For many yogis, seva, or service, comes natural and is a calling that they can’t ignore.
This is how I feel about exercise—I have to do it. It’s not a choice. It’s what I’m inspired to do. Without some form of exercise twice a day, I just wouldn’t feel complete.
For me, seva is an exercise—something I practice.
While it doesn’t come naturally for me, I find I am greatly inspired by those who are driven by service, which is one of the reasons I participated in the Off the Mat Leadership Training, last year.
I was so inspired by the 60 people in the room, who were doing spectacular things for their own local community by building projects that would in turn make the global community stronger, as one.
I realized you don’t have to be the founder of an organization to make things happen; even small deeds can make a difference and lead to bigger actions.
Here are a few ways you can bring seva into your own community:
1. Find something you are passionate about and do it!
Whether it’s working with children, seniors or those with special needs. Someone in your community needs you. You have a gift. The trick is to unlock that gift and find out what it is. Go out there and utilize it!
2. Volunteer at a yoga studio.
I have participated in Energy Exchange Programs (a dedication of time, doing simple cleaning in exchange for free classes), at five different studios in the last few years—I have moved a lot. While I didn’t really have to do this, I found it very rewarding. It was a great way to get instantly involved in my local yoga community. It’s a win-win for all!
3. Already a yoga teacher? Great! Teach free classes.
There are plenty of people out there who can’t afford yoga classes. Sometimes those are the people that need it the most. You may think you don’t have time or maybe you think you can’t afford to teach free classes. The free classes you teach often lead to interesting experiences that you wouldn’t have had otherwise; besides, free classes usually lead to paid classes. It’s just a matter of time.
4. If you’re like me and love to exercise, why not do it for a cause?
Walk for a cure or check out organizations like Team in Training, where you can train to do a marathon or tackle a triathlon all while raising money for cancer research. You’ll meet cool people, get in great shape and have a fantastic experience to reflect on (and brag about).
5. Love animals? Volunteer at a local shelter.
My mom and sister used to go to the Humane Society every other weekend. My sister would walk the dogs while my mom, since she loves to garden, would pull weeds.
There are many ways to start taking action within your own community. Get creative. Before you know it those small actions may turn into larger projects and you’ll find you’re on your very own path of service.
Carri Uranga is an ERYT 500 and trains yoga teachers in exotic places around the globe with her school Drishti Yoga International Teacher Training. She has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, spent a year traveling in Central and South America and was honored to be an Athleta sponsored Athlete 2012! Check out her website and follow her on twitter.
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Assistant Ed: Stephanie Richard/Kate Bartolotta