“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi
Sure, you’ve heard of Vinyasa, Yin, maybe even Hatha Yoga. But have you heard of Karma Yoga? This modality of yoga practice inspires the commitment to selfless duties without attachment to the outcome, and focusing on the act itself rather than personal gains. Karma Yoga embodies a profound principle of selfless action and service. At its core, it emphasizes several key aspects that extend beyond individual actions, focusing on broader communal and universal welfare.
Advocacy and Awareness
Karma Yoga advocates for raising consciousness and promoting understanding of the lives, experiences, and paths of others. Because of this, Karma Yoga highlights the importance of cultivating an ecosystem of empathy within ourselves and with that a healthy questioning of the systemic structures that drive the world around us. In the context of advocacy and awareness, practitioners of Karma Yoga strive to bring attention to important causes or issues, much like shining a light on societal challenges. This aspect involves educating others, fostering empathy, and advocating for positive change. By spreading awareness, Karma Yogis aim to create a more enlightened and understanding society.
Serving Your Community
This particular yogic practice places immense significance on selfless service to the community. This involves engaging in actions that benefit others without expectation of personal gain. Practitioners perform service as a duty, recognizing the interconnectedness of all beings. Acts of community service, whether big or small, are performed with a sense of compassion. For instance, organizations like food banks, community cleanup drives, or volunteering efforts in healthcare or education exemplify this aspect of Karma Yoga. They serve the community without seeking recognition or personal rewards, solely motivated by the desire to contribute to the welfare of others.
Embodying the Change you Want to See in the World
Those practicing Karma Yoga believe in the intrinsic value of their actions, contributing positively to society without seeking individual benefits. The focus remains on the inherent value of the action itself, recognizing that every positive action contributes to the greater good. Karma Yogis look at the world, at the things they wish were different, and use that as a blueprint for positive action. Don’t like what capitalism is doing to society? A Karma Yogi finds a “Buy Nothing” group and lowers their own consumption. They go to local Farmer’s Markets and look to buy sustainably farmed foods, when their budget permits. Does the litter on the beach or streets get you down? A Karma yogi puts on some gloves and gets to work. You might find that Karma Yoga is deeply tied to working on the ego, and finding more Santosha, or blissful resilience, in the humbling work of cleaning up messes you yourself did not make. Whether that’s cleaning up after your neighbors dog or writing to your senator, Karma Yoga isn’t always pleasant, but it is important for inner growth and wisdom.
Central to Karma Yoga is the belief in the interconnectedness of all living beings and that all actions affect the collective consciousness and the universe as a whole. This interconnectedness motivates actions that benefit all, reinforcing the idea that the welfare of one is intrinsically linked to the welfare of all. When it comes the Karma you can see in action at yoga studios, free classes on the schedule, like our Celebration of Learning classes, PLAY’s and other studio’s Karma cleaning programs, and donation-based classes for non profit organizations like Megan’s upcoming Yoga Beat class with proceeds going to Autism Speaks, are all examples of Karma Yoga.
You can start your Karma Yoga journey today and sign up to join Megan 12/2/23 at 7am for a Level 1-2 Heated Vinyasa with fun, upbeat music, and feel free to donate what you can to Autism Speaks. Even just showing up and sharing information about the organization on your social media is a great way to raise awareness for an organization making efforts for the greater good.