Definition - What does Shoucha mean?

Shoucha is a Sanskrit term meaning "purity" or "cleanliness" and refers to a purity of the physical body, mind and speech. It is one of the yogic niyamas and governs how a yogi should behave.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and texts on Hatha yoga give detailed guidance as to how to achieve all types of purity. It is associated with having time to yourself, and knowing your true Self, your strengths and your weaknesses. Shoucha is considered to be a prerequisite for achieving santosha, or contentment.

Yogapedia explains Shoucha

Shoucha is important on many levels, and is believed to be essential for holistic health and happiness. It is thought that as the self evolves, shoucha, and an understanding of it, will deepen.

Yogic practices such as pranayama and asanas are thought to help cultivate internal shoucha. The "Hatha Yoga Pradipika" describes very specific cleansing techniques called shatkarmas, which help cleanse the body and mind. These include nati (nasal cleansing), nauli (abdominal massage) and trataka (candle gazing).

Excessive speech should be avoided. Self-examination and awareness can help rid the mind of anger, hatred, pride, greed and fear. Mindfulness and meditation will also help purify the mind, particularly when the focus is on the yogi’s intentions, feelings and actions.

It is said by some sources that once purity is achieved, the yogi will no longer have the illusion of the importance of their body and will lose the desire to interact with other bodies. Constant touch with others and physical contact is a barrier to achieving shoucha.

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