Karma Yoga and Seva

Road to Wellness

Feb 2, 2005 at 2:06 pm

On Jan. 14, Cincinnati Yoga School in Blue Ash, where we teach, hosted a Yoga Sampler night. Students experienced a variety of different teaching styles.

As important as Asana (yoga done with the body) is, the students practiced another crucial aspect of yoga, Seva, or selfless service. A portion of the proceeds for the event was donated to the Parent Project for children who suffer from Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy, which slowly robs children of their bodies. They lose gross and fine motor control and, eventually, the ability to breathe.

When we come to our yoga classes, we take our minds to a peaceful place by moving our bodies and deepening our breath. Most of us take it for granted every time we come to our mats that our muscles will do what they're supposed to do. As yoga students who explore and really listen to our physical bodies, isn't it wonderful to be able to offer something to people, however small, who can't take their ability to move for granted? Scientists are searching for an answer for this disease; the Parent Project supports that research through funds from coin boxes around the city.

Yoga has eight parts.

Asana and pranayama (breath work) are the two kinds we practice most frequently in Western society. Because everything is interconnected, we must address all eight pieces of the yoga pie to become truly happy.

When we perform a Seva with an open heart, we're doing Karma yoga. Karma can be pictured as an energetic bank account. When we offer others service without a hidden agenda, without expecting a return on our investment, we've made a deposit into that bank account. When we cause harm, it can be pictured as a withdrawal of sorts.

Every student who participated in Yoga Sampler Night did something vitally important, and their heart might shine with glory and happiness and goodness deposited in their karma bank account.

The Sampler Night consisted of 30-minute sections of classes, each taught by a teacher doing a different style of yoga. The styles varied greatly in intensity and focus, students attended all or part of the classes as their interests and health issues allowed. Styles included Kripalu Yoga, Ashtanga, Forrest Yoga, Yoga Pilates, Anusara Yoga, Atma Yoga and Yoga Nidra Deep Relaxation.

STEPHANIE HERRIN-THREM teaches Yoga at the Cincinnati Yoga School and other places around the city. She's certifed in Integrative Yoga Therapy and also teaches Gentle Yoga, New Beginner Yoga and Pre-Natal Yoga.

DIANE UTASKI can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected].