What is Karma Yoga and How Can You Practice It In Everyday Life

For most people, yoga has become a way of attaining a certain goal. It can be peace of mind, weight loss, or anything else. People perceive yoga to be a technique that drives desired results. However, one must understand that yoga is more about natural expression and self-realization. 

If you perform yoga to feel good or relax, you will certainly achieve your goals. If you practice yoga for self- awareness, you will connect with yourself internally, but it is a momentary and transitory phase. Once you get back to the realities of life, it will take a back seat. The real experience of yoga happens with karma yoga. If you practice other forms of yoga such as Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Kriya Yoga, or Raja yoga, you must combine it with karma yoga for enriching your yoga experience. 

People have different perceptions about karma yoga. While some believe that it is service to god or humanity, others think of it as selfless service or action. However, karma is an integral part of our personality and life. Whole of our life is karma and not just our actions. We can’t exist without karma. 

About Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is an ancient spiritual fundamental concept. The real essence of karma yoga is performing the duties without any attachment to the results. According to Bhagvad Gita, it is one of the paths for purification of mind and spiritual liberation. Karma yoga is about duty and actions, i.e. dharma and work. It is about doing your duties with care and dedication without any expectations and attachment to results. 

Principles and Benefits of Karma Yoga

Most of our actions in daily life attract attention or avoid it. The spiritual path of karma yoga says that our actions should be without any expectations. Here’s a look at the principles of Karma Yoga Practice:

  • Faith

You must have faith in the higher reality. Keeping company of spiritual people infuses positivity and encourages better lifestyle.

  • Right Knowledge

We must have the right knowledge so that we don’t engage in egocentric actions and collect immoral karma. Right knowledge enables us to practice selfless karma.

  • Purity

Pure mind is a primary need for karma yoga. Purity of mind is essential at all the three stages of intent, thought, and action. Rajas and Tamas can lead to desire-ridden actions. Sattva guna should be inculcated for desire-less actions. 

  • Discernment

The purpose of karma yoga is to do one’s duties and serve righteous purposes of creation. Bhagavad Gita says cultivation of discernment/ buddhi for practicing true karma yoga.

  • Self- absorption

Bhgwad Gita describes the Atma-samyama or self absorption yoga which helps a karma yogi to continue the efforts with equability and dispassion.

  • Devotion

Devotion is the end results of karma yogi. Predominance of sattva guna leads to pure devotion. It is where the devotee dedicates completely to the service of humanity or higher reality with continuous practice of karma yoga. 

Tips on how to Practice karma yoga

  • Karma doesn’t arise from our actions but our desires. When the actions are ridden with desire, they bind us and the birth- death cycle continues to bind us. It is a must to get rid of our desires but continue to perform our actions even if it is painful.
  • One must never ignore their daily duties and responsibilities. Try to introduce spirituality and a balanced approach in your actions and make it a part of your daily routine. 
  • Our existence is governed by our actions. Life is created by higher consciousness and living by action and collective action of living beings keeps the world going. You must perform your duties with detachment.
  • One must not mistake renunciation as an escape from daily duties or responsibilities. It only adds to selfish karma. The real essence of renunciation is giving up the desires of fruits for our actions. Our approach should be to surrender to the will of the higher reality.
  • You must engage your mind in contemplation and make an effort to remain in an absorbed state. Your actions must be performed with a sacrificial attitude. 
  • You must be free from attachments or desires when performing any action to uphold your Dharma. 

Now that you have an insight on karma yoga, you must keep performing your actions without attachment or desire for fruits in return. ‘karm karo, phal ki chinta mat karo!” Work on improving all aspects of your personality- physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental through yoga courses. Imbibing yoga in your life will help in gaining confidence, health, and wider perspective. 

Keep practicing!

Guest Introduction

Heidi Mair, Wellness Counselor, AWC (500 hours), and Yoga Teacher E-RYT (200 hours). Heidi teaches Yoga to students 50+ for the City of Seattle’s Lifelong Recreation program and King County Sound Generations. Find out more about Yoga and healthy aging at Heidi’s website – heidilynneyogaandwellness.wordpress.com | @heidilmair | Linktree