Cultivating Seva In Your Own Community
Seva, the act of selfless service, is a fundamental teaching of yoga. Through my personal journey with the practice of yoga, I have learned to be more compassionate and giving in my daily life including donating my time and money to causes I am passionate about. Recently, I've been weighing the idea between giving locally and giving globally … both in the form of service and monetary donations.
The importance of whether to give locally or globally has been the source of many long discussions between myself and friends lately. Americans have an abundance of just about everything, yet there is still so much need in our communities and it seems we're only able to make a dent in it. On the other hand, I'm also well aware of the global need out there with impoverished countries that have little to no resources. There are celebrity causes and extensive media coverage about the major tragedies going on world-wide … natural disasters, poverty and hunger, human trafficking and so much more are all very important to put our efforts into.
With the intent of full disclosure, I'll share that I choose to practice Seva by giving to and serving a local organization called Community Yoga Austin (CYA). Because of my involvement with CYA, I have the opportunity to see how yoga benefits people in our local prison system, juvenile centers, women and children shelters, senior citizen centers, schools and addiction recovery centers by classes they are offered free of charge. Witnessing the way yoga transforms so many lives in turmoil in my own backyard continues to reinforce my belief of the power this practice has in changing the world for the better.
I am so grateful for the many local yoga studios and practitioners that support CYA through hosting and attending donation classes and other events. It warms my heart to see how we yogis can come together to support this particular local cause. And yet, I feel as though it doesn't receive the support from the entire Austin yoga community it should because it doesn't have local or national celebrity endorsements or the high-stakes impact so favored by news media to attract attention. During the past six months, I've seen this organization struggle to bring yoga classes to these under-served communities due to lack of support and funding … some classes have had to be cut altogether. One yoga teacher I personally spoke to was saddened to have to stop teaching a group of ladies who were benefiting so much from her classes. But CYA believes in paying its teachers for their valuable service and simply didn't have the funds to continue this class.
So what's the answer? Maybe there isn't one, but it's something to ponder when we decide to engage in selfless service. Where is the most need? Who knows, but there is a lot of it right in our own community if we make ourselves fully aware of it. In the end, each of us should give where we feel most compelled to give … to give to whom and where our passions lie. It's understandable that people empathize with such high-profile disasters and needs, but we need not forget about our brothers and sisters right around us.
To learn more about Community Yoga Austin, visit www.community-yoga.org.