December 3, 2018
When we think of Yoga, we often think of the physical practice and benefits that are often found in a Yoga Studio or Online. However, we typically miss out on learning about a practice of Yoga that doesn’t need to involve a Single Yoga Pose or Stretchy Pants: Seva Yoga.
What is Seva Yoga?
Seva (“say-vah”) Yoga is the Yoga of Selfless Service. As a practice, Seva stems from two branches of Yoga: Karma Yoga (Yoga of Action) and Bhakti Yoga (Devotion inspired by Divine Love). Seva comes from the Sanskrit words, “saha” meaning “with that” and “eva” meaning “also” which helps us take our focus away from ourselves and extends it out into the Grand Collective that is Community.
Seva Yoga is when we offer Tangible Actions with a pure focus on supporting and strengthening the Grand Collective, rather than solely focusing on ourselves.
It also inspires us to be deliberate to steep our Tangible Actions in Love by acknowledging that those we serve are worthy of Great Love, Compassion, and Respect. This helps us ensure our actions stay pure in intent, keeping us away from self-righteousness and Savior Mode, and remembering that every being we encounter is a Great Teacher. This helps us offer Support with Open Minds and Hearts, Ready to Listen to those we Serve.
Why Seva Yoga?
“When we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
—Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
Physical Yoga can certainly be a safe place to individually process our lives. We can find so much strength, healing, and empowerment on the four corners of our mat. One can hope that we get ourselves to a place in which we can not only be of service to ourselves but to each other. One can hope that the Love we find for ourselves can help us Share the Love.
Seva Yoga can be a great step into Understanding the great Capacity we have to be of Service to each other. I personally have found a greater sense of gratitude and awareness at how simply showing up consistently can be what it takes to help someone shift from Surviving to Thriving.
When I practice Seva Yoga, I often leave the practice starry-eyed and filled with such great Love at just *being* with the community served. Many times I leave with the realization that the beautiful traces and lessons they left on my heart will last my lifetime, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
What are Acts of Seva Yoga?
Seva Yoga may be expressed in many ways. One can privately participate in these acts of kindness or be a part of a group in these examples of offerings:
- Neighborhood Cleanup (picking up trash or assisting with tree planting, etc.).
- Identifying a need for donations or other ways to offer support to someone ready to receive and gather according to that need (food pantry, support of nonprofits, etc.).
- Offering your talents to a community that may not easily have access to your services (tutoring, mentoring, therapy, administrative assistance/organization, social media support, maintenance, landscaping, etc.).
- Finding a nonprofit, cause, or community that inspires you to act with kindness and tune into the many ways you may support that community in need via their website or by joining them in their efforts.
Things to Consider Helping You Get Started
- Start by thinking of what specifically moves you to act with Love. Let that be what leads your search for how to connect with communities in need.
- Also, what are ways that you can contribute that don’t feel like work? Do you Love being Physically Active? Does Admin Get you Going? Do you Love Hosting Events? This can help you think of how you may specifically contribute to these communities with Ease and Excitement!
Smaller Grassroots Nonprofits
Smaller grassroots nonprofits can be a great way to offer support as they are often in Great Need of your services.
Check their website and social media outlets if possible and look for what specific needs they may reach out for Online. This can be a good way to start considering how you may be of service, and the nonprofits will appreciate that you have already taken the time to learn about them and how you can help when you are ready to send an email their way to express specific interests.
- Possible Challenges – Patience and Consistency may be necessary. Oftentimes Young NonProfits are short-staffed so don’t feel discouraged if you do not hear from them right away. Follow-up emails may be necessary in order to get the ball rolling.
- Benefits- Being a Part of a Start-Up NonProfit can be INCREDIBLY REWARDING! You oftentimes get to be a HUGE part of the many milestones towards seeing a NonProfit to Greatness. If you get a special jolt of energy and excitement from helping build something Great, Young NonProfits may be what is in order.
Big Corporate Nonprofits
Big Corporate nonprofits can oftentimes be a great way to offer support from a Corporate Project Scale. Are your CoWorkers interested in visiting a specific nonprofit community to fully immerse yourselves in understanding? Bigger Corporations entities may be the way for such a project.
- Possible Challenges- The personal gratitude may be harder to find as typically projects of that scale are a one-time endeavor. That being said, my personal experience with Habitat for Humanity was absolutely filled with a lot of feel-good sentiments due to the Veteran Volunteer support sharing their stories of being a part of Habitat for Humanity. It may also be due to the long-day commitment that is usually a part of that experience! Many nonprofits that engage with those they serve may also require an extra background check and fingerprinting to ensure the safety of their population, at cost to you.
- Benefits- If you are looking for quick quarterly activities, this may be possible to manage with great ease. Also, many are so established that you may find less resistance in offering what specifically lights you up!
Seva Yoga with Yoga Asana!
I am forever grateful to be a part of the Uptown Yoga Community as they have helped me grow my scale of commitment to Seva Yoga. I still remember that magical text from Jennifer Chitwood to offer Sounds in Final Relation with Dj Drez at One Love Dallas in 2015 to grow as a presenter with Seva Yoga at the forefront.
Last year’s One Love offering selected my 501c3 Yoga Outreach NonProfit, Hanuman Homies as the local benefactor. My Heart will have a special place for Uptown Yoga and the faith Jennifer Chitwood and Jennifer Usherr instilled in me.
Uptown Yoga is a beautiful community that constantly looks for ways to Incorporate Seva into its offerings! In this coming year, we are striving to offer quarterly opportunities with Jennifer Usherr’s leadership to Join in Community and Seva.
This Holiday Season, we are offering the community a chance to give back by helping us gather unwrapped gifts in support of Mosaic Family Services. We hope you join us in Seva Yoga this Holiday Season and stay with us to learn about the next quarterly opportunity to Give Back!
Stefanie Tovar is the Proud Founder and President of 501c3 NonProfit Hanuman Homies. She focuses on supporting Youth in DFW with Yoga. Donation Drives and Support to those who Love and Serve Them. Mark Your Calendars for March 2nd and Follow Her to learn more about this BIG opportunity to Join in Love! https://www.hanumanhomies.org
Jennifer Chitwood is constantly Giving Back Locally and abroad through One Love Dallas to support youth and women across the globe. By 2017, One Love had raised $340,000 to support healing and empowerment internationally and locally. To work with Jennifer Chitwood in this capacity is to grow yourself in many areas for the Greater Good.