This Yogic Exploration All Began with a Yoga Teacher Training Assignment.
Director of In Fine Feather Yoga, Helena McKinney shares what started Kerry Ann’s yogic exploration.
This summer at In Fine Feather Yoga, all the students enrolled in our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training course took the summer months off. Which meant they were out of the classroom and putting their training into purpose and action. They had a number of assignments and self study projects to complete throughout the summer, one of which was 5 hours of volunteering within the community. The intention of this exercise was to bring the moral principals of the Yamas and Niyamas into the volunteer work they did with an organization or charity that was not related to yoga. Specifically, looking to explore and exercise these principle to help guide them through the experience of volunteering. We felt really inclined to share one particular students Karma Yoga exercise because it is the embodiment of how the Yoga practice should be lived and explored everyday to enrich our personal growth but also our connections to other people. When Kerry Ann submitted her paper, we were so moved with how the principles of the practice came to life. If you aren't very familiar with the Yamas and Niyamas, you will still love this article, but we've also provided you with a link HERE to do some background reading if you feel included to know more about the philosophy.
Kerry, we want to thank you again for your bravery in sharing this. You are raw and honest and show yourself so much through this piece. We are honoured to be apart of your growth!
Seeing the Principles of the Practice in Action
Karma Yoga is the yoga of service. It is translated as the path of “union through action”. It means doing something without any thought of gain for yourself or any fulfillment of selfish desire. I think this is one of the most beautiful forms of yoga because it really cultivates the essence of becoming one with the flow of life it gives the yogi a lot of freedom. They are able to forget themselves and see the interconnectedness of all life. You are able to see yourself in others practicing this type of yoga.
This assignment helped me in many ways. Upon studying the Yamas and Niyamas to see which one I would use to focus on for my Karma Yoga, I was first inspired by the first Yama, Ahimsa. I love this Yama and I try to integrate it into my essence daily. I meditated on my compassion towards all living things and thought about how I would do something based on that. I belong to a Facebook group called Crafting for Charity and I have thought often of making items for this group, but never set time aside. I saw that the woman who runs the page was taking preemie hats to the hospital the following week and thought this would be a perfect opportunity for me to finally make something for charity. This also ties into another Yama, Aparigraha. I realized studying this Yama and myself that I have a hard time of letting go of my attachments and trusting in the abundance of the universe. I am like a squirrel this way, storing more than I will ever use in fear that I will be without one day. I also realized that I have an attachment to my material thing through my hoarding of yarn. There is a saying in the crafting word “Stash to outlive you” and I definitely have that. I even inherited my mother’s yarn stash when she died. I have so many bags and containers of wool that I saw this as a great opportunity to use what I have for a beautiful cause. My stash of wool became a metaphor for me. I noticed the emotional attachment that I have to my wool. In the past I have used crafting to make money when times have been financially tight. I keep my large amounts of wool so that I can generate income when I need to which made me realize that I have a deep seated fear of not having food or the money I need to pay my bills. I have gone through periods in my life of being poor and barely getting by that I had developed a fear of that happening again. I was able to look into my past and see that I have always been provided for and have never gone without what I truly need.
I was so glad to find a way to use some of my wool to help ease the suffering of the little preemies. I also thought about what it must be like to have a preemie baby and the worry it must be for the parents. I decided to make a set of hats using all the colours of the different houses in Harry Potter. I thought it would put a smile on the parents face to see their little Gryffindor baby. I think that when we start with Ahimsa and see the world through compassionate eyes then we can see ourselves in everyone else. It helps us see where our own suffering lies and we can know what kind of healing we can bring to the world around us. It really is by giving purely and not expecting anything in return that we can heal our own sense of not having enough. It helped me understand that we all need one another and that we are all interlinked. That we need each other as a community. There was a need in the community for preemie hats and those of us who could help fill that need did. When I went to take the hats to the woman who was taking them to the hospital I saw how many hats she had from other people. It was truly amazing to see the generosity of time and materials to help provide comfort and healing to those in need. I felt part of a bigger community by taking part in this opportunity to volunteer this way.