How can I help? Seva Yoga with Aaron Angel

"Our humanity is not an attribute that we have received once and forever with our conception, it is a potentiality that we have to discover within us and progressively develop or destroy through our confrontation with the different experiences of suffering that will meet us through our life."

- Xavier Le Pichon

What is it?

Seva Yoga is the practice of serving others as a way of self healing and growth. “Seva” means “selfless service” in Sanskrit, or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment. In ancient India seva was believed to help one's spiritual growth and at the same time contribute to the improvement of a community.

Who is this for?

Seva Yoga of the Abhaya Yoga Foundation is for anyone who wants to help the people in our community who are “marginalized” in a way that is mindful and open-hearted. Who will be a good fit?

  • Current volunteers
  • People in service professions (eg teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers, social workers, therapists)
  • Yoga teachers/students
  • Retired folks

Why?

This program aims to teach people how to stay present and open to being of service in the midst of suffering. Not only will it have a profound impact on participants and the people in their lives, but will be adding great presence where it is needed most in the overlooked populations of our very own community. Some practical tools participants will learn:

  • Practices to awaken compassion
  • How to relate better to the people you serve (and all relationships)
  • How to listen better
  • How to offer help from a place of truth
  • How to avoid burnout

The Course

The Seva Yoga program is a 10 week course based on the book How Can I Help? By Ram Dass and Paul Gorman.

How Can I Help? is a practical guide on how to awaken to our natural state of compassion through selfless service.  The book offers a lense on service that stresses our inherent connection to one another. “If one of our arms gets caught in a door, naturally we use the other of our arms to set it free. Helping happens not because it's been weighed and considered; it happens because the barriers to its lawful and automatic expression have fallen away.” (pg 50).

The book also teaches us how important it is to witness and observe our tendencies/conditioned reactions to pain and suffering.  Through mindfulness and heartfulness, we can slowly grow into an environment for healing and compassion and learn how to integrate the parts of ourselves that we normally avoid confronting.

The course consists of:

  • One 90 min class/week
    • 25 minutes gentle/non athletic body awareness yoga
    • 45 minutes on a subject from curriculum (based on text book)
    • 20 minute Q&A on how to apply lessons in field
  • Requirement to Volunteer at least once/week.
    • Practice the theory we learn in class out in the field.
    • We have made alliances with a couple of service organizations to place people
      • Bread and Life (Soup kitchens)
      • Reading Partners (Teaching children literacy)
      • If participant is in a service profession and doesn’t have time to volunteer, check with Aaron
      • Participants welcome to volunteer anywhere they wish to as well
  • Cost to participant = $1 donation (or more)
    • Donations can be made out to the Abhaya Yoga Foundation (tax deductible)

When/Where?

  • Tuesday nights 6:30-8:00pm 9/13/16-11/15/16.
  • Movement Improvement, 35 Remsen St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Instructor

Aaron has been a practitioner of seva yoga for 15+ years and currently volunteers with hospice patients through MJHS and teaches yoga in the in-patient Psychiatric unit at Lutheran Medical Center every week. Aaron has had the privilege to volunteer at Sloan Kettering working with pediatric cancer patients, to teach yoga in a juvenile detention center in the Bronx, to work at an independent home for developmentally disabled (Bais Ezra), and has worked with many more populations over the years. “Of all the ways of practicing yoga out there, service has been and continues to be one of the most impactful on my life.”