One day after many, many lifetimes, we get wise. We decide that the fun in life is to give. You can tell a person’s level of spiritual development simply by watching how much they give.It’s easy to get so wrapped up in fixing your own life that you forget about helping others. And while its important to put yourself first sometimes, its even more important to help others whenever you can and it is with these sentiments in mind that we encouraged our second year teacher trainees Barry, Mariana and Marie to consider the message of the Bhagavad Gita  about Karma Yoga: The word “Karma” is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, meaning “to do”.In this sacred and very old text Krishna advocates selfless action as the ideal path to realize the Truth. Karma Yoga is doing good to the whole world, to love the whole world and all beings.
My spirit and faith in humans has been uplifted seeing some of the Facebook images of hair stylists all over the world giving free haircuts to the homeless – its such a beautiful gesture!

dublin-barber-cut-homeless-hair-freebarber_homeless

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
– Rabindranath Tagore

I have always felt strongly that whenever you engage in a selfless action that contributes to the welfare of others, you are uplifted into higher states of mind and that this is the message of the Bhagavad Gita.  I notice that when I am going through a difficult time, I come into teach a class and put my mind to helping others and then I forget about myself for a while. Give-ology is the fastest way to get out of a negative state of mind!! There’s always someone to help, there’s always some way in which to perfect oneself through service to others.Sometimes students come in looking fragile, stressed or just overstimulated and wound up and it is a small act of kindness to simply adjust them with tenderness or to let the touch linger and release tight muscles in their shoulders or neck.Other times giving students some coaching and firing them up to master a pose that they are struggling with can lift their spirits. Or at other times i can contribute to them with kindness by setting them up  in a restorative pose for savasana (the relaxation part of class) – one that chills them out and softens off the tension they carry. All these small acts of compassionate kindness can help them alter their mind state and go off home and pass on that loving kindness to their flatmates or family.
A great quote I have pondered on for years  makes more and more sense as I head into my late 50’s :
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.Ralph Waldo Emerson

restore yoga

And so it came about that the second year trainees took on the task of organizing and running the 108 Sun Salutes for Charity Event this November 22nd, with the $560.00  raised  going to our neighbors,  The Auckland City Mission. http://www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz/
Peter and I watched the three of them (Mariana, Marie and Barry) work as a tight knit team. They managed with ease, to enroll the teachers, the first year trainees and the students into giving a little to make a lot of difference in other peoples lives.
People brought in food to share, items to donate, and paid a fee to do 108 Sun Salutes (no mean feat-I can tell you) or to do 12 Salutes as part of a team of 9 people.The atmosphere was awesome!The children who came got to see the yoga school where mum and  disappear off to and come back looking refreshed and invigorated. And as always the children bring an enormous amount of fun and lightness to the event- for many of us they are the main event.People got to chat and catch up, to enjoy a few or 108 Salutes as well as share the food donated by the awesome new Cafe in town called The Scarecrow- Farmers Market and Cafe.May I add that I have fallen in love The Scarecrow Cafe-foods amazing and produce so fresh with flowers to die for! http://www.scarecrow.co.nz/

IMG_0079108 Salutes event for charity May 2010

What we all saw that day was that giving also connected us to each other and that giving created a stronger bond  between all of use  like minded yoga practitioners. So, I guess I would go as far as saying that practicing karma yoga builds stronger communities and thus helps to build a happier society for everyone. So if you want to feel good, do good!

My heartfelt thanks to the second years who initiated the event and carried it off with grace.
My heartfelt thanks to the teachers and two first year trainees who supported the second year trainees, and the Auckland City Mission.
My heartfelt thanks to all the students and their families- without you all it would not have been possible.