Updated: May 25, 2020
When we take on a physical yoga practice or pranayama practice, we’re using, creating and directing powerful energy. In the ancient texts on yoga, there is regular reference to the influences of yoga. The foundations or DNA of our yoga are the niyamas and yamas which have given us great emphasis on improving various body systems.
Ahara (food) is one of the three supporting pillars. Food being referred to as both that we digest through our mouth but also through our mind ultimately responsible for the growth, development and enhancement of our vitality.
Nowadays with science as our modern day language epigenetic activity of yoga practice relays to us that those who practice yoga feel better and show improved cellular metabolism, and better cell function overall. (Lipton B)
So what’s happening?
Much of what seems to be going on is improved resistance to oxidative stress associated with numerous degenerative disorders, this translates into better health overall, with reduced risk of chronic disease.
Yoga’s capacity to modify genetic activity is one more demonstration of the benefits of these age-old practices, and may support the repeated claim that yoga extends both health-span and lifespan. In modern terms we may even be able to say that we are ‘Anchoring the DNA codes of Yoga’ those classically found in in the Niyamas or Yamas. As a Mind-body interventions go it does more than relax us; it has been known to 'reverse' the molecular reactions in our DNAfrom ill-health and depression, to feeling good(study by the Universities of Coventry and Radboud).
As we know stressful events come from the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at the cellular level - a reaction that is useful as a short-lived fight-or-flight reaction, but if persistent can lead to much higher risk of disease such as cancer, and psychiatric disorders like depression. Studies suggest people who practise yoga exhibit the opposite effect and a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene. (Buric I)
Many people who enjoy the benefits of a yoga practice often don’t realise these benefits begin at a molecular level and cause the brain to steer the DNA processes along a path which improves their wellbeing. These molecular signatures of our cells are deeply fond of reversing the effect that stress or anxiety are known to cause. What is usually understated is the level of purification that yoga allows us to process.
Turning up on our mats with a sense of aggression instead of ahimsa (non violence), self-denial instead of satya (truthfulness), laziness instead of tapas (discipline & burning passion) and impurity instead of saucha (cleanliness), means we have to recondition our progress through our sadhana (our practice) and recognise what doesn’t help or what does.
If we take our ‘bad’ habits on to the mat with us, then our practice becomes a lot harder, we have to sift through the ‘impurities’ or negativity we’ve picked up before reaping the benefits of Yoga. The same applies in our lives off the mat.
Saucha in diet
Eating healthily and organically is considered ‘cleanest’ for us. If foods contain lots of preservatives, additives, and pesticides, our bodies have to work hard to detoxify and eliminate these unnatural chemicals before even being able to absorb the goodness. The cleaner our food is the easier it is for our bodies to take up the fuel up and carry them to the cells and therefore easier for prana to circulate our bodies.
Eating inorganic foods covered in pesticides means we have to detoxify our body, before being able to absorb the goodness of our food. It’s the same on our mats. An ‘impure’ way to show up on the mat when we practise, effects the effort and load we have to work through before eventually experiencing the real Yoga alchemy.
Foods in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one's existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such nourishing foods are sweet, juicy, fatty and palatable. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot, are liked by people in the modes of passion. Such foods cause pain, distress, and disease. Food cooked more than three hours before being eaten, or are tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean, is food considered to be liked by people in the mode of ignorance.
The purpose of food is to increase the longevity, purify the mind and aid bodily strength.It is medicine and was selected in ways many years gone to best aid health and increase life's duration. Animals were never harmed so milk products, sugar, rice, wheat, fruits , vegetables and protein have always amply been available through split peas, dal, wholegrains, fruit and vegetables. Perfect for purification perfect for practice and perfect in the the mode of goodness.
‘Saucha' or cleanliness is not just about food it is also of body, mind, spirit & our environment, directing us towards a deep cleanse and purification and positive life.
Withmany shatkarmas cleansing techniques that have been written of in The Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Saucha at home becomes as important as our body’s cleanse, as our environment and too reflects our state of mind. A clean environment surrounded by a few sacred possessions provides a space to breathe, and set clear intentions and feels really good.
Yoga’s daily practices and Dinacharaya offer daily self-care that creates a thriving body mind spirit.
Saucha in the mind
Every thought, word and deed is food for the mind. Having positive thoughts helps us to raise the vibration of the New Earth, one in which we all have a choice in how we act. Letting go of the old beliefs, vibrations and ways that were not working to directing our thoughts towards positivity and the collective raises our vibration.
The concept of Saucha applies in virtually all of the yamas and niyamas; our minds are very powerful, and what we choose to do with them has the ability to make a big impact.
Everything we do shows a sign of respect towards our practice, our Divinity, each other and ourselves. Being clean keeps us ‘healthy inside out’. Spiritual beings having a physical experience, keeping the body healthy, clean allows for more prana to enter in and vibrate out.
Much Love Nisha