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Karma is the Yoga of action. Not the act of doing something for the sake of a result. But instead the act of action without attachment or concern for the result. The intention of the action instead the result of the action is the main focus in karma yoga. Also Karma Yoga goes to great length to discuss the philosophy that you reap what you sow. If you always have good intentions, and are acting in a way that is intended to be positive then you will reap the benefits of your actions at some time maybe even you next life. Even if your good intentions reap negative results the positive benefits of your good intentions will have good karma for you. The opposite is also true. Negative or evil intentions and actions will reap negative and bad karma for you. Many people have twisted the idea of karma to mean that if I do something for you then you are indebted to me or you will have bad karma. This is not what the philosophy of karma as discussed in the Bhagavad Gita is all about.
April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015
Yoga Teachers and Volunteerism
If you already understand the restorative power of Yoga, the next step is bringing it to those in need. That idea motivates the thousands of individual teachers and practitioners who have combined public service and the service to self through Yoga volunteering.
When I was attending Yoga teacher training as an intern at Aura Wellness Center, some of us taught classes at a local homeless shelter for families that really needed it. Every community has homeless families who can't afford a roof over their head. Their activities are getting the next meal in a soup line or out of a dumpster.
Some of the concepts in these volunteer projects are strikingly innovative. The Prison Yoga Project was started in 2002, using Yoga to help heal addictions. Its founder, James Fox, is trained in violence prevention and conflict resolution and has more than 20 years of experience with Yoga. He also studied with Fr. Joe Pereira, who is the director of the Kripa Foundation that runs more than thirty addiction recovery facilities within India, and uses meditation and Yoga for their rehabilitation programs.
The Yoga in Schools program, started in 2005, has exposed 18,000 students from kindergarten to 12th grade to Yoga programs and educated 1,000 teachers in the Yoga principles since its inception. The program's mission is to teach lifetime wellness skills, clearly a priority in today's obesity epidemic. In a similar vein, Sprout Yoga is an organization providing free Yoga classes across the country to those suffering from eating disorders, because everyone "deserves to be at ease with themselves and their bodies."
Street Yoga is perhaps one of the best-known Yoga volunteer groups. Its mission is to teach Yoga, mindful breathing and compassionate communication to families and individuals struggling with homelessness and other associated problems.
The common thread through these worthy projects is the idea of Yoga as a unifying force and skill set, rather than as a hand-out. People in marginalized positions, such as prisoners, children, the homeless or the ill are not taught that they are valuable members of society. The message of Yoga- that you practice it for yourself, as a non-competitive physical and spiritual activity- may be entirely new for these initiates. There is evidence-based research on the health and mental benefits of undertaking Yoga, so they may be certain that what they are trying is worthwhile.
I encourage all of you to look at your communities and consider when and where your skills as yoga teachers could make a difference for those in need. Most studios offer at least one community, donation-based class, because sharing Yoga is a principle. Taking Yoga training one step farther, to the outside of our studios, can be an extremely rewarding process.
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