The main purpose of Karma Yoga is to control and eventually let go of your ego. It is essential that in the practice of Karma Yoga you do not involve your ego because only then can you do it without attachment and desire. Sometimes a person thinks he needs some ego in order to perform better and to grow, but we grow outside of ego, we grow deeper through humility. In other words Karma Yoga means humbling your ego, serving your community, and being part of something bigger than yourself. Only when the ego is released, will one come to union of the mind, body and soul. Then one discovers union of self with the divine, and oneness with those around you. What Karma Yoga experience have you had lately?
My most recent Karma Yoga experience over the last 3 months has included putting in well over 20 hours of hard work to offer Karma Yoga classes for “My Vinyasa Practice” to complete my 500 Hr YTT. This was quite the adventure for me, it came with a lot of trepidation because I am new to teaching classes live on ZOOM. The ego was blasted out of the water for me as I had no idea how to even offer this method of teaching and it was and continues to be a very humbling experience for me. I miss the personal connection with people from having taught over 1,500 hours of yoga through the years which included both volunteer hours and paid hours. The reward of paid classes is simple, there are bills to be paid. The love of teaching yoga and then offering what I love as Karma Yoga has no limit to the gratification, satisfaction, and overwhelming joy that I experience by simply offering what has changed my life for the better and giving that to others to inspire and help them live a healthier, more personally fulfilled life too.
“What is Karma Yoga?” one may ask. On a very basic level, teaching yoga to others and not collecting money for your effort. It is discovering the depths of life without ego, a greater wisdom with humility. But, there is so much more to be learned as we delve into the practice and offering of Karma Yoga. What is Karma? To me, Karma is the full circle of life. I have experienced many full circle moments in my lifetime. Some of these circles have not connected back up yet, but I know they will in time. Karma, what you give out, whether it be positive or negative energy, will come back to you again in its own time. This creates a full circle approach to life. We are born, we live, we breathe, we die and so it goes. The dust of the earth continues to come alive, there is growth, a time of harvest, and then a return back to the dust of the earth once again. With what effort and energy you put forth in this life, that same effort and energy shows up for you on your journey in many forms. Go out into the world with your passion and love for what you do and never give up!
In my Karma Yoga teaching during COVID-19, I wanted to be sure to thoroughly study how to go about teaching yoga from home. This included looking into the eye of a computer screen and figuring out how to create eye contact and a heart connection with the people on the other side of the camera. There was still an energy moving through the cosmic waves and I was grateful for the physical distance to be minimized somewhat because of the contact through a computer. But, the magnitude of energy as a whole embodied experience with a room full of living, breathing, sweating, moving participants was lost. That has been the hardest part for me in this new age of teaching online.
I then wanted to be sure that students had a good connection through the internet with me. That students could hear and see me well as I spoke and demonstrated the 60-90 minute classes. In order to do this, I spent hours studying how to create an effective class environment from my home location for others to follow along from their home as well. I invested my money into a course on how to move my work online. I followed along with internet trainings, and purchased lighting and bluetooth wireless headphones. I studied how to use Zoom and had many practice runs with family to be sure I was understanding the logistics. I studied how to create a YouTube page and to upload the Karma Yoga videos to share with others.
I offered three main classes per week as well as a few other styles. ABC Yoga on Mondays at 7:00 AM, Restorative/Meditation Yoga on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM, and Yoga Sculpt on Fridays at 7:00 AM. I sent out my Zoom meeting invites and was excited to see the response of students wanting to attend the classes. In offering these classes it was very fulfilling and kept me motivated to continue my own practice of yoga during one of the most stressful times of my life. A big thank you to those of you who tried and tested the waters with me as we did live Zoom yoga classes together. I would love to hear your input, feelings, and experience through this form of practice. I know each of you have attended classes at Hummingbird Yoga Studio that I had to close due to COVID. But, we journey on and I am grateful for your support.
These Karma Yoga classes gave me courage to step out into new waters, strength to endure whatever the day might bring, peace knowing that there are others on the other end of this isolation period, grace and compassion for myself as I did my best to teach to an empty physical classroom and instead to a virtual classroom of students on a screen. That in itself was very challenging. There is a lack of tangible connection through the internet. A mindset shift was needed for me after having taught years of actual classes full of students and guiding them through an experience they will never forget; to now offer what I hope will be helpful for everyone but there is a disconnect for me in a way that is impossibly hard to describe. To not be able to reach out with my heart connection to help students find the deepest possible physical, emotional, spiritual, mentally stimulating experience of their day – – has been emotionally overwhelming for me.
Offering Karma Yoga at this time in the world from the isolation of my own home through the eye of a computer has not been as deeply satisfying as teaching Karma Yoga in my own studio. But, I continued to show up, to be present, to arrive on time regardless if anyone showed up to the classes or not. I began to discover a greater depth of humility, integrity, and passion for what I love.
I will be honest with you, I absolutely miss giving students a hug when they walk into my studio, I miss feeling into a room full of people and having tears come to my eyes because I am so overjoyed and moved by the very presence of each student who is in the room. I miss teaching to the needs of every student in the room as I watch them carefully move through their practice. I miss the heightened energy shift as we move into standing poses and more challenging holds. I miss the peak moments that you can only feel when teaching in person.
I miss then slowly and gently bringing the students back down to a place of opening fully to what will be, what is there just for them, and guiding them through gentle stretching and words of self-love. I miss offering savasana, and a light massage on the hands or feet of those who want physical touch. I miss playing my guitar and serenading the class in song, and sensing the sound of heaven coming into the room. I miss having students linger after class to ask questions or express their feelings and emotions from what came up for them in class. I miss the absolute satisfaction of creating a powerful experience for each person to walk away with and know that they have just lived the most satisfying 75 minutes of their day.
I will continue this Karma Yoga journey of teaching yoga from home, recording the classes, uploading them to YouTube, and give it all I’ve got as I continue to learn and grow with the ever changing times. My hope is to find a similar connection that was created in the physical location of Hummingbird Yoga Studio and recreate that connection online. To connect with the world in ways I have not yet dreamed of. May we each ask our deeper self, “ What do I have to offer the world as a result of my story?” I hope that you too will leap, trust, and grow from experiences you never thought you could endure and come out stronger for it! Shine your light! Grow! Experience! Live! Just Be! Hummingbird Yoga on YouTube