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Yoga and Keeping Your Karma Alive

Updated on January 10, 2016

The Concept of Karma

Karma originates from a Sanskrit word that literally means deed or action. Hence, from the definition alone, you can gain an insight into the philosophy behind karma yoga. The concept of action in karma yoga does not just refer to physical action, however. There are different factors that affect the way people act, which therefore affects your karma as well.

There is the concept of mental karma that is responsible for one's action. Aside from the process of deciding on what actions to make and the reasons behind those actions, karma also comprise the fruits of your action.

What Is Karma Yoga?

Types of Karma

There are three known categories of karma and each one are discussed below:

*Sanchita – This one refers to the accumulation of all kinds a person committed in the past leading up to the present. It evaluates the actions and result of those actions next to the person's tendencies and limitations. It also puts into equation their motivations.

*Prarabdha – This one concerns the present body's experiences, often as a result of past actions. Whatever those fruits are, one cannot do something to change or alter them. This is where you have to pay any debts you might have accrued in your life.

*Kriyamana – This type of karma is the one that you are currently creating and developing. It concerns the future, which will be able to experience the fruits of your actions today.

Introduction to Karma Yoga

Karma yoga is based on the teachings of Shri Krishna and is commonly referred to as the “discipline of action”. It serves as one of the pillars of yoga practice that require one to adhere to his/her duties while observing selfless action to get there.

In modern times, you can associate this with “right action” or the “good path”. There is a focus on creating actions and offering it to the Lord as the highest form of being. Only when you have learned how to dedicate yourself to something Divine will you be able to reap success as fruits of your labor.

There are two basic prerequisites to the practice of karma yoga: non-attachment to the results of your action and dedication of those actions to the Lord. Practicing both will enable one to experience freedom and avoid sorrow because you are not driven by personal or materials desires.

Popularity of Karma Yoga

As one of the four pillars to yoga practice, karma yoga is observed by the great majority. In fact, most people are unaware that its teachings govern people's lives and help dictate their actions. For several centuries, people has had to categorize their actions as being “good” or “bad”. Most often those decisions indicate their tendencies and the things of value to their lives.

As more people understand the value of karma, there is also a gradual increase of people who have decided to practice karma yoga.

Karma Yoga

What Does Yoga of Action Means?

Karma yoga is the term used to refer to the concept of yoga action, to be precise selfless action. This was an emphasis in the yoga practice during ancient Hindu times, particularly Mahatma Gandhi. Individuals who have chosen to practice karma yoga must therefore dedicate themselves into performing selfless service.

It believes in the concept of a Divine Power, which rules the universe and one must work in harmony with. Therefore, all motivations of your actions should be based on that Divine Power instead of driven by personal desires. As a result, karma yogics no longer think of desires as relating to the future but is more concerned on living a more fulfilling present life, with actions governed by a higher being. In fact, you subconsciously perform actions according to this being and push ourselves toward it.

Practicing Karma Yoga

It is very simple to practice karma yoga. However, you need a certain level of self-discipline and specific qualities to be able to understand and master its teachings.

Karma yoga does not value material wealth but emphasizes service, through body and mind. For example, you must always extend your effort in trying to help someone in need as this will help purify your heart. However, your intentions for doing such action will also be taken into account. So, purity of the heart and willingness in doing those service without any attachment to the benefits that you can get from doing it is most vital in practicing karma yoga.

Qualities of a Karma Yogi

Given the benefits and the elevated experience that can be derived with practicing karma yoga, it isn't a philosophy that suits for everyone. Indeed, there are certain qualifications that practitioners of karma yoga would have to comply with. This will enable one to observe the guidelines of these school of yoga without effort and with more effectiveness.

If you have the following qualities, then you are a good fit for karma yoga:

*You must be devoid of any negative thoughts or attributes such as egotism, greed, lust, and anger. According to the teachings of karma yoga, these qualities bear no fruit despite consuming your energy and vitality for life.
*You must not desire things that provide self-gratification such as fame, approbation, admiration from others, and the like. You need to perform action according to what good it does for the majority instead of what it will bring to you.
*You should be noble in speech and action. It is not enough that you speak sweet and gentle words for others but that you also treat them in the rightful manner and with respect, as you would want to be treated.


Practicing karma yoga is one of the more difficult yoga practices ever established. Unlike other yoga philosophies that require one to have physical stability and fitness, this one needs you to have a strong will of mind and a pure heart to be able to follow its guidelines.

When you are able to accomplish the paths of karma yoga, though, it can be quite a fulfilling experience. Here are some of the ways in which you can benefit from karma yoga:

  • It enables one to develop humility, mercy, sympathy, and tolerance of things that surround her/him.
  • A feeling of separation or isolation is eliminated as you feel that you belong to a bigger universe.
  • The emphasis on doing selfless act enables you to develop a liberal outlook in life.
  • You will gain a deeper knowledge of your Self.
  • Your dedication to service enables you to grow towards your spiritual path in life. It is your spirit of service that drives you forward.
  • The biggest benefit of practicing karma yoga is the purity of heart that radiates into joy and internal bliss.

Karma Yoga Videos on Amazon

Karma Yoga Books on Amazon


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