Karma Yoga

Karma Yoga

As Yoga Teachers we operate from the heart. Obviously, we would have chosen another profession if we didn’t, right? How do you welcome everyone to class, set an intention for class, nurture students from where they are to where they want to go, without a compassionate heart? In yoga teacher training, most of us learned about Karma Yoga, and it’s importance to our overall yogi life.

Karma Yoga, also known as Karma Marga, is one of the four spiritual paths, according to Hinduism. As a Christian, I believe that Karma Yoga is right work done well, as a form of prayer. If you research Karma Yoga, you’ll find various beliefs and various opinions (much like anything else you type into Google today), but after my studies, research, and yes, a little online reading, I feel confident that Karma Yoga can be any service you give to others, without focus on personal gains—money, notoriety, fame, . Several studios I partner with share a Karma Yoga class regularly to give back to the community in some way, either by donation, fundraising or awareness. The teacher may, or may not give their time and knowledge as a donation. It depends on the way the class is set up. Once I became a yoga teacher, requests came from several different sources for free yoga classes. I was so excited to teach that I accepted most of them, excited to be asked, and happy to share my new knowledge. I did this for a while before I realized that my time output and financial income were drastically misaligned. I taught yoga and I maintained a coaching business, and felt that I had a good sense of time management, but about a year after I added yoga teaching to my weekly work schedule, I realized I was exhausted all the time. I didn’t have energy at the end of the day, like I used to. I didn’t want to do much activity outside of when I taught yoga, and I started to get a little bitter toward giving my time away. I knew the answer, but I wanted to stay true to my new commitment, my oath of sorts, to being a Yogi.

I dove back into my books and training manuals to find out the rules behind Karma Yoga and being a Karmic Yogi. I realized that nowhere did it say to give away my time freely, without boundaries. How did this happen again? How did I forget to implement boundaries surrounding my yoga teaching? In corporate America, I hit a painful wall due to no boundaries. In my personal life, I hit pain due to being boundaryless. How haven’t I learned that I can do more, be more, GIVE more with boundaries? After reading and reflecting about what the world says about Karma Yoga, I decided to make some own rules for myself surrounding my give-back and my free yoga teaching time. Everyone is different, but I do feel that yoga’s rich history was founded more on nurturing and peace than on overwhelm and exhaustion. Don’t you?

What’s Enough?

This is personal to everyone, but asking myself a few questions led me to answers best for me and my family (and my inner peace.)

  1.  Who/what causes do I enjoy serving with? There is great need in the world, and givers are sometimes magnets for takers. You can’t blame people for asking, but you do reserve the right (and have a responsibility to yourself) to decipher which to gracefully decline. What’s near to your heart? Chances are there’s an opportunity to blend yoga and your support of these entities with some karma yoga time, so don’t over-extend with requests that may not resonate as well.
  2. When (what time of day) is best for me to include something extra? There’s a season for everything, and while your heart may be big, maybe your current responsibility load is too great, and adding something else would take away from those precious priorities (i.e.; self-care, partners, children, friends, other work) at certain times of the day, week, or month. Find windows of opportunity, in your schedule, where other priorities are taken care of, too. This will take the guilt off of you being away. If the time windows are bleak, consider some other changes to your current routine that will make space for some fun karma yoga.
  3. Can I involve my family in a Karma Yoga event/opportunity? Sometimes giving back and quality time can co-exist, which is a big win! Say no to a few opportunities to say YES to some fulfilling family sharing and time together. Plus, how great to showcase some of your skills for those you love most. If you have children, this can also be a great lesson in giving back and on the importance of healthy activity and family time.
  4. Does the request align with my core desired values and interests? Sometimes requests come from organizations that aren’t really important to me. I know that sounds harsh, but if you only have limited time, energy, or resources, it’s important to honor your priorities. In seasons of flexibility, you’ll have the resources, time, and energy to take on more, if you wish.
  5. Am I able to joyfully give? Depending on what’s going on in our world, there are seasons of limited resources and extra obligations. Offering to donate your time or energy, during these seasons could leave you frustrated or irritable. These are not the seasons to give back to anyone but your current obligations or priorities. Tend to your own affairs first, so that, soon, you can give back in a big way. If you continue to pour from an empty cup, we know what eventually happens. Then you’re not serving anyone well, including yourself.

Finally, becoming a yoga teacher or a yogi didn’t sign you up for a lifetime of pro bono work. , and if you’ve chosen teaching as your profession, honor your finances by not giving away too much of your talent and investment. Hard work should be honored and appreciated, and you’ll give more when you feel this fulfillment. The occasional donation or free yoga class is an honorable service, while feeding your overall wellness at the same time. Find what works for you, your business, your life.

Lacey Pruett

Lacey Pruett is an author, business owner and yoga teacher, passionate about helping women find their authentic self. Serving as a communicator, TV host, speaker and educator for over 20+ years, she’s equipped to mentor women of all ages. Her efforts gained momentum in 2012, when she served as Mrs. Texas United States, and spoke to a broader audience about healthy living and mindfulness. She and her husband live in the Dallas, TX area, have a Doberman (Maximus) and a Corgi-mix (Samson.) She is active in animal rescue efforts around Texas. Check out more about Lacey and her work at: www.laceypruett.com. She’s on Instagram and Twitter @Laceypruett and on Facebook at /laceyfit.