You must have heard of karma before. According to the Bhagavad Gita and Indian philosophy, it’s the natural law of cause and effect. If you do good, you will receive good things.
Of course, we cannot always expect good things to happen. Life throws challenging events at us to support our growth and make us stronger. When this happens, we should avoid falling into negative patterns. Non Attachment is a big part of yoga and teaches us to observe the happenings of life rather than suffering.
Acting “well” means helping, sharing, working for the sake of love and kindness, without thinking of a personal reward.
The word karma yoga comes from the Sanskrit and means “action”. Through taking actions that are selfless in nature, we can reach inner peace and true yoga (unity).
There are three types of karma which refer to:
- Sanchita Karma
- Parabdha Karma
- Agami Karma
These types stand for 1. All the karma (actions) of the past life, 2) all the karma (actions) of the present life and 3) all the karma (actions) of the future life.
When we perform real karma yoga, there should be no thought of selfishness. It’s not about what we will get in return. It is not about our personal benefit or reward.
When we perform real karma yoga, we only focus on our present action and less on the thoughts.
So what could you count as karma yoga actions?
It’s a very diverse field and includes cleaning, collecting rubbish, mending, feeding, painting, cooking, serving and much more.
Why is Karma Yoga so important?
When we grow up in modern society, we are taught that we need to be good at school to have a good education. We need good grades to get into a good university. So that we will get a good degree and earn lots of money. So that we can buy a house, car and so on to earn respect and status.
This could not be more far away from the essence of yoga.
Living this life-style, always thinking of personal reward and the future benefit, leads to competition, jealousy, anger and frustration.
Through practising karma yoga, one can take a little distance and feel inner peace again.
Karma Yoga as a Part of the Yoga Teacher Training
At Yoga India Foundation, we practise daily karma yoga as a part of our yoga teacher training programs. Why? It’s such a fun and eye-opening aspect of yoga that makes the whole experience more authentic and real.
We clean together, collect rubbish from the beach, paint the walls, do gardening, and help each other.
Once a month we invite a school for underpriviledged children to the ashram, cook lunch for them and teach a free workshop. All yoga students love to prepare for this and create fun yoga, dance, science and art workshops for the kids.
Without expecting anything in return, it opens our hearts and teaches us to always give with love.