Karma yoga, or the yoga of doing good deeds, and "seva," or selfless service to others, are central foundations of the traditional yoga practice. However, they are under-emphasised in most Western yoga classes which focus on the physical components of an asana-based practice. In an effort to encourage more karma yoga within and beyond our community, I started a Karma Yoga initiative in London in March 2015.
For 6 weeks, I donated £1 for every person who attended a yoga class I taught, to a charity called Reality Gives, which is based in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai and operates in similar places throughout India. The charity specialises in education and teacher training and they provide classes in English language, computing and life skills to underprivileged children in their community centres. They also partner with a local primary school, Royal City School, to improve the education for local children.
Thanks to the generosity of the yoga community, including other yoga teachers who taught "karma classes," students who donated £1/class they attended, and studios that hosted charity classes, we raised nearly £4000, which was enough to pay three teachers' salaries in Royal City School for more than one year.
Following the success of our initial fundraising project, I am now building Karma Yoga London into a broader movement to support organisations that work within our communities. Our focus in 2016 is to support local charities based in London. Thanks to a lululemon athletica Metta Grant, we are currently supporting The Choir with No Name, which runs two choirs in London for people who have experienced homelessness or who are otherwise on the edges of society. In June 2016, Karma Yoga London raised more than £1100 for The Choir with No Name through a charity yoga class I taught. You can get involved and stay informed about ongoing Karma Yoga London events by joining the facebook community page or by following us on twitter as @karmayogaLDN. For further information or to get involved, you can also email me: