The Yoga of Service

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Mahatma Gandhi

There are many ways to practice yoga.

I am not talking about how many variations of downward dog we can do or how long we should hold headstand for, rather, there are many approaches to dedicating ourselves to the aim of yoga; the emancipation of our inborn spirit from the limitations of our own perception.

The Bhagavad Gita tells us that one such path, is karma yoga, the yoga of selfless service in which one “Act[s] for the actions sake alone, without attachment to the fruits of action”.  Initially, this may seem like a pretty straight forward and overly simple approach to spiritual development.

“What? No handstand?”

Karma yoga is primarily a mindset, in which one performs acts for the collective welfare.  In karma yoga, one becomes an agent of the creation, in service of the creation.

This is a very different point of reference than our habitual tendency to perform acts for our sole gratification.

History gives us many examples or great heroes of selfless service.  Names like Mahatma Gandhi, Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu and Thich Nhat Hahn come to mind.

This list may seem a little daunting and, the truth is, you don’t have be Mother Teresa before you can be a conscious agent of goodwill and compassion.  Remember, karma yoga is a mindset, it’s more about how we approach what we are doing, than the result necessarily.

The path of karma yoga will look different for everyone, based on their particular circumstances and tendencies in life.  For some, listening attentively to someone (rather than interjecting Your better idea) is a selfless act.  For others, it may mean starting an orphanage in Mozambique.

Each of us has a particular role (dharma) to fulfill in the great playing field of the universe, one that inevitable requires that we take some action, of some kind.  Our very own heart beat depends on this principle.

Yoga practice brings peace and insight to our role within the creation.  Karma yoga is the way in which can foster greater good in the lives of others, indirectly supporting our own development.  As it turns out, we are not so separate.