“The way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Ghandi
Seva translates to selfless-service and is one of the main tenements of Karma Yoga. How do you act in service without involving the ego? Can we consider our motivations and move from a place of selflessness? If we practice seva to satisfy the ego, we are making the service all about US (and then is it even seva??) To offer ourselves where we are needed, without asking for anything in return, be it a return action, monetary compensation, gratitude or even recognition, is the ultimate action in the world.
Consider how you might act with less ego and ask yourself these questions (remember to consider without judging yourself!): Do you volunteer because it boosts yourself up? Does that make the service personal to you? How does it feel when you offer help because you genuinely care, and are not worried about the return? How does it feel to take the “I” out of the equation?
Align/Flow: Twisted Monkey Pose
Use this big twist to open your heart and create room for a focus on seva. We lead with one foot forward but look around us to see where we may be needed. We often see where seva is needed when it’s right in front of our noses, but what happens when we go out of our way to look all around us?
Twisted Monkey – think dragon post with a quad stretch and a twist. This pose can feel oh so nice….whennnn your body is into it. And when it’s not, it may feel like quite a reach. Props are super helpful here to get into every aspect of the pose. Some options for you to consider might be: a blanket to pad your back knee, protecting those tender spots from grinding down. A strap to lengthen your arm and bring that foot a little closer to you. A block under your supporting hand to help lengthen the spine and create more room to lift the chest and open into the twist. There’s a lot about this pose that will change the sensations as well, depending on how you move and position your body. So play around with it! Don’t feel like you need to hold it or stay perfectly still.
Stretch/Restore: Scorpion Stretch
Another opportunity to open our hearts and look around us — what can we see beyond our personal scope, beyond what is right in front of our gaze? Where can we be of service?
This simple stretch can be modified in number of ways to accommodate your body’s particular needs. You can lay on your belly extending one arm out from your shoulder, and then roll over that shoulder using your opposite hand as a stabilizer. Try this same position at the wall! Facing the wall to start, extending one arm long and rolling your chest open. You might also try different positions with your extended arm — bring that arm to a “Y” or “W” position may change where and how you feel the stretch.