As I prepare to embark on silent meditation retreat with my dear Three Jewels sangha I am reminded of the two Niyamas Michael and Brian share below, Saucha, or purity, and Ishvara Pranidanah, or surrender. Retreat is such a perfect opportunity to cleanse the mind as you have the opportunity to be completely selective with all that you consume for a few days. In my first experience on silent meditation retreat, I found surrender essential when working so intimately with the mind. I am so thankful for the opportunity to move deeply into this practice with the support of these precious jewels.
Allison Joy Phillips, Director of Yoga
SAUCHA | Shared by Michael McSwain
Although yoga teachers extol the virtue of wearing clean underwear to class, it's not exactly what Master Patanjali had in mind to describe saucha. So before we all jump in the shower and catch up on laundry in the name of saucha, let's see how this millennia-old concept stacks up to our modern cleaning rituals.
It's become comically easy to live in a 'clean' environment these days. Our daily culture even caters instant, effortless cleanliness. We use brand names like verbs, but we can't swiffer and purell our way to saucha.
Saucha in the yogic sense is deeply concerned with inner purity as much as outer purity. Inner purity is not just about getting the dirt out--it's also mindfully knowing what you put in. How pure is the food you eat? How pure are the books you read? The music you listen to? The news you absorb?
Saucha can be cultivated and tended by consuming higher quality nutrition--in all its forms. What we feed our minds and bodies becomes the foundation of what we work with on and off the yoga mat. Our mood, our thoughts, our senses, our physical and mental strength, our capacity for self-realization--these things are only reliable when we know the mind and body are operating from a pure and clean slate.
Some folks (like me) do their best thinking in the shower. So the next time you're washing away all that NYC grit, consider the ways you can also keep your inner world just as fresh and so clean clean.
ISHVARA PRANIDANAH | Shared by Brian Cooney
I initially met this Niyama, which means surrender to a higher power, with difficulty. It brought up similar discomfort I felt as a child when force-fed the dogma of Catholicism, which I did not connect with.
Generating reverence for a teacher was a foreign concept for me until I was introduced to it as part of Three Jewels Meditation Teacher Training. Likewise, I struggled to understand and really dive into this preliminary of meditation.
Since beginning the journey of Three Jewels Sarva Yoga Teacher Training, I have developed reverence for my teacher, Michael Hewett. Watching Michael mindfully walk his path with humility and devotion, has awakened me to the possibilities that I can do likewise. He has so drastically expanded my awareness and conceptualization of yoga feels like such a gift.
Practicing gratitude and opening up my heart has helped me to integrate the idea of Ishvara Pranidanah into my practice and it continues to reveal new depths as I become more steady and committed to the path.