What Does Yoga Say About Life Off the Mat?
Traditionally, yoga was offered freely in service of the welfare of the whole creation. As students and teachers of yoga, how do we live in alignment with this noble ideal and still pay the bills? How do we live in attunement with yogic principles and fulfill our responsibilities?
Classic yoga offers a method -Karma Yoga.
Most of us are familiar with the word “karma”, it literally means “action”. The word “yoga” refers to a means of spiritual development. Karma yoga is the “yoga of selfless action”.
Typically we perform actions with some degree of self centeredness:
- If “I” purchase this new car, I will gain great social prestige.
- If “I” buy this person roses, they will love “Me”.
- If “I” do handstand in the middle of the room, everyone will think “I AM” Awesome!
It is difficult to not get emotionally invested in our efforts, to expect a certain result and become identified with that result. This will result in one of two outcomes; either disappointment or a temporary sense of self-satisfaction.
Karma yoga asks us take a different approach, to set aside our agenda and act impartially, without attachment to the final outcome.
Acting impartially is not to be confused with apathy. As a yogi, it is necessary to perform actions wholeheartedly, just without getting “stuck” or “attached” to the outcome. Perform all actions for the actions sake alone.
Karma yoga has more to do with the spirit in which we perform actions and has less to do with the outer circumstances surrounding our activity.
One could be working in Mother Teresa’s ashram in Calcutta, tending to the needs of destitute people, all the while thinking about how awesomely selfless they are, and miss out on karma yoga. Or, perhaps someone acts as a farmer who tills the earth in service of the people who will eat the food, accepting a “good” or “bad” crop with equanimity.
The main idea is to recognize any ingrained selfish motive when performing actions and dedicate all actions in service of the highest good.
Just like asana practice, karma yoga is a practice. Karma yoga gives a point of reference in which we can bring the spirit of yoga to all of our actions (including practicing and teaching yoga). It will shine the bright light of self awareness into our activity and can be practiced at every moment.
It does not have to be perfect from the get go – it rarely is.
Learning how to recognize our own motive and choose to live in a universal way is an ongoing process one that will bring greater peace to the world and, in the great cosmic equation, benefits all (including you :)
200 Hr. YTT Open House – Aug. 13
Come find out more about Axis Yoga’s ongoing yoga teacher trainings. This will be a great opportunity to experience a class, meet graduates, get your questions answered and get a taste of what Axis is all about!
Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017 9:30-11am
Sixth Ave. UCC – Upstairs
3250 E. 6th Ave, Denver – 80206