On Karma Yoga and giving back


Tuesday was Remembrance Day in Canada. It is a day to honour and thank the men and women in the armed forces who have served so that we can live in a beautifully free country. Everyone of them gave something and some of them gave all. This is selfless service.

Karma yoga is about service. It is something that you can practice everyday. Karma yoga translates to “Yoga of Action.” The things that you choose to do impact your own life and the lives of the people around you.

It all matters. Small actions can have a big impact.

The other day, I was driving back to work after lunch. By accident, some kids kicked a ball across the street. A construction worker on the other side of the street immediately stopped what he was doing. He motioned for the kids to stay put. Then he picked up the ball, held his hand out to stop traffic and carried the ball over to the kids.

The kids were safe. They were thrilled to get their ball back. I was touched. As a mom, my heart was filled with gratitude for this stranger’s gesture. This is a beautiful example of karma yoga.

Mahatma Gandhi said,

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Getting outside of yourself and offering to help others will make you feel happy. Love and kindness begets love and kindness.

How can you serve others this week? Here are a few ideas:

Give something away

If you’re a teacher, teach a free yoga class. Perhaps in your community. Or teach a bit of yoga to a friend who needs a way to relax.

Buy coffee for someone in line. This happened to me recently – a student in front of my bought my coffee – it made my day!

Donate time

Volunteer for something – maybe a field trip at your kid’s school. Or offer to babysit for a tired mom or dad who needs a few hours off.

Say Thank You

Thank the grocery clerk who packs your bags. Smile at the person who serves you coffee. Thank your bus driver. Appreciate their service to you and return in kind with genuine gratitude.

Make Someone Laugh

I am sure you know the saying, “laughter is the best medicine.” Turns out there are many benefits to laughter, both physical and mental. Laughing reduces stress, boosts immunity and even benefits your heart. What a great gift to give.

Don’t Give Up too Quickly

Many people find it difficult to ask for help. If you notice someone looking frustrated, ask them what you can do to make the situation better. People often say they are ok when they could really use some help. Offer more than once.

Let Someone Know they Matter

Leave a message. Send a text. Give a hug. Say I love you. Getting this message from friends and family is most uplifting.

This week, practice Karma Yoga. Find a way to help one person. Ask yourself, “What would I want?” And then do that very thing for them. Your action, no matter how small it seems, matters.

My grandmother gave me a plaque when I was a kid. It said, “The little things you give and do make happiness come back to you.” I kept it on my dresser and read it often. Even then the words resonated. Thank you Nana. You may never have done a yoga pose, but you had the heart of a true yogini.

Thank you for being here. I hope you have a beautiful week.

Photo courtesy of Peter Castleton

2 thoughts on “On Karma Yoga and giving back”

  1. Love these helpful reminders, Charlotte.

    I am teaching a Think Thankful class for the holiday week of the US Thanksgiving and I am going to refer to your suggestions at the end of class. Some people may think yoga is self centered (all focused on yourself on the mat) but with the Karma Yoga approach it is quite the opposite!

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