This month, March 2020, I made the leap to move to Canada on a 2-year work visa. My first stop, after taking 3 flights, 3 local busses and a ferry to Kootenay Bay, is Yasodhara Ashram, BC. Here I am spending a month as a Karma Yogi, taking part in a programme the Ashram referrers affectionately to as OMs (One Monthers) alongside many other wonderful people. One of the beautiful things about this Ashram is the people - some, like me, are staying for a month, whereas others have been here for 30 years, living, working and studying. There are people from all over the world who come here for varying lengths of time. A recurring theme is that many of them are drawn back to this place.
About the Ashram
The Ashram is isolated, awe-inspiring and embodies stillness. It is surrounded by fir trees and thick woodland and sits nestled into a large lake; I am lucky to be here when there is still snow on the ground, making the place feel even stiller and untouched. There are several buildings and accommodations: the Temple of Light is most majestic – nightly Satsangs are held here for the community with chanting and a talk on philosophy; there are many beautiful prayer rooms in which you can take a personal practice – meditation, asana (keep your eye out for these rooms appearing on my Youtube!); and there is a wonderous kitchen that brings out 3 nutritious and vegetarian meals a day - amazingly 20% of food is grown at the Ashram!
One of the main practices here, and something that every member of the community takes part in, is Karma Yoga. I will be spending the bulk of my month here working with this practice.
What is Karma Yoga?
Karma yoga is founded on the principle of selfless service. This means expecting no gain from the work that you do and instead seeing it as an offering. In this way, karma yoga means treating all jobs and actions the same and trying to stay mindful through these tasks. For example, housekeeping, mopping and sweeping the dining area are all part of karma yoga at the Ashram. Observing the body and mind while doing these activities is said to reveal many deeply ingrained habits and reactionary ways that we have accumulated throughout our lives.
Working without complaint or gratification is challenging for everyone in different ways – but I am already finding it helpful to gain patience with finding out old habits and step by step changing these for the better. Hand in hand with Karma yoga at Yasodhara is reflecting and journaling your experience throughout the day. Today, while splitting and moving wood with a resident called Chuck, we reflected on what in our lives we are destroying, changing and altering. I am finding writing these ideas down a surprising way to understand myself better!
So far my experience at the Ashram has been really special. Karma yoga is something powerful that we can all do to take our practice off of our mat – simply by cultivating self-awareness in the smallest of tasks.
If you have any questions about anything mentioned, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.