Shaucha

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Shaucha (शौच), purity, is one of the Niyamas of Yoga or Hinduism. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and Patanjali's text. It may also mean to cry with tears; pointing to the cleansing crying gives when one is defiled by the sorrow caused by the departure of a relative or a friend, or after a catastrophe[1].

Purity and cleanliness are highly emphasized. Shaucha, or holistic purity of the body, is essential for health, happiness and general well-being. External purity is achieved through daily ablutions, while internal purity is cultivated through physical exercises, including asana (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques). The mind is purified throughout the disciplines of mindfulness and devotional yoga (Bhakti). It is through devotional (selfless) practices that the mind is cleansed and fortified by eliminating disturbing emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, greed, delusion and pride. The impurities of the intellect (self-righteousness, inflexibility of mind, strong opinions and convictions) are burned away through the process of Self study (svadhyaya). When the mind is lucid it is non-judgmental and in balance. It dwells at a higher level of cognition. The practice of Shaucha elevates the yogachatra (student) to a comprehensive bird's eye view of the world. As the yogachatra acquires strength and knowledge, Shaucha guards the mind, body and spirit against the base elements of illness, disease, deception and mental anguish.