Understanding Karma vs. Karma Yoga

Our modern day understanding of Karma cracks me up.


It’s kind of threatening… you better be good or else something bad will happen to you.

Sometimes that works in keeping people in line. Sometimes it’s a way to cope with being betrayed or treated badly by someone else.

Sometimes it provides comfort knowing that someone who hurt others will eventually get hurt…


But that is a bad attitude… and our attitudes affect our own karma.

Think about it… according to Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Physics, he says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So every energy set into motion will have two opposing forces. The energy we create and the resistance to it.

So every energy we set into motion can happen unconsciously or with conscious awareness. In comes Karma Yoga.

Karma Yoga is the process of becoming conscious and aware of the energies you set into motion. It’s constructively responding to life around you and not reacting to it. It’s about taking ownership of your life. When consciously creating actions, there are four factors that influence the energies we set into motion:

  • Intention

  • Attitude

  • Awareness

  • Impact

If our intentions are based on revenge, we will only get hurt. If our attitude is about revenge, we have forgotten about compassion and kindness. Often we blame and judge others without remembering or being aware of the thoughts and words that come out of our own mouths. Sometimes we fail to examine the potential impacts our thoughts, words and attitudes have on others.

The practice of Karma Yoga therefore teaches us to focus on these four elements without worrying about the reactions or opposing forces. If we focus on the results of actions or other people’s reactions, we therefore live life by others’ standards and expectations instead of our very own.

Karma Yoga teaches us to focus on what benefits ourselves and others… without causing harm or hurt to anyone. This is not the same as people pleasing, because again, your life becomes about how other people regard you.

The best way to practice Karma Yoga is to do something beyond yourself without any expectation of reward… without a thanks… without acknowledgement. Just for the benefit of doing something that we are happy to do. it’s a great way to look at our intentions, attitudes, awareness and impacts.