Karma Yoga

For the last 12 weeks, our small yoga community has gathered together on Sundays for 30 minutes of movement.   Since recording on Zoom I learnt the full resonance and partials of the singing bowl are not fully translated through the call and recording.    Sorry about that!    Less rectifiable are our own individual plights, from the simmering loneliness of those who are single and living alone to the overwhelm of the full-time working parent, juggling a lack of childcare, surrounded by housework and home schooling.    The variations and nuances of what everyone has been experiencing is difficult to hard to communicate to others. It has been uniquely intense for every individual in every household. 

The struggle is real, but so are the blossoms in bloom everywhere right now.

I’ve also been reflecting on the idea of Karma yoga and offering up our class to important causes.   Home has not been safe for many women.  Calls to Woman’s Aid increased by approximately 40% in the last year.   I have seen the amount of homeless people on the street on my way to work in the city centre grow.  There is a “cut” about town, which was perhaps always there.   It’s now in plainer sight because town is less busy.   There is a lot we can no longer ignore including the environment but that’s for another day’s post.  

In a post reflecting the feedback, issues and experiences of people with eating disorders throughout the pandemic, Bodywhys, (the third of our Sunday yoga causes), identifies the stressfulness of constant diet and self improvement talk on social media.   To paraphrase the article (link below), people have felt under pressure to have a plan, [to make use of this time] when they are just trying to cope and get on from day to day.   Getting through the day can be an achievement enough for many of us right now. Anything extra we do is a bonus.

Japanese rose, viburnums and wild garlic flowers

Thinking about our Sunday karma classes has let me back to reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras selfless service without personal expectation is known as Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. Performing actions for the sake of others is a path to health and happiness. It is said to build and transform character.

In book four, the Kaivalya Pada, he says 

‘Karmasuklakrsam yoginastrividhamitaresam’. My take on the meaning of this is:

A yogi performs all actions with equanimity.  A yogi doesn’t categorise an action as either good or bad or a mix of both.   In your yoga practice a movement is just a movement.   When you are in the flow you are not saying “oh look at me I’m doing this perfectly”  or “I’m so stupid, I just messed that up”.    The poses are performed with a neutral mindset, with observance and witnessing.   When you are truly in the moment, you see the poses as just happening.  

How does this link to karma?  It is said the karma of a yogi is not fully performing an action for an exact intended result. There is a meeting of the moment on it’s own terms.  In the sutras,  as explained by Sri Swami Satchidananda, he says that a yogi does not see actions as either good or bad.   He also notes how  “a normal person might do something beautiful but the motive is selfish and the difference between the karma of a yogi and a “normal person” is being with or without a motive.   In my view this sutra gets a little shady because if someone ran up to a yogi with a knife and the yogi pushed him/her away, the yogi would be trying to protect him/herself as a reflex. Surely in this case there is an instinctual motive to protect oneself, where a fast decision to violently push back shows that none of us can be 100% selfless. While we are human, and bound to that nature, the yoga helps us to cultivate awareness and compassion to others and self. Your compassionate is incomplete it it does not include you. To conclude, yoga is a practice to deepen our experience, accept each moment for what it is and to help us transcend beyond the dualities of black and white thinking.

Given that government restrictions will continue in yoga studios until the end of April, I imagine May also, I am going to continue to run the karma yoga classes on the weekends for April and May.  I will continue to offer a level 1 30/40 minute class at 10am during the weekends and the causes will remain the same:  Women’s Aid, Dublin Simon Community and Bodywhys.   The link to www.idonate.ie/Yogaforfriends has been reactivated and will be open to donate until the end of June.  

I want to thank everyone who has showed up at the weekends and Wednesday evening classes.  I’ve personally benefited from being connected to our yoga community on Zoom.   The sense of gathering and our brief sharing at the beginning of each practice has certainly made a difference to my sense of purpose and well-being.  Thank you all for that.  I hope you have also benefited from the experience.  Also we managed to raise €315 for these worthy causes talked about above.  

Wishing you a peaceful Easter of new beginnings and hope,

Hope to see you on zoom on the 11th or the 14th April (or both!).

Aoife.

Upcoming Sunday Karma classes & Wednesday evening classes (booking on website) based on the eight limbs of yoga:

Note:  No Saturday or Sunday class Easter weekend (I am doing a course)

Note: Workshop 4pm-6:15pm on Saturday 3rd April.   All welcome (see website for booking). 

Sunday 11th April      and     Wednesday 14th April          (Yama) 

Saturday 17th April   and     Wednesday 21st April           (Niyama)

Sunday 25th April      and     Wednesday 28th April          (Asana)

Saturday 1st May       and     Wednesday 5th May              (Pranayama)

Sunday 9th May         and     Wednesday 12th May                       (Pratyahara)

Sunday 16th May       and     Wednesday 19th May                       (Dharana)

Sunday 23rd May       and     Wednesday 26th May                       (Dhyana)

Sunday 30th May       and     Wednesday 2nd June             (Samadhi)

Further reading

Class bundle booking now available on my website www.aoifemoriarty.ie

30 minute Karma classes will continue on Sundays. Email aoifesings@gmail.com to get your weekly link and reminder.

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