Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, also known as a Day of Service. In Yoga, MLK would be known as a Bhakti Yogi and a Karma Yogi. Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of devotion to a higher power and the realization that we are not separate from the higher power. His faith was mighty and he spoke to inspire others to stand up for one another so that we all may be treated fairly. Karma Yoga is the yoga of selfless service, doing for others without thought of reward. It is the yoga of action.
"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy", said the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. When we are service to others we are practicing kindness, compassion, presence, patience and humility. When we act to benefit someone without thought of reward or attachment to outcome, there is a natural joy that arises from connecting to another soul.
Service can be in big ways like standing up for someone who is being mistreated or volunteering your time and resources to make someone’s life or your community better. Every act of kindness, compassion, presence, patience and humility whether big or small, is a service to humanity. When we demonstrate the best parts of who we are, we shine a light for others to do the same. This is the active expression of Namaste, when our light recognizes and encourages the light in all other beings.
Service is a noble cause, but we are humans and so we need to practice. First, we must learn to be of service to ourselves. If we don’t care for and honor our own needs, how can we be effective in helping others? Being able to care for our bodies, our minds and emotional states is imperative. The more happy, healthy and balanced we become, the easier it is to naturally be supportive of other people in your life and the more energy you will have to give.
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