I told you HERE that I would be getting back to my favorite style of yoga! Well, the time has come! Welcome to your quick lesson on Seva Yoga.
TL;DR: Yoga translates to connection, it unifies our mind, body, & spirit. Seva translates to selfless service or giving service & compassion with no expectation of a return. It focuses mostly on the 'off mat' parts of yoga such as your values, ethics, meditation, and more. Through our practice, we begin to connect our mind, body, and soul. We begin to live in a way that is more aligned with our true nature. We are then able to give back to the world around us.
Let’s dive deeper.
Seva Yoga is about learning and practicing love. I mean, who doesn't need or want this? Our yoga practice pushes us physically, mentally, and spiritually. It calls us to tune in and become aware of our intentions and motivations. But...then what?
Then we can use that transformed self and do better for the world around us. We are learning on our mats and Seva offers us a chance to take it off the mat. It's a tangible way to show what we are learning.
Now, Seva was not always directly related to humanitarian work. It originally meant more to give or offer something out of honor or devotion. Think, helping to clean props after practice or sweep the rooms. However, the principle of serving something more than ourselves has remained the same. Think, activism, human rights, social justice, and the inner spirit that connects all of us. We should work towards love, forgiveness, grace, and see the light in one another.
As a social worker, I am ALL about the love for giving back and service (go check out our community classes & give back options now!). However, it is so important that we don’t skip the FIRST part of our Seva practice. We must first work on ourselves.
Seva calls us to give selflessly. This means we have to do the work. We can’t ‘om it all away.’ It is vital that we are in check with our intentions and goals. Are you being of service to make yourself feel good? To prove a point? To work on your image? Or are you giving because you have the means? Because your heart aches unless you do? Because you see a gap that you could fill? When you are of service, do you boast about it or are you okay with being a silent giver?
This is a hard concept, right? If you are throwing a big fundraiser, obviously you can’t just not tell people. But, if you gave crackers to someone you saw in need on the street, did you see if people were around first? It is a very deep and complex idea that requires us to put in work: thank goodness for our mats and practice, yeah?
Seva can be so many things from saying please & thank you, to donating, to throwing fundraising events, to volunteering. But what remains the same is that you are giving from your heart, selflessly, to try and offer love, empowerment, and support to the world.
I could go on and on for hours about Seva. There are so many more little ideas or parts that make it a whole, but I want to share why Seva is my favorite and why YogiOakley was built and designed around its concepts.
In the 5th grade, both of my parents lost their jobs. To make a very long story short, we lost everything, including our home. Life was hard and confusing and I had just started entering my teen years, ugh. People were throwing love and support my way and I honestly would not be here without the community that surrounded my family. But, I want to share about two very specific instances.
Obviously, we also suffered from food insecurity. There were many days where we didnt know where our next meal would come from. There was a lot of me pocketing my lunch money in case we needed it for the power bill. There was a lot of my parents going hungry to make sure I had enough dinner. There was a lot of fear in asking for help and a lot of denial about what was going on. One day, we arrived home to a box of food on the porch of the place we were staying (I mentioned community right, this was a friend of a friend’s. It was everything but great, but it was a roof and it was much better than what could have been). The box was given anonymously through an Angel Food Pantry. Someone saw a need, put our name in for this, and we were fed that week. To this day I still have no idea who did that. BUT, it changed our lives. My parents decided to apply for Medicaid, for food stamps, and we started asking for help. Our lives improved 200% and it was thanks to the love and support of a kind stranger.
I wasn’t exactly popular in high school, but it was a small town and everyone knew everyone. I ran cross country and one day shared my story with another girl on the team. She was popular. The next day at school, she called me out of my class to walk across the hall to her classroom. In front of the entire class, she announced that she had brought me a bag of clothes because she knew I probably needed them. Mortifying. There was no love behind her service, I was embarrassed while she tried to pass it off or prove that she was a good person.
This is why we can’t skip that first part. This is why we need to be aware of our intentions. This is just one way that I know yoga can change your life. In this season of giving and service, I challenge you to check in with yourself… and then I challenge you to do it year round. Be kind. Be vulnerable. Be aware. Offer others and yourself, love, forgiveness, grace. Namaste.