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Fancy giving your conscience a cleanse, whilst keeping fit? If so, Karma Yoga could be for you…
Karma Yoga is one of the four main types of yoga. Otherwise known as the “yoga of action”, Karma Yoga focuses on the detachment from the results of our actions. It encourages you to have no expectations, and to instead act selflessly with devotion to a higher power.
The philosophy of Karma Yoga believes that people should not become attached to their work, as this will only attract evil sentiments such as greed, selfishness and egotism. Instead, we should expect no reward for our service, as the rejection of material gain will cause our ego will fade and will bring us closer to being unified with God.
Karma Yoga claims that we can only achieve perfection and freedom in life through this process, as the individual must control all mental desires and temptations until they reach a zero balance and there is no bad karma left.
Karma yoga focuses on action, meditation and is based on a general understanding of Karma and reincarnation. Both principles hinge on the belief that anything you do in this life (or have done in a previous life) will come back around to haunt you, affecting your present existence and shaping your new life after death- so be good!
Beginners can practise a simple yoga routine, incorporating poses such as the downward dog, the lunge and the claw, whilst those who are more adept at yoga can try out Vinyasa (Flow) yoga- a dynamic form of yoga that links your breathing with the body’s postures, or asanas.
The practice also involves breathing exercises, pranayama, that promise to lift and enlighten the spirit.
However, as Karma yoga is “yoga of the mind” it is not all about what you do on the mat, but also how you conduct yourself outside of the studio.
To fulfil the requirements of the Karma Yoga philosophy, you must try to act selflessly in the community too. Why not volunteer at a soup kitchen, or help out at a charity? Not only will this make you feel good, but will free you from bad karma. Or you could join a local organisation that helps the community, as Karma Yoga promises that detached, selfless work that does not directly benefit you will eventually lead to liberation.
If devoting yourself to an unselfish line of work is not possible, Karmic philosophy advocates that you donate as much of your time and material possessions to charity as you can.
It’s a material world out there, but try not to get too attached to your GHD’S. Karma Yoga teaches that those who strive to attain status with possessions will only develop feelings of greed and egoism. Instead, turn that frown upside down and strive to be a social, amiable person, as this will help to remove feelings of hatred and anger. Sounds lovely- but may be easier said than done...
This type of yoga would suit anyone who wants to explore their spiritual side, and wants to actively help their community. However, those who find meditation and talk of reincarnation a bit much should steer clear.
Not quite a pro at yoga? No need to fret; Karma Yoga suits all abilities and is usually taught in mixed ability classes, so you can go at your own pace, be it speedy or slightly more sedate.
The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, meaning 'to do'. In its most basic sense karma simply means action, and yoga translates to union. Thus Karma yoga literally translates to the path of union through action. However, in Vedantic philosophy the word 'Karma' has developed to mean both action and the effects of such action.