Many yoga teachers, including myself, mention in class that your yoga practice is a warm up for what you do and how you act after you walk away from your mat and return to work or play. I encourage students and fellow yogis to breathe in moments of stress, to love more, and to see through the other person’s eyes and ears. I spout the wisdom of great teachers and encourage them to not gossip and to see God in all.
But, can we make an even deeper impression on our community – and the world?
“Tithe” is a word that many people do not know or use. It means to give up 10% of your personal income. I grew up in the Catholic religion and remember my parents putting money in the basket at church. Those funds were to help in whatever way the church deemed necessary and appropriate. My earnings today go to various community organizations in my neighborhood because I have been given a space to teach freely.
So, I return the favor. I have found that in giving, I receive.
Seva, or helping others, is another way to deliver the practices and integrate changes you experience in Sadhana into your life. Look around and see who needs help. Is it your neighbor next door, a local food co-op, a volunteer food pantry, a local library, hospice? There are many in need. You can also use the local library to offer a free class for children or adults. Libraries love free programs!
Last but not least, consider visiting a nearby women’s shelter or correctional facility. Supporting the change of a person’s thoughts and actions comes from within the individuals themselves, not through punishment. Whether you’re a child or an adult, reducing anxiety through breathing and awareness of the heartbeat often leads to peace and harmony.
First, commit to 40 days. Then, challenge yourself to take your practice off the mat every day for another 40 days, with attention to your every action. That’s a good place to start, and then broaden those steps to include any one or more of the above ideas.