— Ali reports on: ‘Free Yoga, ‘koha’ classes, karma yoga, and dāna’
Dāna is the name given to any affordable charitable act in South-east Asian traditions. The act of generosity, such as giving food, or providing monetary support to a worthy cause, is considered to be a noble practice, and is one of the ‘six perfections’ (pāramitās).
Likewise, karma yoga (selfless service), performed without any expectation of something in return, is believed to positively influence a person’s character and life purpose.
Here in Aotearoa, the term ‘koha’ functions a similar way to dāna. Koha traditionally means a “gift, present, offering, donation, or contribution,” customarily given by visitors to marae leaders. A ‘koha’ helps support and enrich indigenous communities.
However, recently in New Zealand’s Yoga communities, ‘koha’ classes have become an opportunity for students to get yoga classes for cheap or free. This free-riding not only corrupts the integrity of NZ Yoga, it also undermines the value of hard-working teachers.
Unfortunately, because modern Yoga practices have been subject to cultural sanitization, secularization and globalization, many students have developed a “I’ll take whatever I can” attitude, without thinking about the real costs to the Yoga community.
Many Yoga teachers in Wellington are expected to contribute free classes, extra time, and value-added services with little flowing back outside the basic cost of class fees.
Likewise, our successful ‘Abundant Sunday’ initiatives earlier in the year showed that generosity can become an important part of a Yoga community. Community generosity means that everyone benefits. Today, a number of students at Sadhana Yoga bring in essential oils, fresh food, and offerings so that everyone can share.
Giving back to your Yoga community by offering koha or dāna’is not just part of our Yoga Challenge, or limited to the generous few of Sadhana Yoga Miramar, it is also an enriching part of our Yoga community as a whole.
As Swami Sivanananda says:
Karma Yoga is a great leveller. It removes all illusory distinctions and differences. It leads to unity and to a feeling of oneness. It removes idleness and inertia. It gives you good health.
Let’s make 2015 the Year of Giving Generously!