The second of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga is the niyama, or personal standards and individual behaviors for living soulfully. Like the yama, there are five principles that make up the niyama. The first of these is sauca, or purity.
Purity, or cleanliness, of the body means not only keeping the body externally clean through bathing but also internally through actions like eating clean, whole foods and the use of neti pots. Keeping the body pure also involves our yoga practices of asana (physical movement) and pranayama (regulation of life force through breath).
Our asana and pranayama practices not only work to purify the body but also help to purify the mind, helping us move toward stillness. Meditation takes us further along this journey by cleansing the mind of disturbing thoughts and emotions like hatred, passion, anger, lust, and greed. By stilling and purifying the mind, we are able to see that we are more than our vacillating emotions and transitory thoughts. We are able to direct our energy to positivity and the higher Self.