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The Ultimate Guide To Karma Yoga: Everything You Need To Know

by Beth Shaw

Throughout my many years of teaching yoga, nothing has served me more joy than giving back. Through teaching, volunteering in my community, cooking for others…it’s a joy that can never be tarnished.

Karma yoga is defined simply as “the yoga of action” – living a life of spiritual action and selfless service.

One of the best ways to achieve a higher purpose in life is with two simple words: Giving Back. By turning the focus away from ourselves, we are able to channel a powerful amount of energy onto others and the community around us. Here is a step by step guide to finding your higher purpose and truly practicing karma yoga.

karma yoga

Everything You Need To Know About “The Yoga Of Action”

1. Find your higher purpose. 

This sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is. We all carry a higher purpose in life that is beyond us. The trick is to find and connect to that purpose. Once you do, you will feel renowned happiness that will guide you in life. Here are a few tips on how to find it:

  • Practice meditation. Use introspection during mediation to listen to your inner voice.
  • Understand the difference between a thought and an insight. We have close to 60,000 thoughts a day, but don’t worry–an insight will stand out because it will have resonance.
  • Ask yourself this: What in this world touches your heart? Is it animals, children, the elderly, veterans, homeless, people with HIV or cancer?
  • Pray to the universe to send you signs and synchronicities.
  • Keep a dream journal. Often, dreams can provide powerful insights and answers.
  • Listen for messages from the universe. Look for ‘signs’ throughout your day. They may come from other people when you least expect it.

Related: How To Find Your Purpose

2. Understand the importance of giving back…

Watching someone’s face light up when you have helped them in some way is one of the most joyful gifts you can receive. If you have been blessed with the gift of health, giving back can – and does – feel like the best thing you could possibly do. We are but one tiny being on this big planet, but by making small differences in others’ lives, we make big strides to achieving a happier world.

3. …and start doing it.

Once you’ve given yourself the opportunity to find your higher purpose, you will start feeling and experiencing the signs that point you to what that purpose might be. You may also notice that some of your beliefs and practices have shifted slightly, leading you to something greater and more divine.

Sometimes, the hardest part is just starting. Here are my suggestions that will help jumpstart you into action:

  • Volunteer at your local animal shelter or ASPCA to walk orphaned dogs.
  • Cook at a homeless shelter.
  • Volunteer to read to underprivileged children or the blind.
  • Donate books or magazines to a library, hospital, or retirement center.
  • Join your local Habitat for Humanity and help build houses for families in need.
  • Donate old towels, sheets, blankets, or coats to a nearby homeless shelter.
  • Become a “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” to an at-risk youth.
  • Donate clothes to a women’s or men’s shelter.
  • Donate blood to the American Red Cross.
  • Volunteer with Meals on Wheels to deliver food to the elderly.

There are hundreds of ways you can give back. The important thing is to choose a path that means something to you.

4. Practice gratitude.

In his book Growing the Positive Mind, William Larkin notes that gratitude is the emotion that produces the most positive reaction in the body. Practicing gratitude and being thankful literally creates a healthier environment for our body, mind, and spirit.

At YogaFit, we practice what I call “gratitude lists.” Each day, we jot down the things we are grateful for. Keeping a gratitude list or gratitude journal helps you gain an understanding of what makes you happy and gives you grace.

Related: The Importance Of Being Grateful

Your gratitude journal can contain anything and everything you’re thankful for–your health, your friends and family, your yoga practice, the sun, whatever. It’s meant to be a safe space where you can be wholly honest with yourself and practice being grateful for all the things the universe has given you.

Live your life with a higher purpose. Once you do, you will experience an abundance of joy and newfound meaning.


241301_2036284223216_8377103_oA life long student of fitness, psychology, philosophy, spirituality and health, Beth Shaw is committed to helping people find their own perfect health‚ physically and mentally. The Founder of YogaFit and Author of YogaLean, Beth is also dedicated to giving back, Karma yoga and community service. Beth is an animal advocate and sits on the HSUS National Council. Her non-profit organization, Visionary Women in Fitness gives scholarships to women. Shaw has dedicated her life to YogaFit and the transformational growth that the company creates globally.


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