this.
Love all these stabilized twists, wringing it out, definitely feeling it as it's creating that cleansing flow and moving and freeing  my viral cough material.( Hope I'm not being too graphic; just making the point that yes it's moving material that needs to be moved.).Thanks Robert for this cleansing focus.
Robert Sidoti
You're so welcome Christel ... so happy you felt the wringing out affect, especially if you feel it moved some unwanted guck out of the body :)) 
Valerie R
2 people like this.
Wow, I loved the combination of strengthening and twisting postures. And as you suggested Robert,  cleansing for my monkey mind; it took a break :) Thank You!!
Robert Sidoti
Hi Valerie !! Nice to meet you and to 'see' you! I'm so happy you enjoyed this one and were able to take a break from the monkey mind we all battle :)) Thank YOU! 
Donna C
3 people like this.
Thank you Robert. This felt great. Loved the twist and turns. I have a procedure tomorrow and this session calmed me both physically and mentally. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Robert Sidoti
Hey there Donna  - thanks for sharing/commenting here! Hope the procedure went well!! 
1 person likes this.
this felt like i was wringing out my brain as much as my body! very restorative. many thanks, Robert.
Fabian H
Saturday morning twists!   ::))
Anne Marie V
Thank you so much, Robert.
An Y
I've taken your classes over 10 times. Now, even though I've never met you, I feel your energy in person. I feel like I'm practicing in the same place. Thank you for opening and sharing your heart and energy.  Hope you have a best day ever :) It makes me smiling all the time.
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