The Privilege of Practicing Seva

Lainie Devina Dream Catcher

Lainie Devina via YogaWorksBlog, 08/31/2015

Let’s be honest about the reality of yoga today in our modern culture: it’s a business. Studio access and studying with your favorite teacher isn’t free—there is a significant exchange of money. AND I think this is a good thing! The fact that yoga is thriving shows just how much it is valued (and likewise how much value it offers)

I feel blessed to be able to make my living and help support my family as a yoga teacher. And because my family’s basic needs are met, I recognize that I live with deep privilege. When our passions and livelihoods are sustainable—when we have the freedom of having enough, it means we’re in a position to give back. Seva (a service that is performed without any expectation of result or award for the person performing it) is the part of my yoga practice that fulfills this connection.

As I dive deeper into preparations for a fundraiser I’m hosting this September, the theme of privilege and seva have been deeply present. Each day, my eyes open wider to how integral giving back is to my yoga (life) practice and that being able to offer myself in this way is an honor.

Just as we practice and work toward a challenging physical posture, we can practice seva. It’s a behavior and lifestyle we can develop, strengthen, and hone. One that benefits not just us, but everyone around us. It’s yoga, practiced both off and on the mat.

There are endless ways to give: Time. Finances. Influence. All of these ways and more are an opportunity to support our community. All it requires is one conscious step at a time, placed in a special way to make a difference.

Create a few moments to pause in your day (it doesn’t need to be a formal meditation) to consider your strengths, gifts and blessings—that which inspires you, speaks to you, connects you to yourself, and see if something is there that might be of service to someone else.

My hope for my students—and for everyone in our lives—is to embrace our privilege and embrace seva. Giving back can be an incredibly enriching part of our practice.