Teaching Hatha Yoga: Is a Hatha Yoga Teacher a Karma Yogi?


What is Karma Yoga and what is a Karma Yogi? The word Karma can be defined as action, work, or service. Karma Yoga is often referred to as selfless service or unselfish action. This is work that you do, without any consideration of a reward. Many times, we may consider a religious leader to fit this description.

However, people who seek change for justice, and the common good, are not always religious leaders. Some may have been considered revolutionaries in their time, politicians, public servants, social workers, teachers, or something similar. There is one common thread, beside selfless service; it is the need to contribute to change for the purpose of justice.

So, how could a Hatha Yoga teacher become a Hatha Yogi? Hatha Yoga is union by physical mastery; and in some parts of the world, concern over physical appearance overrides the need to make social changes.

Consumerism, self-gratification, gluttony, and greed, would seem to be the driving forces for people who are physically self-absorbed. It may take generations before consumerism and self-absorption give way to the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. Unfortunately, this is another example of evolution that we have to wait for. Humankind needs time to “grow up.”

However, when any Hatha Yoga teacher answered the calling to teach Yoga, it was not because of the money. If money is the prime motivating force behind teaching Yoga, this type of Yoga teacher will not last long. There is too much giving of one’s self involved in teaching Yoga.

There are many Yoga teachers who give selfless service to the elderly, to the sick, and to the poor. When a Yoga studio, or an, ashram is profitable, they always give to charities or have fund raisers. All of the Yoga teachers I have met, give to those in need and do not turn their backs on the poor.

Although Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga are considered higher spiritual forms of Yoga, Hatha Yoga is a gateway to character improvement. It is not wise for us to classify “superior” forms of Yoga. The fact that a young Yogi, or Yogini, is practicing any form of Yoga is a good start in life.

When any one of us performs the work that calls to him or her, and it benefits humankind, it is a form of Karma Yoga. Your dosha calls to you in diet, exercise, activity, behavior, and in your work. When you follow your true nature, you will find tranquility and harmony in life. A Hatha Yoga teacher should learn if he or she is pitta, vata, or kapha. Then you will understand the strengths and weaknesses of your role in this life.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. http://www.riyoga.com He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. To receive a Free e-Book: “Yoga in Practice,” and a Free Yoga Newsletter, please visit: http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html

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