When I first arrived at my yoga teacher training course in India, I was enthusiastic to find out that our course schedule not only included asana, pranayama and meditation classes but also ayurveda and Emotional Blockage Treatment. But the one class that took me by surprise was Karma Yoga. I’ve always known about karma and yoga, but had never heard the two put together. I soon realised that it had nothing to do with being on my yoga mat.
In our first karma yoga class at my yoga school, Gyan Yog Breath, we were told that we were heading downstairs to tend to the ashram’s garden. Being a lover of spending time in my own garden at home, I absolutely loved this idea. The Karma Yoga classes that followed in the next few weeks involved cleaning the ashram, painting and community service work.
Anyone who’s done their 200hr yoga teacher training course knows that yoga goes way beyond the poses, or yoga asanas. It is founded in a philosophy of union and revolves around the concept of oneness where each of us plays a part of a universal consciousness. Essentially, we all need to be involved with serving our communities and being part of something bigger than ourselves.
Karma yoga defined is the discipline of selfless action, where one does their duty at their best without any involvement of ego or attachment. It is the yoga of action or duty where we learn kindness and compassion without an expectation of gain. I learnt that this was the first step to moving away from my ego, act from pure intentions and connect to the bigger picture – a step closer to self-realization. By checking in with the principles of karma yoga, and consciously making an effort to incorporate it into your everyday life, you’ll soon appreciate that it allows you to lead a more fulfilling life.
So how do you practice karma yoga into your daily life? Remember that karma yoga is the union of individual consciousness with the collective consciousness, so really, the options are endless. Here’s how I’ve put it into karma yoga into practice in my daily life.
Becoming self aware is the first step to practicing a life of karma yoga. Once you become more aware of your own life and actions, you create a path to taking care of the world around you. And no, this isn’t being selfish. A happy, healthy and peaceful life starts within yourself before you can inspire others to do the same.
Compassion and positivity are contagious, it facilitates the desire for a happy world. Appreciate everything and find gratitude even in your challenges.
Respect and love everyone and every living thing that you encounter. A simple greeting with a smile goes a long way in people’s hearts.
Be aware of everything that you think, do, say and use in the world. Keep your house and neighborhood clean, recycle, help keep the air around us clean. Save, save, save – whether it be water, energy, paper. We all share this world and in the end, It all contributes to the greater good of our future generations.
Brett is the founder of Uplifted Yoga, an online yoga and meditation community empowering students to personalize their practice and ignite their best life – on and off the mat. She’s instructed at top studios, companies like Google and Pinterest, and leads the world’s most interactive Online Yoga Teacher Training program. She teaches to a social media following of over 350K people. Her content on Youtube is streamed for 3 million minutes each month. Learn more at BrettLarkin.com