By Kari Harendorf, May, 2007

In order to bring a sense of continuity and cohesiveness to all of our classes and give teachers a theme to inspire and inform their teaching, Yoga Shanti is introducing a “Focus of the Month.” Jessica and Colleen chose to begin with the concept of “karma” and thought that I should be the person to write something about the topic since Karma is the name I chose for my daughter.

Karma translates as deed, act or action. The Law of Karma is the Law of Cause and Effect, for every action there is a reaction. The effect of all our actions create past, present and future circumstances. According to karma, positive acts bring about good results and negative acts bring about bad results. Some reactions may be immediate (if you place your hand in the flame it will burn) while other effects may not be felt until later in the present life or the next. Karma is not about being punished or thinking that when unpleasant things happen in your life that it is a result of something bad you must have done in your past. In fact, Karma is not about reward, punishment or blame at all. My teacher Douglas Brooks says that “Karma is about accountability, not necessarily responsibility.” With this in mind we can see that the point of karma is to work with, and thus through our life’s circumstances rather than blame them on others or our own past.

Pema Chodron writes in 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion “the idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings you need in order to open your heart… Your life gives you everything you need to learn how to open further.”

Rumi echoes this notion in the famous poem The Guest House “a joy, a depression, a meanness, a crowd of sorrows…. be grateful for whatever comes because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” Every circumstance in our life presents us with a chance to wake up, to know the Self and move towards a state of yoga, or the state of nothing missing. The Doctrine of Karma can push us towards right thinking, right speech and right action. One of the many paths to achieve “Yoga” is the Yoga of Action known as Karma Yoga which is selfless service. For me, there is no greater
expression of karma yoga than being a mother. The Guru Neem Karoli Baba told Krishna Das and his other devotees that the way to become enlightened is to “Feed people. Serve people.”┬áThat pretty much sums up being a mother!

In my brief two years at the job of motherhood, my daughter has taught me more about my past, shown me how to stay in the present moment, and made me more aware of my actions on my future than anything else in my life thus far. She is my greatest blessing and the culmination of all that I have done right. Truly, my good Karma.

Kari Harendorf

Kari became a yoga teacher in 2001. She holds numerous yoga teaching certifications, but her favorite by far is the Yoga Shanti Teacher Training Program, which she has now completed four times: twice as a mentor, and twice on faculty. She opened East Yoga Center, in the East Village of Manhattan, in 2004, and was the director of the studio for seven years, until she moved with her family to Sag Harbor full time in 2010. Kari is thrilled to be a part of YSNY.

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