When we train to become a yoga teachers, I believe we are accepting responsibility to lead by example. I see a lot of yoga teachers leading by example primarily in terms of their exceptional asana practice. My social media feed is full of aspirational yoga pictures, but I see less effort being made to encourage others to also practice the other limbs of yoga. And I get it. Don't get me wrong: I love asana. I got into yoga through asana practice, and it remains the most accessible way for me to tap into mental stillness, focus, and concentration. But the Bhagavad Gita is very clear about the importance of other branches of yoga too, particularly 'karma yoga,' or the yoga of good deeds and selfless service. It says "strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world." About a year ago, I took a good hard look at myself and realised I needed to do more than teach other people how to "get" headstand. Rather than being a yoga teacher who spouted cliches about needing to "take your yoga off the mat," I wanted to encourage my students to use their yoga practice selflessly. And with that, last spring, Karma Yoga London was formed.
If you practice yoga regularly, I encourage you to consider making one of your yoga classes the charity class I am teaching for The Choir with No Name. Use 75 minutes of your weekly asana practice for good. Buy your ticket online here, and join our facebook group to stay updated on all of our karma yoga work in the community.