Spring is the perfect time to start anew, tossing away old things that are no longer serving us in a positive way, making room for growth & change. With it's new life and new energy, springtime gives us the perfect opportunity to give ourselves a nice deep cleaning - mind, body, and soul. By shedding the things that are no longer serving us, we make room for the new things the universe is just waiting to give us. This cleansing of our life brings forth new transformations in our yoga practice, both on and off the mat.
Cleanliness, known as saucha, is one of the five niyamas, or personal observances, of the Eight Limb Path of Yoga. As translated by T.K.V. Desikachar, Patanjali says, “When cleanliness is developed, it reveals what needs to be constantly maintained, and what is eternally clean. What decays is the external. What does not is deep within us.” This cleanliness not only refers to keeping our physical body clean, but also includes the cleanliness and purity of our mind, both in our thoughts and intentions. Having to dig even deeper, we must also keep our soul clean – meaning we must keep negative emotions from cluttering our heart space. It’s important to clear out and let go of the past that keeps us from moving closer to a life filled with compassion, gratitude, and love. Keep reading to find our list of helpful hints on how to spring-clean your environment, body, mind, & soul.
1. Clean Up Your Environment
As obvious as it may seem, it’s important to at least touch base here. De-cluttering our personal space is beneficial for productivity and mental clarity. As you reorganize your space, be sure to toss out the things that are no longer useful or purposeful in your life. From old books we don’t need or socks missing it’s mate – parting with these items lighten the load in more ways that one.
Once our space is clean, we need to think about cleaning up our habits. Whether it’s binge eating, excessive tv watching / web surfing, or unhealthy habits like smoking and overconsumption of alcohol – getting rid of these negative behaviors gives us more time to make more positive choices.
Lastly, we need to de-clutter our relationships. This takes a little more time and a little more effort. Although challenging, it’s good for the mind, body & the spirit to rid ourselves of those toxic relationships that seem to only take us backwards. Sometimes these relationships are with people we really love, but in the long run we must remember to do what is best for ourselves.
2. Cleanse the Body – Inside & Out
It probably goes without saying that a diligent personal hygiene routine is necessary to maintain a level of ideal health. Cleansing our body removes dirt and other impurities from our largest organ – our skin. The skin is our protective shell, so it’s important to keep this layer of defense in optimal health. Beyond the outside, we must also keep the inside of the body clean as well. We can do this in three simple ways: Movement, Breath, and Diet.
Incorporating movement into our daily routine is critical for our health and well being. Developing a steady yoga practice can benefit the body in several ways. Our asana works our entire body – every muscle, every organ, every system, every cell. Leaving no stone unturned, our yoga postures also exercise our minds - increasing our focus, concentration, stamina & endurance. Begin by taking just a little bit of time stretching each morning or before bed. Notice where in your life you can add a little more movement & start integrating it into your routine. Soon, you notice and feel the difference!
With movement comes breath, an equally integral part of obtaining optimal health. Pranayama (breath work) helps exercise and cleanse the lungs with mindful, rhythmic breathing. These exercises also help oxygenate the blood, leaving us feeling refreshed & energized. Pranayama also helps calm & focus the mind while increasing the flow of prana – our life energy. Start by taking a few moments each day to notice your breath, gradually working your way through pranayama breathing exercises. The best part? Benefits are instantaneous.
One of the best things we can do for our body is clean up our diet. What we put into our body determines how the body will be able to perform & function. If we are constantly filling up on junk, our bodies will not perform as well as they could be. When we only fill up on the good stuff, the body is more able to perform to the best of its ability. Processed foods, carbonated beverages, bleached flour & sugar are highly detrimental to our health. We must eliminate these from our diet and incorporate more whole, real foods. Fruits, vegetables, leafy greens & spices are the key to getting all the daily nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy.
3. Cleanse the Mind
Next to cleaning up our diet, clearing our mind is also very beneficial to our overall well being. For what we think, we soon become; so it is important to keep our mindset present, positive, and focused. Meditation is a wonderful tool for exercising and calming the mind. Taking just a few moments a day to find ourselves in stillness with our thoughts, we find that the weight of the worlds gently gets lifted from our shoulders. These few minutes of quiet do magical things for stress, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. Even incorporating a daily mantra on our lives can have powerful effects.
4. Cleanse the Soul
Now that we’ve cleaned up our environment, our body, and our mindset, we must now seal the deal with a cleansing of the soul. For a lot of us, this is easier said than done. To give our soul a good cleansing, we must open our hearts and make ourselves vulnerable to both the past and also to the unknown. A good soulful cleanse starts with letting go of negative emotions that are keeping our hearts closed and ‘protected’. Anger, frustrations, regret, guilt, grudges, grievances, jealousy, comparison and passing judgment are just to name a few. The emotions cause stress on the body, creating imbalance in mind, body, & spirit. By mindfully choosing more positive emotions, we bring ourselves back to balance and find a sense of love, compassion & inner peace. In order to let go of these negative emotions, we must practice acceptance. When we begin to accept things for the way they are - knowing we can’t change the past and realizing we can’t predict the future, - we begin to start living in the present moment.
Detaching ourselves from negative emotions is only part of the battle. In order to truly wipe our soul slate clean, we must also find the courage and strength to always speak our truths. Speaking only truthful words, being honest in all things, we must also remember to be true in our intentions. Our intentions behind our actions decide what kind of energy we put out into the world. Beyond honesty in our words, we must also remember to stay true to our beliefs and morals. Having strong conviction with our ideals and principles, we must stay loyal even in the most challenging situations. Speaking our truths allow us to feel released from the confines of “holding stuff back,” and experiencing a sensation of being free.
The final step of any good soul cleanse is mindfully welcoming in new life, energy & love. Making ourselves vulnerable, Rumi says we must “Open our hands if we want to be held.” We must be open and ready to accept love before we can actually receive it. Once we are ready to receive, we shall – we just need to find a way to get ready. By clearing the heart of negative emotions & making peace with our past, we soften our hearts and create new space for love & compassion.