Practice Karma Yoga
Posted on April 25th, 2017
There are four paths to achieve a balanced life in yoga. These four traditional yoga schools, which work together, are bhakti (devotion and love to others), raja (tools that deal with transcending the mind), karma (service to others) and jnana (self-study and introspection). Although each is important and necessary to live a balanced life, I would like to focus specifically on karma yoga.
Today’s society emphasizes the self. It’s important, of course, to meet our basic needs because our own cup should be filled before we can effectively help others. While it’s healthy to prioritize our needs, we must not fall into the trap of too much focus on the self. This is where karma yoga can be a guide. Thank yogi saints who compiled the texts to keep us from straying from our center!
Karma yoga is the selfless action of doing for others. When we do something for the pure good of helping another, we open and purify our heart chakra. We are more connected with our true spiritual self and thus experience less suffering when our heart chakra is open. (If you’re not familiar with the chakras, the heart chakra is emotionally connected to feelings of love, joy and inner peace. It is said that when we transition from the three base chakras (root, sacral and solar plexus) to the heart chakra, it is the place where the physical and spiritual unite.)
Since karma yoga is essential to connect to the soul, here are some ways to practice it daily:
Get rid of old clothes
We don’t need an excessive amount of stuff to be content. Every so often go through your closet and get rid of what you don’t need. This can be hard for kapha types as they tend to develop sentimental attachments. Be thorough and remember that these objects will help someone else who really needs them.
It’s much more comfortable to share only our happy moments. Life is messy, however, and the truth is we all have our own ‘baggage’. The next time life throws an unexpected hurdle your way, be brave and share your story. There are others experiencing something similar. By choosing to open up, you connect to them and they know they are not alone.
Donations to your favorite charity are wonderful but there are many other ways to give that don’t require money. Give your valuable time. Even something as simple as opening a door for someone who is struggling makes a difference. Give your attention and focus to someone who is having a rough time. Listen to their story. Donating isn’t just about money.
Many people are angry and rude, especially in stressful places like airports. The next time someone cuts you off or makes you angry, be it a friend or stranger, respond with compassion. Who knows what problems that person may be struggling with so, as hard as it might be, practice karma yoga. Send them good vibes and give them a smile. Karma yoga is all about being un-attached to the results. Don’t get frustrated if kindness isn’t reciprocated.
The practice of karma yoga never stops. There are countless ways to show kindness. Focus on incorporating kind acts into your daily routine. Even if you don’t have time to get on the mat, you are still practicing yoga as karma yogi!
Love and good vibes!