Yoga in Practice: Is Karma Good or Bad?


What is Karma? Can Karma be a cloud hanging over us? Here are some ways to look at Karma, regardless of your religious belief.

Karma is the universal law of equal reaction for any initial action. If you give anything, you will receive the same, or more, in return. We commonly see this effect with love, hate, and money.

Therefore, be careful to avoid having hateful thoughts or displaying hateful actions. Obviously, you should be generous about acts of kindness, giving to loved ones, and giving to charity. The person who does not share love or money is rewarded with loneliness and shallow relationships.

Regardless of your religion, Karma has an effect on your life. If you visit a church, temple, shrine, ashram, or mosque, you are taught to give to people who are less fortunate. This is a universal and ethical law: Those who give – always seem to receive.

Many people feel they live under the shadow of “bad Karma.” Karma is not bad or good. This is only the human perception of Karma. Everyone has bad experiences; this is a natural part of life. Bad experiences must be addressed with solutions. Look at a crisis, cry if you must, find a solution, and learn what you can from it.

We all feel grief, but we cannot solve anything by crying about it. It is natural to cry, but we must move on. The old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” applies to life. Look at each situation and learn from it. Otherwise, you can fall down and the world will “walk all over you.”

Why is this aspect of Yoga not taught in your Hatha Yoga class? Perhaps your Hatha Yoga teacher does not talk about Yogic philosophy because it might not be considered to be as popular as Yoga postures. Loving kindness, mindfulness, and Karma Yoga rarely make the cover of Time Magazine.

However, you should still privately mention your interest, in Yogic philosophy, to your Yoga teacher. Most Hatha Yoga teachers are very familiar with Yogic philosophy, but many do not want to be seen as a guide toward spiritual health.

This situation occurs more often in a multi-cultural society where Hatha Yoga students have different religious orientations. The typical Hatha Yoga teacher does not want to insult anyone, who comes to his or her class.

There is a solution for this: When a Yoga teacher explains the commonality of universal laws – no offense is taken. Karma is just one of many universal laws. You can find more universal laws, within the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, or take a close look at the first two limbs of Yoga. These limbs are Yamas and Niyamas.

Once you read the first two limbs of Yoga, think about each universal law carefully. Any person, of any religion, can live by these universal laws and practice Karma Yoga – Union by selfless service.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in Attleboro, MA. 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:

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