Seva Yoga in Nicaragua: Seeking God in Service
“Service is the first step along the spiritual path.” – Sri Sathya Sai Baba
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Through yoga, we seek God.
God within, and God without, in any form, with any name. Yogic philosophy doesn’t care what face you give to God, which religious texts you find it in, or whether you believe in a personified God at all. It asks only this: that the practitioner recognize that there is a creative, sustaining force in the universe bigger than our small selves, and that it is that force that connects us all. For the yoga practitioner, there is God in all things. Animate or inanimate, animal, mineral or vegetable, every part of our world contains this universal energy. If it is God we seek, then, it is necessary only to look around us.
Surrender to the Lord
Patanjali tells us time and again about the practice of ishvarapranidhana, or surrender to the Lord, this universal energy. In the Sadhana Pada, in fact, he implies that perfect practice of this surrender can in itself lead one to samadhi. Surrendering to an amorphous, unidentifiable power is no simple act, however. To learn this kind of surrender, most of us must first be able to find it through something more tangible, an act of the human realm. Seva, selfless service, offers us just that. If God is in everything, after all, to serve others is to serve God. Ishvara resides inside each and every human being we encounter through our day, in the animals with whom we share this planet, and in the natural wonders of trees and water and sky. In offering our time and energy outward, sending good into the world with no expectation of anything in return, we serve and surrender to God.
“…May there be goodness for those who know the earth to be sacred…” -The Mangala Mantra
At the end of every Ashtanga yoga practice, we chant this mantra, asking for goodness and peace for the world and all its creatures. It is a prayer imbued with the powerful theme of God in all things, asking in its closing that “all the worlds be happy. Through this simple offering, the yoga practice itself becomes an act of service, bottling up all of the energy and intention of our time on the mat and surrendering it up for the good of the world. It also establishes a mindset of surrender as we step off the mat and into the day, reminding the practitioner to carry this habit of service out into their interactions with the world.
“Our Mission Statement to share the love of the Ashtanga Yoga practice ultimately boils down to bringing yoga off the mats out into the world to aid in preserving, growing and protecting our planet earth and its inhabitants.” – Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua
Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua believes that to practice yoga, and especially to teach it, one must cultivate a sense of seva. Taking to heart the idea that the earth and all that is in it is sacred, Ashtanga Yoga Nicaragua established a partnership with conservation organization Paso Pacifico. Since 2012, the organizations have been working together to conserve the natural wonders of Ostional. Teacher training participants plant trees, joining in the fight against deforestation and preserving the home of the howler monkeys and the endangered jaguar. They help in the local sea turtle nursery, assisting in the movement to protect and monitor these endangered animals at their most vulnerable. Students have served the community that has welcomed them to live and learn, cleaning the beach and the mangroves and working with local children to instill a respect for the earth in a new generation.
God in All Things
God is in every tree, every jaguar, and every sea turtle. In every human we meet, every child we teach, every animal we aid, we are in relationship with God. Viewing the earth as sacred, we commit to these acts of seva as a means of carrying our yoga practice into our lives, establishing a relationship of service with the God in all things.
Through yoga, we seek God. It is in seva that we begin to find it.