One of the best ways to overcome the storms in your own life is by helping someone going through a bigger one. I recently volunteered at an animal shelter that was over capacity due to housing their own shelter animals plus animals displaced from Hurricane Harvey. The amount of desperation felt by both the animals and the understaffed, overworked employees was palatable. There are so many human and animals in need right now, and relief programs are desperate for volunteers.
I think it is wonderful when yogis process what is going on in their lives and in the world on their mats and dedicate their practice to those in need, but I deeply believe our prayers and heart openers need to go far beyond our mats to really help those facing desperate situations. We need to use yoga practice as a vehicle to get grounded, connect with our authentic core, cultivate love and compassion within our hearts, and then take all of that off the mat to help those in need.
The following practice is designed to ground and focus you, prime your body to be of functional service, and open your heart. After the practice, I encourage you to make a list of ways you can physically or financially help those facing hardship. For example, locally, you could donate, volunteer, plan group visits, or create a class to support homeless shelters, animal shelters, or nursing homes. Nationally, you could help people or animals suffering from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria or those mourning lives lost in the Las Vegas shooting. Internationally, there are nonprofits that aid those affected by Mexico’s earthquakes, those who are starving, those who don’t have clean drinking water, animals that need protection, and ocean life that needs conservation.
This challenge isn’t meant to overwhelm you. I want to encourage you, if you aren’t already doing some type of charitable service, to pick at least one method of giving that you are passionate about and do it. I am a firm believer that if we all focused on others’ needs, our own needs would be met. We weren’t blessed with individual talents to enrich our personal lives, but we were created to live in community and share our resources and unique gifts with one another. As yogis, it’s time to let our light and love shine.
10 Poses to Equip You to Serve
About Our Expert
Laura Burkhart (500 E-RYT) is a YJ Influencer and San Francisco-based international teacher, featured on Grokker, My YogaWorks, and YogaVibes. Burkhart sought out yoga to help combat serious health problems due to a decade of major stress and insomnia. Yoga reminded her of the similar movement meditation she found when she used to dance. But unlike dance, yoga encouraged her to respect her body rather than push it beyond its limits. Burkhart's creative, well-rounded classes are smartly sequenced with smooth and rhythmic flow. She has been a writer, video model, and two-time cover model for Yoga Journal. She has presented at the Yoga Journal Conference, The Bali Spirit Festival, Yoga Festival Italy, Wanderlust 108, and is co-creator of “Yoga Business Secrets” workshops and online program that helps yoga teachers build successful public and online yoga careers. Burkhart completed various trainings including a 200-hour training at The Loft, a 300-hour training with Shiva Rea, a 200-hour and 300-hour training with Jason Crandell, and a 200-hour training with YogaWorks.