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In this day and age it’s easy to become jaded or disassociated with ourselves, with each other, and with the world around us. At first glance, it can sometimes feel as though each of us is alone and left to fend for ourselves as we fight our way through this crazy life. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. This feeling is one of the many reasons why coming to the mat, and getting the chance to reconnect with ourselves and the beautiful world around, us is so vital.

When I first decided to try yoga, my focus was solely on the physical aspects (asana). At the time, I had only superficial goals. I had no idea what was in store for me when I decided to give it a try. Over time I began to realize that there was so much more to yoga than I had ever imagined. At first I felt overwhelmed, and then excited to learn as much as I could.

The many complexities that have and continue to unfold throughout this journey, both on and off the mat, are fascinating. Each angle of the practice, whether physical, emotional, philosophical, or even medicinal, weaves together to create exactly what is promised—yoga: union, oneness.

One aspect, which is very dear to my heart, is Karma Yoga (the yoga of action, or selfless service)— paying it forward and helping to create a kinder and brighter environment. Ever since I can remember, I have been drawn to helping others and have always enjoyed volunteering, donating to worthy causes, and advocating for the voiceless. I didn’t contemplate why this was, because it simply was. I felt no attachment to an end result and wanted nothing out of it except for the satisfaction of doing it. Perhaps that was my first experience with yoga.

When I first enrolled in The Yoga Sanctuary’s Teacher Training program and we received our syllabus, I was excited and intrigued to find that we would be volunteering time to The Animal Welfare League as part of our training. From the outside looking in, one might ask “What does this have to do with yoga or teaching people to stand in Tree Pose?” The answer: “Everything.” We are all connected and our collective energies both on and off the mat help to unite us.

We all strive for a quieter mind, a healthier body, and a more positive outlook on life. There are certainly many ways to get there, but applying Karma Yoga—both on and off the mat—is an inspiring means.

There is a sense of inner peace and harmony that comes with acts of selflessness. Suddenly, the mind feels quiet, the body feels content, and the true Self has a chance to just be. It is something that cannot be described in words. It needs to be experienced firsthand.

I look forward to continuing this path alongside many of you, perhaps by exuding kindness into the world; maybe feeling inspired to volunteer time and effort to help others; or even by turning inward and sharing some of that love and support with ourselves. After all, energy is contagious. Sometimes a friendly smile is all it takes to lift someone up.

Imagine if each of us were to share this experience. Think of how much positive energy would be circulating through us, our community, and throughout the entire world. The thought alone fills me with peace. And that is a beautiful thing.