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Karma Yoga: How it works!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 349 views

Yoga without physical exercises and breathing techniques: Karma Yoga is a philosophical-psychological teaching. Her orientation: Yogis should find more satisfaction in their lives through selfless action. Mother Teresa is one of the best known representatives. Read here how Karma Yoga works and what effect it has.

What is Karma Yoga?

Karma Yoga is also known as the Yoga of Action. It is one of the four traditional paths of yoga – along with Raja Yoga , Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. The millennia-old teaching from India is still relatively unknown in the West. Karma Yoga is based on one of the most important sacred scriptures from India, the Bhagavadgita.

As Karin Jundt writes in her book Karma Yoga, the spiritual concept of karma includes the totality of all our actions, words and thoughts – both good and bad. The principle of cause and effect prevails. This means that every action we take will inevitably have a consequence. Therefore, in order to attain absolute salvation, we must act without acting. In concrete terms, this means that we should always act without expecting anything in return and without achieving certain events. According to Karin Jundt, it is about doing what we perceive to be right and what needs to be done at every moment – forward-looking and prudent, assuming a benevolent attitude on the part of our fellow human beings.

Karma Yoga sees fate as an opportunity to constantly evolve. In the Bhagavadgita it is repeatedly stated that a person should not rest on his laurels but should always do his best – with heart and commitment.

This is how karma yoga works

Karma Yoga is a departure from selfishness, envy, self-abandonment and jealousy. Rather, basic trust, self- love and equanimity are the three pillars of Karma Yoga.

basic trust

In order for our actions to be able to detach from a goal, basic trust is important. It is comparable to what we also call optimism or a positive attitude in everyday life. The difference: basic trust is not about good or bad. Rather, everything should be as it is.

According to Karin Jundt, basic trust is based on the belief that life has a higher meaning. The assumption: This higher power guides our fortunes at least to a certain extent and gives each person what they need and what is good for them. People with basic trust can usually accept setbacks and serious illnesses without complaints or quarrels.

This pillar is also an important quality to rid oneself of fear and anxiety. Because our actions are shaped by the fact that we are afraid of the unknown and also of not being loved. However, these fears are often unconscious. Among other things, they show up in the fact that we shy away from change and remain in unpleasant situations. In order to strengthen basic trust, it is good to be aware of these two views:

1) I always get what I need and what is good for me According to Karin Jundt, it helps to keep reminding yourself, even in difficult periods of life: everyone gets situations that promote their inner development.

2) Nothing can happen to me that is not good for me. It also strengthens basic trust to say to oneself: Everything that happens to me has the sole purpose of teaching me something and giving me new insights.

The following ways of thinking can strengthen basic trust in different situations:

  • When difficult situations arise in everyday life, the following attitude is beneficial: Acceptance. It makes crises more bearable when we say to ourselves: I did everything I could and trust that it is the right thing to do.
  • If a positive event occurs, gratitude is important and the question: What can I learn from it?
  • When starting something new, the yogi can say to himself: No matter how it turns out, I can gain new insights that will help me advance my experience.
  • When desires come upon you, it helps to put them into perspective and not give them too much importance. We can ask ourselves: is it really important to achieve this goal?
  • Supportive techniques are meditations and affirmations for basic trust such as “I know that I will get everything that is good for me” or “Everything I need will be given to me”.

self-esteem and self-love

Another important pillar in Karma Yoga is self-esteem. The fear of not being loved is particularly powerful for many people. The basis for this is a lack of self-love, which is due to low self-esteem. Affected people are often convinced that they are not valuable as human beings. A feeling that is usually independent of appearance, character , possessions and other externals.

Whether we love each other or not is not directly measurable. Rather, it shows up hidden in our needs. Above all, this includes the extent to which a person craves to be loved by others and how important it is to him to receive their appreciation. If self-love is low, the person affected quickly adapts to their fellow human beings – and is exposed to their arbitrariness. The danger of becoming unfaithful to oneself, exceeding one’s own limits and disregarding one’s own needs is then particularly pronounced.

Loving yourself means: I accept myself as I am – even with the negative qualities. If you want to get rid of unpleasant behavioral patterns, you need time and vigilance above all. The most effective way is to examine individual behaviors one at a time and not to want too much at once.

If you want to change your behavior, you also need courage. Because those who set limits also offend, annoy or irritate their fellow human beings. But according to Karin Jundt, this risk is worth it. As a rule, the courageous gets respect in return – this gives them strength and self-confidence.


Equanimity is the third pillar of Karma Yoga. In Buddhism, equanimity is also considered serenity. This quality is more than just accepting situations. Rather, it is about no longer suffering from suffering. However, it is not important to be strong or brave, but to be above it in such a way that it actually does not hurt and is not uncomfortable.

The prerequisite for this is to unevaluate things in the categories “good” and “bad”. Equanimity means accepting everything neutrally, making no distinction between desirable and undesirable. This is especially true in everyday situations. By no longer evaluating things, but accepting them, we find a way to satisfaction more easily.

Karma Yoga Exercises

Since Karma Yoga is supposed to lead to a new attitude in the mind, it doesn’t need a yoga mat or other aids, but food for thought. We have tips on how to practice Karma Yoga in everyday life.

  1. Reflection: In order to change something in everyday life, it is important to reflect on what is good for you and in which areas you could think a little more of others. Creating awareness for one’s own actions is therefore the basis for Karma Yoga.
  2. Willingness to help: Doing something good does not always have to involve a lot of effort. The gesture counts. Sometimes it is enough to support a colleague at work or to listen to a friend.
  3. Social commitment: Even if it is not possible to change the world alone. You can create your own little microcosm and help others. For example, by reading to seniors, getting involved in climate protection or doing something with children.

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