I am the first to admit that my first encounter with yoga was purely for physical benefit as most beginner students. However, as my practice and teaching has evolved I have become extremely in tune with my actions and reactions to life encounters on and off my mat. Lately, I am focusing my efforts on the concept introduced in the Bhagavad Gita (ancient Indian text meaning “Song of the Lord”) called Karma Yoga. This should not to be confused with the principle of Karma, when your destiny or fate is determined by your actions. Instead, Karma Yoga is quite the opposite. It is based on selfless acts without any attachment to the outcome.
In our reward-based society where everything we do is based on receiving a certain outcome, it is extremely difficult to break this habitual cycle. Just the other day I caught myself getting irked when I held the door open for a lady at the bank and she walked past me as though it was my job. However, the fact that I was expecting the reward of a “thank you” takes away from doing something just because it is right. I have metaphorically held doors open for strangers many times, each time convincing myself that I was doing it because it was the right thing. When in reality, I was expecting recognition in return. All of a sudden it clicked. My whole life I have been driven by Ego; the root of all suffering. Perhaps you have as well. The ego is what says, “What is in it for me?” It is the driving force that leaves us searching for material gain or validation from others and lost when our expectations fall short. The moment we remove attachment to the outcome of our actions we free our minds to the possibilities of the unknown.
Of course, it is not always practical to go through life without any goals or expectations, so your physical yoga practice is the perfect place to start. We often define our success by the outcome of our results. However, in your yoga practice if you are feeling the pose, you are doing the pose. When you begin to compare your practice to others or get caught up in mastering the pose, remember that yoga is a process not a destination. Instead of being driven by your ego, can you be fueled by curiosity towards each unique experience?
Stressing about things that are out of your control depletes your energy and takes away from your happiness. Keep in mind that you have already taken the first step to practicing Karma Yoga by learning about it and being aware of how it relates to your life and personal experiences. By applying this newfound awareness to your life on and off the mat you can quiet the Ego and explore new routes towards a more fulfilling life.
Hi, I'm Lauren and I am here to support people to find freedom in being authentic and the power to carry that out in their lives and community. Writing is one way I like to explore that for myself. Here is my archive of reflections.