“Asana practice is for 2 hours. Yoga practice is for 24 hours.” ~ R Sharath Jois
Yoga practice is not only asana (posture) practice, it also happens off the mat in your daily life. Ashtanga Yoga has eight limbs whereof asana is only one. Practising the other eight is equally important, otherwise “it is just circus”, as Sri K Pattabhi Jois said. Following the Yamas and Niyamas, the two first limbs, include how you think about and act towards others. Part of practising yoga is to care for others and to give back to the community. This is called Karma Yoga or “Seva” – which means selfless service.
The word Karma means action, deeds, work, endeavour, or the results of past deeds. In Yoga philosophy it is believed that our present situation is based on our past actions. By taking actions to help others without the aim of any personal gain we change our attitudes towards the better and in the process, change our souls. This leads to a future free from negativity and selfishness and change of our destiny.
Seva, should be done without any selfish purpose or any attachment to the fruits/results of the action taken. Doing Seva, giving back to society, can be done in many ways, big or small. If one does not have the monetary means one can help by small daily gestures and actions towards fellow human beings or engage in charity work. The Baghavad Gita (one of the most important texts in Yoga) says:
“No effort ever goes to waste in selfless service, and there is no adverse effect.” (ch2.40).
Over the years Ashtanga Yoga Malmö/Lund (Isabella) has been involved in volunteer work with organisations such as Project Air and Odanadi. Both work for women’s (and children’s) rights in Rwanda and India respectively. You can read more about the organisations by clicking on the links. In 2015 Ashtanga Yoga Malmö/Lund also arranged a fund raiser for Syrian refugees and the Swedish campaign “På Flykt” led by Radiohjälpen.
In 2016 Ashtanga Yoga Malmö/Lund teamed up with Yogashala Stockholm to help support the work of V-Care (Vision for Culture, Arts, and Research Enhancement); a small NGO based in Mysore India. V-Care works for social change and the empowerment of girls and young children though cultural, arts and musical projects. The organization is run by Kumudini, wife of Stanly who is the director of Odanadi (see above). Every school-year V-Care organises holiday camps for children from the poorest villages around Mysore. Through playful activities the children are trained in gender equality and respect.
In cooperation with Yogashala Stockholm and Astanga Yoga Copenhagen we are regularly arranging special fund raising events to sponsor V-Care and it’s work with children in caste-less communities in the outskirts of Mysore. Our planned planned events are to be found the events calendar. If you’re interested in knowing more or want to help/donate, please contact us.