What is Karma Yoga?
Karma means action and reaction. In ancient yogic texts karma yoga specifically means the yoga of action. First, it’s about performing a duty for duty’s’ sake. Doing something because it needs to be done, and not for the reaction it produces. Then, you achieve “moksha” – a sanskrit word meaning “liberation”.
At Shanti Yoga we teach our students about karma and ask that they practice it daily – in small doses. Likewise, we encourage students to perform larger acts of kindness on days off when they have more time.
During a teacher training we encourage our students to practice karma in the following ways:
- Cleaning the yoga shala
- Cleaning other shared spaces
- Random acts of kindness
- Beach cleanup
- Community service
How does Karma help?
Karma Yoga has many benefits.
First, when you perform duty without expectation of reward you’re recognizing that “the self” is not important. Then, you eliminate the “reaction” part of “action”. Finally, this destroys ego.
Destroying ego is good. It refocuses your life. You shift away from acting selfishly and work instead to help others. This is why we are here. It’s our true purpose.
Karma Yoga helps you see the bigger picture. Another way of putting it: there are over 7 billion people on Earth. You, as just one person, do not matter that much. It’s not harsh. It’s just a fact.
Performing karma yoga also helps you reduce expectation and attachment. When you live without these things you eliminate suffering. Therefore, this frees you up to experience pure joy without the usual distraction caused by disappointment.
Who is it for?
It’s for everyone. Truly.
More specifically, it’s great for those who have low self-esteem. By helping others you inadvertently help yourself. You give yourself a purpose. This creates a sense of self worth.
It’s also for retirees. Retired folks have spent their whole life honing a skill. Then, retirement comes and poof – all that knowledge and skill sits there, unused. Retirees are often bored, lonely, and depressed. Why not use the skills acquired over a lifetime to help others? It doesn’t take up much time. And, it provides retirees with something to do and someone to be with. This creates joy.
There is so much to be gained from practicing karma yoga. It doesn’t have to take up much time. And it doesn’t have to be done every day. Can you carve fifteen minutes on a weekend to help someone without expecting something in return? If yes, you’re already on your way to becoming a karma yogi. Learn more at one of our trainings. Find out more here.