October 1 2019

What we share with yoga: altruism and harmony

The Yoga for Karuna initiative arose from the shared commitment of several yoga teachers and Karuna-Shechen’s desire to make the world a better place.

Return to the source: clarity of the mind

Our founder, Matthieu Ricard, invites us to practice mindfulness and meditation to become better versions of ourselves, driven by the values of altruism and compassion. According to him, regular mental training in mindfulness gives us the power to transform ourselves and change the world. 

The founding texts of yoga and Matthieu Ricard’s vision contain the same message: developing our inner qualities by meditating helps us clarify the mind and become a better person, in unity with others. The practice of yoga described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (-200 BC) is to pacify the mind through various postural (asanas), respiratory (pranayamas), meditative, and spiritual techniques. Yogis therefore aim for an inner mind-body balance and harmony with everything surrounding them: nature, other sensitive beings, and the universe.

Karuna-Shechen also works to change the world by helping those in need in the Himalayan region. The Yoga for Karuna initiative gives us the opportunity to share common values and pursue our aspiration for greater kindness, unity, and harmony in the world.

Unity with the body

A healthy mind in a healthy body! Every yogi is sensitive to his or her mental health and very attached to his or her physical health. The practice of yoga allows caring of the body through dynamic postures that strengthen muscles and joints, and through breathing awareness in order to breathe better and therefore live better. Practitioners can testify that the benefits of yoga for the body are real, and some even using it as therapy.

At Karuna-Shechen, we also call attention to body and health. To do so, we develop targeted health programs with a strong emphasis on preventative actions. Our medical centers and mobile clinics provide outreach and quality care to isolated populations in India and Nepal. In a holistic approach, because we know that the first step towards good health is good food, we also set up organic vegetable gardens, helping people in need have access to nutrients. They are trained in good gardening and composting practices that respect the local environment. Karuna-Shechen and yoga share the same approach to health and well-being, based on body awareness, prevention, and self-respect.

The right action

In India’s ashrams, yogis foster better living together by practicing a few hours of Karma Yoga every day. These are selfless acts, made for the benefit of the community, and often evolve into meditative practices that become parts of a yogi’s journey. Some yogis even declare reaching awakening while raking leaves or cleaning dishes.

At Karuna-Shechen, anchored in the ideal of “compassion in action,” we cultivate altruism in our hearts and actions to serve others with joy and determination. We believe in the importance of fair actions for the benefit of communities, so they can break the cycle of poverty. Thus, we provide vulnerable and disadvantaged populations with access to education and professional training, clean and safe drinking water, solar power, and other sustainable solutions.

In isolated and rural communities, we work hand-in-hand with villagers to develop sustainable solutions that have a significant impact on their lives. For instance, our solar power program helps remote villages in the mountains of Nepal provide green electricity to hundreds of their homes.


Together to change the world

Because both Karuna-Shechen and yoga originated in India and promote self-care to better the world, we unite the strength of our values around the Yoga for Karuna initiative.

Whether you are a teacher, a beginner, or an advanced student, join us October 25-26-27 by giving or joining a yoga class on a donation basis, for the benefit of our international solidarity projects in India which help 235,000 people every year.

Yoga for Karuna is a unique opportunity to join forces to reduce suffering in the world and improve the quality of life for those most in need. Together, let us be grateful to India, which has been a great source of inspiration for the West, and whose practices and wisdom still contribute to everyone’s well-being and personal development.

Together, let us show altruism in action!