Work-Life Balance Through Yoga
Despite years of dabbling in classes, I wasn’t aware of the totality of yoga until recently.
I thought of yoga as physical for most, and spiritual for fewer. It wasn’t until researching the Kashi Atlanta ashram earlier this summer that I learned what a person does on the mat is only one section of what yoga teaches.
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, regarded as one of the definitive writings on yoga, the first limb in the eight-fold path of yoga is yama, or integrity. How you conduct yourself, such as telling the truth, not speaking ill of others and not coveting, are all mandates of yama yoga. When I was gossiping or complaining, I was not practicing yoga. When I intentionally tried to lift another’s spirits with kindness, I was practicing yoga, even if I was miles from any studio.
Karma Yoga, or selfless service, is a main tenet of Kashi Atlanta. Kashi, possibly Atlanta’s only non-profit yoga studio, focuses much of its practice on helping the community. Ma’s Street Meals program, established in 1998, serves a weekly brown bag lunch to nearly 300 people experiencing homelessness. Kashi volunteers in the KidsArt program work with hospitalized children, and other Kashi volunteers bring yoga to Dekalb County inmates.
As soon as I learned about Karma Yoga’s directive to give back and Yama’s direction to act with integrity, my mind made the connection to the Golden Rule, Christian tithing, and the Jewish mitzvah to give back. Seeing this brought a feeling of fullness, a knowledge that these spiritual traditions and religions, while on the surface seemingly oppositional, have a common thread—a commandment to kindness and betterment.
It is a short leap from there to the belief that we all contain the light, or the spirit, that each tradition espouses. We all have a divinity inside that is worthy of respect. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to make those connections had I not been writing for Natural Awakenings. But I do know that this work has brought me closer to life’s balance.
Sarah Buehrle, Managing Editor