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You’ve heard of karma, but have you heard of dharma?  These Hindu principles have to do with how we live our lives and the impact we have on others.  It’s about being mindful of your surroundings now but also for the future to come.  In the everyday world, the term karma is often misused.  Wishing that bad things will happen to someone who has wronged you, definitely isn’t karma, and in fact, it is not dharma either.  Let’s look at the interplay of yoga, dharma and karma and how they are related to our practice.

Karma

Karma is the spiritual practice of cause and effect.  If you’ve ever heard of the saying, what goes around, comes around, then you probably already have an understanding of karma.  It is the belief that our actions now, will be rewarded in our next lives.  It is the principle behind living your day to day life.  It has roots in reincarnation and destiny.  That the life we are given is based on how we lived our past lives, and that we can control our future by acting honourably and favourably now.

Dharma

Dharma is the spiritual discipline of the direction of your life.  It can be felt as your moral compass.  It is what drives you.  Finding your dharma is finding your talents in life and using them for good, to help and serve others.  Your dharma can change, and you can have more than one dharma at a time.  Dharma works with the natural universal laws; it is the makeup of your cosmic character.  Dharma is you, and what you should be doing, when you are your true authentic self.  Sometimes we need help finding our dharma in life.

In walks yoga

Then we have yoga, which is a combination of physical, spiritual and mental practices.  We roll out our mats and we are doing great things.  We are actively doing something good for ourselves, and for those around us.  We are calming our minds, letting go of attachments, being present, still, and opening our minds up, ready to receive the world.  Yoga and meditation can remind us to be our authentic selves, making our karma easier to do.  When we show loving kindness to ourselves, loving kindness flows onto others.

In yoga and meditation your teachers are there to help you.  Does it sometimes feel like a great coincidence that they pull a card or ask a question that speaks right to you?  Finding your dharma is often a journey between the student and the teacher.  Teachers will bring you to a comfortable place, a still place and then ask the questions you need to hear.  These questions are always being asked, but sometimes the world is just too loud.  Through our daily, weekly, monthly practice, the mind calms and the universe can be heard more clearly.

When we can be our authentic selves, we can start to understand and hear our dharma much more clearly.  We can realise that it’s not about doing the poses so that we look good, it’s about doing the poses to sharpen and expand our spiritual and mental states.  Your yoga teachers’ dharma (or at least one of her dharma’s), is to teach you yoga, however, that may not be yours.  That does not mean you are in the wrong place.  By clearing our minds, we may realise our true calling is in social services, to help others.  Maybe we relax our body and find an inert calling for physiotherapy or dentistry.  It may sound like a big leap, but how often have you sat in a yoga class, or maybe a meditation and left feeling that sense of calm and passion all in one?  Ready to take on the world.  A good yoga class or meditation is a great way to start a day; leaving body relaxed and your mind and soul ready to receive whatever the universe wants to send your way today.  When the body and mind are ready to listen, we will receive our greatest gifts.  With karma, comes dharma.

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