The Yoga Sutras and "The Cleanse" by Mary Jane Ryan-Connelly
A cleanse can be done for both health & spiritual reasons. As such it shows care and respect for oneself. Yet, when the energy needed to process food is freed up, we notice a sharpening of the senses, a mental acuity, a calmer self, that leads to awareness of an Other within us, and the responsibility we have for the well-being of our neighbor. Thus, a cleanse can also be an intentional abstention from food and drink on spiritual grounds.
Yoga embraces many world spiritual traditions. The Eight Limbs of Yoga provide us with yamas or abstentions and niyamas or observances to guide us on the spiritual path to union with the true Self within.
Among the yamas, no-sensuality or brahmacharya invites us to practice self-restraint and moderation in all things. Tapasya or discipline, is the corresponding niyama. Closely related is saucha, cleanliness or purity. The living out of these carry marvelous outcomes!
"When the body is cleansed, the mind purified, and the senses are controlled, joyful awareness needed to realize the inner Self also comes," teaches the Yoga Sutras. Discipline, the niyama supporting us in this endeavor is said to "burn away impurities and kindle sparks of divinity." Well worth going after!
Along with a cleansing fast, the body is also cleansed by the regular practice of yoga asanas and pranayama which remove toxins and bring fresh blood to the inner body. Consider also the yoga of daily life and the potential "cleanse" for sight, hearing and speech where moderation or the more uplifting choice is made intentionally in what we choose to see, listen to or say.
In all of this, discipline or tapasya is the guiding force. Discipline appears as a regular, uninterrupted practice of all aspects of yoga - asanas, pranayama, meditation, training the senses, serving others. The Sutras tell us it is cultivated over a long period of time and done with "full devotion and burning zeal". Discipline brings about the ultimate cleanse, the extinguishing of self-will and self-centeredness, opening us to living out of the love and wisdom of the true Self within.
Mary Jane Ryan-Connelly teaches Sunday Morning Yoga, Beginning Meditation, facilitates the Nevada County Blue Mountain Meditation Group and is a school social worker for youth in foster placement.
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