Karma yoga -- or the discipline of action -- is a concept found in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita (and being the total techno geek that I am, I recently downloaded the Gita to my G1 phone so I can read a sloka or two while on the train or waiting for something). Karma yoga focuses on following one's dharma (role, duty) while remaining attached to its reward. Basically, you act for the sake of acting in accordance with your dharma rather than act to achieve a certain outcome. This has been extrapolated down over time so that Karma yoga is now considered unselfishly performing duties for the greater good.
Many folks in the yoga community take karma yoga very seriously. It warms my heart to see all of the wonderful things that yoga teachers are doing by donating their time and skills to those in need. On this feel-good Friday, I'd like to highlight just a few of these worthy causes. If these don't make you want to jumpstart your karma yoga practice, then I don't know what will...
Cause: War Vets Yoga for Vets launched a few years ago with a worthy but simple mission -- to offer free yoga to returning troops and prior war vets. Whether you know a vet who could use some yoga in his/her life or you'd like to donate your time and/or studio to the cause, check out the Yoga for Vets Web site.
Cause: Cancer Survivors Nowadays the majority of people have somehow been touched by cancer -- whether its being stricken with the disease themselves or having a friend or loved one being diagnosed with some form of cancer. The wonderful folks over at Yoga Bear are devoted to helping cancer survivors heal through yoga. Yoga Bear matches cancer survivors with free yoga classes in their community. Check out the Yoga Bear Web site to get involved, donate your time, or help a cancer survivor take control of their healing.
Cause: Expanding Yoga Beyond the Mat & into the Community The Karma Krew, a "service inspired non-profit organization whose mission is to mobilize
the collective energy of the yoga community to expand the practice
beyond the walls of the studios and into the hearts of our communities" is running a nationwide yogathon next month. Here’s how it works — you get people to sponsor you for each yoga class
you take during the month of May. All of the donations go to Karma
Krew, whose latest intitiatives include service-inspired yoga retreats
and weekend workshops; mind-body wellness outreach for underserved
populations; programs for Karma Yoga certification for teachers and
studios; and the creation of an affiliate network of Yoga studios
which, with our support, are now offering students and their families
effective ways to regularly practice karma yoga. Click here for more yogathon information and information on donating and registering for the event.
As a little inspiration, I offer up a quote from Indira Gandhi: "Have a bias toward action - let's see something
happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the
first step right away."
Acting from an intention to make a different makes all the difference. That's my take on it. Have fun practicing Karma yoga!