Karma Yoga

Karma yoga and giggling through corpse pose

YOGA SEW-ON PATCH When did the girl scout pledge change?  Why didn't anyone tell me?  Here is a service announcement to those of you who are unaware, THE GIRL SCOUT PLEDGE HAS CHANGED.  I certainly didn't know this, and it startled me as I sat in front of a group of brownies nervously waiting to teach yoga to these second graders.  I probably wouldn't have been in front of these lovely gals learning the new girl scout pledge if I hadn't been taught how important Karma yoga was.

The YTT program I attended was big on what was called Karma Yoga.  Karma yoga is teaching yoga for free, no personal financial gain.  This is an important concept, we have so much, most of us have more than what we need daily.  In fact if you are sitting in a warm house with a full belly reading this, then you (like me) are privileged.  This is a place of abundance.  Most of us have an abundance in our lives although often times we are too focused on what we don't have to realize what we do have.  Karma yoga is a way to give back and to remind you of how much you do have and where you can share. Karma yoga highlights where you can give and how much you have.

Think back in your life about all of things that were given to you.  Parents who chose to give selflessly over and over again, teachers who often go above and beyond the call of duty, coaches who might have been working with you on a volunteer basis often after a full day of work or taking away from their own work or family time, mothers taking extra time to lead a brownie troop.  Your boss that believes in you who is willing to come in early to help you work on a presentation during their own personal time.  The long time mentor that checks in on you and is willing to write a letter of recommendation you need for a program you're applying to.  The list probably gets long fast.  Others have helped us through our whole lives.  The big question is where will we choose to become the helper?

These are things I mull over often, it's clear to me that I live a life of privilege and abundance.  With privilege and abundance come responsibility.  It's not enough for me to go to work, teach yoga, go home make dinner and repeat.  I need to put something back into my community.  Giving back is something I've been wanting to do more of this year.  The studio schedule including more free community classes this year because that is a focus for me personally.  We are also working on expanding a work-study program so that anyone who wants more yoga in their life will not have to let money be a reason they don't do yoga.  Even bigger than within the doors of my studio there is a need.  There are people who need yoga and they don't even know they needed it yet.  There are seeds of yoga that need to be planted and I'm going to have to get outside the doors of the studio to be able to do that.  My skill is yoga which means I should share what I do well and I can only reach so many people at the studio.

So far in January I've taught two Karma classes outside of the studio, one working with Greensboro youth council and another tonight with a Brownie Troop.  I'll be the first to admit this is way outside my comfort zone.  Working with children alone is difficult for me.  Working with grade school or high school was never something I felt "called" to do but here is where there is a need.  I'm not entirely sure how to connect with kids so I was stretching my yoga skills way beyond the normal adult classes I've been teaching.  Luckily these two groups have been kind, and worked well with me allowing me to share what knowledge I can in an hour.  I'm still certain that working with youth is not my calling, but it doesn't mean that I can't do it every once in a while to share my knowledge or plant the seeds of yoga.  My goal is to teach a karma class at least once a month outside of the studio.

This Karma yoga has been greatly challenging, but I'm certain even though I'm not receiving any monetary gain, and it's been difficult to fit into my already packed schedule, I'm definitely the one profiting.  By teaching these different groups, I learn more about myself, more about the art of teaching yoga, and hopefully am becoming a better steward of my community in the process.

In life giving back to my community feels important, I don't want to just take.  Tonight I got giggled at all through savasana.  I also felt dumb, and raw, because kids are great at seeing right through you.  I also wondered if I was speaking to them in a real way, in the way my 2nd grade self would have like to have been spoken to.  Then I prayed I was sharing something of value with them, crossed my heart and hoped that someday they would remember the way plow felt, or the way happy baby seemed fun and ridiculous all at once.  That hour with them was not easy.  In fact all of the Karma yoga I've taught this year has been difficult and challenging way beyond the normal challenges I face teaching yoga in a studio.  I don't know what else to say about it.

Heres to hoping it makes a difference.  Heres to hoping that this helps others deeply.  If you have a gift, a talent, free time or energy, consider sharing it, there are those that need you and if you don't who will?