During my 200 hour teacher training, we covered the topic of the Four Paths of Yoga. The Four Paths of yoga is simply HOW you practice yoga in your life. And you can practice it one way, two ways, three, or all four.
In a nutshell, they are:
- Kharma Yoga – The practice of actions and intentions, basically like, Mother Theresa.
- Bhakti Yoga – The practice of love and devotion, through chanting and singing mantras, rituals, or other forms of devout worship.
- Raja Yoga – The practice and science of mental and physical control, like asanas and meditation. What you would typically find in a public yoga studio.
- Janna Yoga – The practice of studying the philosophy and wisdom of yoga and one’s self.
What caught my attention most during this lesson was Kharma Yoga. My wonderful instructor who was covering this topic delivered it to us in such a compelling way that I got excited and gave her all my attention. She said,
“Once you know this, you can never go back…”
The words “…you can never go back…” really was the catch.
Maybe it changes you, maybe it doesn’t. But I know once she delivered this lesson, it permanently glued itself to all the wrinkles in my brain, and it still haunts me today. But in a good way.
In fact, I wanted to learn something cool and life changing. I was ready.
She taught us about listening to our inner voice. The voice that tells us what’s right and wrong, our morals, principles, ethics, our compass. As deep as this may sound, it can be as simple as seeing a piece of litter on the ground and picking it up, or leaving it be and ignoring the fact that you even stopped to think to even pick it up.
Or maybe you litter all the time even though you know you shouldn’t. Or using the bathroom and leaving toilet paper everywhere, pissing all over the seat, not flushing your nastiness, and leaving it there for the next person or maintenance to deal with.
Or it can go deeper such as seeing a person bullied and just watching it happen and not doing anything but feeling like you should, but don’t. All the small regrets of should of’s and could of’s of simple acts of kindness and courage that don’t take much at all.
It’s simply listening to your conscious and most importantly acting, because it’s what you feel is right. That inner voice could also be that voice telling you to be more courageous, more spontaneous, more forgiving, or stronger when you should be. But then maybe you end up chickening out and regretting it later. The practice of Kharma Yoga is there to help you be who you truly are, if you only listen. It’s there for you to grow balls, and kick some cajunas.
Prior to this lesson, I felt comfortable ignoring that voice, that feeling of laziness or guilt, and even the nagging feelings of “I should of”. But now that I knew that this was like…a practice, a type of yoga even – I couldn’t go back. Why should I or anyone continue acts of cowardice, inconsideration, carelessness, and ignorance?
Now that you know this, could you?
So now to the dead squirrel.
One day after a large snowstorm, I decided to drive up the street to grab a bag of coffee beans. The large amount of snow had narrowed the streets down considerably. So as I was driving up a 2-way street, cars were swerving away from something in the middle of the road. It was a dead squirrel.
As I passed it I felt so utterly terrible for it. I usually feel extra bad for road kill though. Every time I pass road kill I would make the sign of the cross, get chills from how gross it is, and then touch the rosary that’s dangling from my rear view mirror in hopes by doing so would send it to heaven. It’s dumb. It’s actually something I’m embarrassed about so I only do it when I’m alone in the car. It’s also probably the only reason why I still have a rosary hanging in my car since I’m no longer a practicing Catholic. Its purpose is to send road kill to heaven, and plus I’m scared that if I take it down, it’ll no longer protect me from car accidents. Anyway.
When I passed the squirrel, I saw it was still intact. No blood, no guts. It was just laying on its back, belly up, looking all fuzzy, like it was just chilling in the middle of the road. I entertained the idea of moving it because the cars were dangerously swerving. I quickly thought “maybe I’ll move it.” But I ended up pushing the thought away and drove on to get my coffee beans and forgot about the whole thing.
I then drove back home and see the same scene. Cars dangerously swerving around this poor creature in the narrow road. So I listened to the crazy voice in my head and pull over close as I can next to the snow that was plowed off the road. Because, you know, Karma and sh*t. I had my winter gloves on and I grab a bunch of Starbucks napkins I hoard in my glove compartment and wait for a clearing and I went for the dead squirrel.
The squirrel was still warm but I was so happy the body wasn’t desecrated. If it was I swear I wouldn’t of done it. I walk over a few houses to a wood clearing and place the squirrel gently on the snow, away from harms way. I walk back to my car, and a f*ing car zooms past and smashes my side view mirror and continues to zooms away.
I stood there 100 feet away, mouth open, dumb struck. My car damaged.
I really wonder how karma works, but regardless, I felt amazing having saved the dead squirrel from being mushed to bloody pulp and following the insanity of my inner voice. The car damage didn’t really bother me either. My man is a mechanic and I had gotten the much needed coffee beans.
For more information on the Four Paths, check this link out, they spell it out in a way that’s easy to digest: The Four Path of Yoga
And for more information on Karma or Kharma Yoga this article rocks too: