When I was in my early 20’s I developed a weird compulsion for vacuuming my floors. (I say weird because my mother can attest that I was not compulsively neat in high school and my floors then we’re covered in clothes and teen fashion magazines).
However, in my 20’s it was the first time I lived in an apartment by myself, not a room at home, not a dorm but a small apartment (with not much floor to vacuum but still a place I lovingly called home). I didn’t sweep the floors or vacuum up dust because there was something inherently dirty about the space. It was a lovely space in a lovely city, but the reality of this world, this material realm, is that dust collects. A practice of cleansing is needed to maintain the beauty that exists in a pure state. Apartments are like our bodies and minds, in that they provide a home for beauty and life, but they require upkeep, love, and care. There are 6 main categories of kriyas or cleansing in yoga philosophy. These kriyas are practices meant to be repeated again and again by yogis, day after day, week after week, month after month, just like we brush our teeth. At Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training we were given excellent instruction and we practiced these 6 kriyas. For me, unlike Asana and meditation, they were not as easy to continue on a daily basis after returning to my daily life after teacher training. Chapter 6 in Sharon Gannon’s Magic 10 and Beyond book, called sweeping the way, established a solid kriya practice in my daily life.
Along with information on specific kriyas, Sharon gives such a clear step by step way of practicing, so I never felt unsure ~ “Am I doing this right…Did I mess up the order…Did I miss a step, forget to plug in the vacuum or empty the dustpan…”? I loved the chapter and the practice and a small part of my whirling mind wondered ” Is there any scientific evidence supporting this ancient yoga thing? Am I really cleansing anything by locking my abdomen in and up or do I just look weird”? What I found was that I knew it worked when I did it. As Sri Pattabhi Jois said yoga is “99% practice, 1% theory.” in this spirit, all ten of the magic practices are intended for us to do, to practice and to bring to life. I look at the example of someone like our beautiful teachers Sharon Gannon and David Life and see the evidence in their radiance. Something is working and I know that I want whatever that is. I want to see that radiance in others and I want to share that joy with others. There is pure light in us all, but somehow we forget and we may get stuck in the dust, a layer covering the Truth of who we are. So I vacuum and I sweep and I practice these simple but powerful tools of yoga. We are given a method of sweeping the way – sweeping the path to joy, and sweeping the path to yoga! Let’s uncover the magic of who we are.
1. Explore all options listed in the Magic 10 and Beyond book and decide what feels most effective and appropriate for your life.
2. Make brushing your teeth into a conscious yoga practice: Be aware of each moment, each step in this simple practice that we do over and over again . No moment is wasted and this loving upkeep is a cleansing practice that can be “yoga” is we see it as such .
3. Clean your home (or better yet ) a neighbor’s home or shared office space) apprenticing the space and opportunities it gives while enjoying the opportunity to assume responsibility for it’s upkeep and care.
4. Explore cleansing practice in your diet. Am I eating sustainable, cutely free options that keep my body , mind and karma’s pure? Lighten up , Go vegan !