March 2020 Blog: The Practice of Sustained, Selfless Service

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We all remember when we really got “hooked” on Yoga–perhaps you began coming to the studio every moment possible, perhaps you began making huge shifts in your personal life, or perhaps you simply realized you were beginning to breathe more deeply than ever before.

The initial leg of a life in practice can be flashy. It can be fun and exciting and full of upheaval. This is a time of serving the self more than you have ever done before. You are coming home when you did not even know you were away. This is a necessary experience to have, and sometimes the feelings of chaos and radical shiftings can last for a very long time. We are also never truly done with this phase because our practice inevitably ebbs and flows. As we all know, the moment we feel as though we have fully figured something out it changes!

Although we may feel immediate benefits after just a few classes, our Yoga practice is a lifelong commitment. There is a deep well of maturation that we start tapping into once we commit ourselves to conducting a life aligned with the practice of Yoga. Here at Asheville Community Yoga, we see this process show up in Seva Yoga. Seva is Sanskrit for selfless service, which sometimes means serving when it is less comfortable or convenient. 

In the beginning we often become acquainted with Yoga from a perspective of personal growth, which can initially limit the scope of our service. Our awareness shifts as the practice matures, and we understand the wider impact of each moment we spend living in alignment. This makes it easier to go beyond into the unknown, because we are able to trust that our actions come from a place of service and will therefore never ultimately lead us awry.

This shift is crucial for the longevity and honesty of our practice, because it introduces true selflessness: we must conduct ourselves in a way that creates and serves a better world. This level of intentionality means that each situation we find ourselves in is an opportunity to choose: how can I best serve here? How can I navigate in a way that causes the least harm, and potentially the most benefit?

What does long term service look like in our community? We see a beautiful example of it in our over 70 volunteer instructors who show up week after week to hold space for a community of almost 22,000 students. We also see Seva when students stay after an evening class to help mop the floors, or arrive at the studio early in order to help fold blue towels. There are also many community members who have been involved in sustained service through our many periodic projects over the last 10 years. We provide a monthly service project, which is an opportunity to join with community and cultivate Seva together. For information on our service projects and other volunteer opportunities, please reference the “Freedom Thru Service” board in our lobby.

Ultimately when we practice Yoga we learn to lead life in service. This essence of Seva is everywhere we look, and we can find great joy and fulfillment in serving each opportunity to the absolute fullest.



Blog post written by Emily Haaksma

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