May Focus: Karma I’ve always been a firm believer in the saying “What goes around comes around” and that life is a continuous flow of energy that we send out and receive back. To put it simply, I believe in sort of Karma; not in a religious sense but in the context of our actions toward others affect our own lives. Those of you who have seen the movie “Pay it Forward” may understand the concept I am referring to.
Living in Dubai where “excess” seem to be part of our everyday lives, we sometimes miss out on opportunities to cultivate good karma. We at Inspire would like to dedicate the month of May as a reminder that we can always incorporate personal awareness and small acts of kindness in our everyday lives to encourage an environment of “Good Karma”.
What is Karma?
Karma comes from the Sanskrit language which literally translates to “action”. The Law of Karma as Deepak states in his book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, is:
“Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind…. And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.”
How Yoga can help us manage our Karma
Think of karma as patterns or habits in our body-mind, in our nervous system, in our thinking and emotions, and in the actions we perform every day. Our thoughts, emotions, and desires have a way of repeating themselves, and these form karmic patterns.
We inherit some of these patterns at birth, and some we create over the course of our lives. A karmic pattern can be a strength or a weakness. We can find it difficult (perhaps impossible) or easy to change.
As yogis, we need to develop awareness of our patterns. We can do this through meditation and self-study (the niyama of Patanjali called swadhyaya).
Once we identify our patterns, we apply yogic techniques that allow us to act on our patterns to respond to them, changing those that we can and accepting those we cannot. Acceptance of weakness is a great strength. It is an outcome of authentic meditation, arising from the cultivation of self-knowledge and self-love.
When we know our weakness, we can apply the next yogic tool: sankalpa, or resolve. Sankalpa is a short, positive, and sincere statement of intent that expresses what we want to achieve. It is best to work on just one or two things at a time until we achieve our goal. A sankalpa focuses our energy and prevents distraction and confusion.
Having made a sankalpa, we begin to use other yogic tools. For example, we may have a digestive problem, perhaps as a result of worry or anxiety. This health pattern undermines our energy, so we are motivated to work on it. We may apply asana to reduce the symptoms of pain and discomfort. This helps to manage the problem, though it may not remove the root cause.
We may then choose to address the cause of the problem. We may change our eating habits and other lifestyle factors, and we may engage in more powerful healing yoga methods such as Pranayama, or breath work. Thus the old patterns may fade over time as we modify them with the new pattern we are consciously creating.
Karma at Inspire
As a studio we are opening our doors to Karma Yoga. All proceeds from these classes will go to charity.
Karma yoga is selfless service, or service to others without expectation of any outcome. Teachers who will be teaching these classes do so as a service to the community. Students who will be attending will have an opportunity to increase their awareness on how certain charity/foundations work to alleviate people’s suffering and conditions here in the UAE. Donations towards these charities are encouraged and welcome after class. This is also an opportunity for those who cannot afford to pay for regular yoga class to attend their practice at no monetary cost but perhaps encourage them to be of service to others.