Yoga for a better bedtime

Service every day

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First, a belated happy New Year to all. 2009 promises to be full of interesting challenges.

Last weekend, Jan. 24, was Yoga Day USA. Yoga Alliance, a professional association for yoga teachers, began this national day several years ago as a way of reminding yoga teachers of karma yoga, or (as they put it) the path of service. Yoga Alliance encourages teachers to give free classes on this day, in the hope that as many people as possible may experience the benefit of the practice.

With karma yoga in mind, I caught something in President Obama’s inaugural address the week before. Speaking about the enlisted men and women serving our country around the world, he said “they embody the true spirit of service, a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.” I had never really thought about the military in this way, but at its heart, it is actually more about serving than fighting. One must be willing to give selflessly, for something he or she truly believes in, to be a good soldier.

Many of us feel familiar with the concept of service, but yoga teaches some aspects of it that can add a new dimension to our understanding. For starters, you’re never not acting, even when you’re sitting still. If you stay connected with the intention in your heart as often as possible, then as many of your actions as possible are done in the service of something, rather than nothing.

Also, the most positive actions are those that arise when you stop trying to control outcomes and, instead, surrender to your intention. Those of us who are idealistic tend to make too much effort when things are important, but remember: Even the most excellent soldier isn’t in combat all the time.

I enjoyed practicing this in the free class I taught on Yoga Day USA. Only two students showed up, but we shared a meaningful experience. In honor of the day, we breathed and moved with the intention of serving something greater, something each of us identified deeper in herself. And together, we heightened our awareness of the contribution each individual makes to the universe.

Though the day set aside for karma yoga has passed, may we take this awareness with us every day, and continue to practice service throughout the year.

Author: Heidi Kyser

I am a freelance writer and part-time yoga instructor in Las Vegas. I started my yoga practice in 2000, at City Yoga Los Angeles. In early 2004, I moved to Las Vegas and began practicing at Sherry Goldstein's Yoga Sanctuary. In 2006, following some big changes in my life, I went through a teacher training and started teaching at Yoga Sanctuary. I knew after my first class that I wanted to keep teaching yoga for as long as I could. In 2007, I completed a 200-hour Anusara teacher training with Noah Mazé and City Yoga founder Anthony Benenati. As part of that training, I received Yoga Alliance RYT 200 certification. From 2008 to 2011, I also was an Anusara Inspired™ instructor. While continuing my career in journalism, I've simultaneously nurtured my skills as a yoga instructor, in order to better communicate with and help my students. The trainings and workshops I've taken have focused increasingly on the therapeutic benefits of the practice. Thanks for visiting. If you like my posts, please subscribe and comment. I hope that you will read and contribute often.

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