If anal retentive recycling were an olympic sport, I would definitely be a top contender for the gold. Even before I discovered yoga, I’d always been very connected to nature and therefore did what I could to reduce waste and the footprint I leave behind. This is part of my yoga. I’ve always believed in karma — though the meaning has morphed for me over the years. Rather than the age old, “karma’s a bitch,” which implies that karma is a punitive form of retribution, I tend to think of karma as a way to do right by an infinite all-connecting energy larger than myself — without being motivated by some type of prize.
In yoga, the yamas and niyamas are the laws of life and ethical rules for living whereas karma yoga is right living through selfless actions and service — giving back. In sanskrit, karma means action and yoga means union. So, karma yoga means union through action. We all practice karma yoga whether we realize we’re doing it consciously or not. Every time you hold the door for someone, pick up a piece of trash that isn’t yours or letting a car go in front of you, you’re practicing acts of service for another. Of course there are much larger acts of kindness and service that we can do as a means to connect with humanity and our planet on a larger scale.
Volunteering at a shelter; joining a local nature conservancy and donating your time are beautiful forms of karma yoga. And of course, there’s my favorite, recycling. You can turn recycling into an actual hobby once you start to investigate all of the ways you can reduce & reuse. I started recycling as far back as I can remember, and am always trying to be more innovative.
One of the first things I did when I moved into my house nearly a decade ago was to label the trash bin in my kitchen, “landfill.” That way, every time I see the trash I think about what I’m about to throw away. Can I recycle it? Can I compost it? Can I reuse it? Once you realize what you can and can’t reuse, you start to reduce buying things made out of non-recyclable materials and a shift happens within you.
For me, karma yoga starts at home, and blossoms outwardly. Some people feel that karma yoga is only karma yoga if it’s done altruistically, but I don’t believe that. I believe that while it may take some getting used to, or feel inconvenient a first, once you make a conscious effort towards a practice of karma yoga, it takes over and becomes part of who you are on an unconcscious level.
– Your Charmed Yogi