Every winter season brings a plethora of illnesses, and blogs about prevention to go with it! Most, however, do not talk about how preventing the spread of colds and flu has a lot to do with a specific yoga philosophy! What? Believe it or not, trying our best to live consciously and not harm others by keeping ourselves and environment clean is part of the Eight-Fold Path. Now obviously, we can do our very best and flu still happens which is nobody’s fault, but we can try to do our part with a little effort because we are yogis.
Saucha means to be pure, or strive to keep yourself clean. When we have cluttered work spaces, homes, or cluttered minds, we become overwhelmed. Quite literally, our space is the perfect nesting ground for viruses and bacteria. On top of that, if we are stressed due to an overworked mind, our bodies are ready and ripe to allow the ‘yucks” to infiltrate. We must practice saucha by purifying our spaces and bodies so as to prevent getting sick. This does not involve magic or potions! It just means cleaning up a little and setting aside time to let our minds relax – to meditate!
If we do not practice saucha, we risk a greater chance of falling ill, or worse, spreading that illness! Which in fact leads to another principle in yoga, Ahimsa.
Ahimsa means “non-harming”. Obviously, when you get sick and spread it, you don’t mean to get others sick. It still happens though, right? Reframing keeping clean and practicing good hygiene is a way to not only practice saucha, but ahimsa as well. You know how awful you feel when you have the sniffles, imagine how terrible it is when we are talking about the flu! Ahimsa is considering ahead and thinking about our friends who simply can not get sick. One simple way to do our part is to really up our saucha game!
As yogis, it’s valuable to take our yoga off the mat by learning about some of these principles and doing what we can to practice them in everyday occurrences. It may seem like a stretch to think of flu season and yoga philosophy, but when we do, it helps us to commit to our best mind and behavior.
So maybe now that flu season is upon us, go home and write a list on the fridge giving everyone a job to help prevent against illness, such as wiping the counter and doorknobs with antibacterial wipes. Maybe you spend a little extra time washing hands and reminding everyone to do the same. Maybe you watch a video on how illness spreads and why to stay home if you don’t feel your best. Most of all, take time to decompress your mind and relieve stress so that you aren’t prone to illness. All of these things demonstrate practicing saucha and ahimsa and are totally part of being yogis.