Karma Yoga

As a yogi I hate getting upset. I try my best to breathe through each situation and make the most of what I have in front of me. But there are days when I experience each of these 6 things!! In fact, there are many days that involve many of those things… but in moderation as always.

This week I’m trying to reign it all in and be calm, but I have to take a moment to grind my gears.

As many of you know, I run a non-profit organization Journey to Hope Yoga Inc. We are a 501c3 non-profit that provides yoga to the community. We give free (karma) yoga to those who cannot afford it or do not have access and are in a number of shelters, a library and throughout the community. Overall it is a wonderful experience and one of the things I am most proud of myself for accomplishing. It took over a year to be granted our 501c3 status and each drip of blood, sweat and tears was worth it. I love the work we do, the people we meet and what we represent.

But today I am angry.

Prior to going back to work full-time, I taught many of the Journey to Hope classes. Part of the reason is because I love what we do, but the other part (to be 100% honest) is because no one wants to work for you for free. It takes time to not only teach an hour long yoga class, but time to prepare the class and drive there which costs you gas, time and effort. I understand it is difficult to be expected to work for free and for nothing other than the satisfaction of helping others – trust me I really do understand. But the past year has been even more difficult than our first year running as an organization. People make a commitment to the organization, getting excited about volunteering and having something wonderful not only on their resumes but in their hearts. They have something to support, an organization to be one with and people to serve – what could be better?

But suddenly, there is a private client to attend to which would make you money. Or your best friend wants to go to the beach and she’s only in town for a few days. Perhaps you’ve taken on too much and this commitment is unpaid. So you leave.

Leaving a non-profit organization is understandable. We have things to do, money to make and commitments to attend to. What makes my heart hurt today is the people who promise and then leave, the people who realize how long 6 months really means in terms of a commitment and then panic before committing and the people who up and leave without telling me.

As a director of Journey to Hope, I have seen it all. I’ve had a volunteer leave and not tell me until a month afterwards (leaving one of our organizations without a teacher for 4 months in the process of finding a new teacher). I’ve had others who get really excited, promise the world and then bail out last minute and I’ve had much worse than a combination of the two.

I get it. We are busy, we want to make money and we want to serve at the same time. But what happened to commitment? What happened to karma yoga in the first place?

As teachers, we want so desperately to give our hearts and souls to our students. We want to give them spirituality, as well as a tough yoga practice with lots of sweat and tears and we thrive when we are complimented on a job well done (even if we don’t want to admit it). There are days when I believe that this is whole heartedly true and other days when I believe it’s what excites us when we receive a paycheck – to realize that what we did was not only beautiful but profitable.

Today is one of those days where I am experiencing not only angry but extreme sadness. Sadness that as a whole our society cannot commit and anger that I feel so alone in this journey.

After all this ranting, I do know that tomorrow will be better. I have some of the most wonderful, beautiful (inside and out) teachers within Journey to Hope. Women who have committed to the organization for over a year who love each of our students, pride themselves in a continual commitment and each time I ask say they do not want to ever leave.

My AMAZING volunteers
My AMAZING volunteers

As upset as I am in this moment, I understand that those who aren’t yet ready to commit are not a part of this particular journey. I know that they aren’t quite ready yet and perhaps when the time comes, they will come back and want to be a strong and committed member of Journey to Hope. Each person has their own path and there are a multitude of reasons why you cannot commit to an organization for 6 full months. Each person is on their own journey and some have not yet connected and intertwined with mine. I respect and love each path that they are on and know that I need to follow in my own advice and listen to my own wisdom when I have moments of doubt.

I need to follow my personal manta: Isvara Pranidhana … blind faith … the idea that God has a plan that I’m not yet privy to and it will all work out the way it should. I’m open & ready for whatever is coming and am full of HOPE that in this moment, as I release my (far too attached) emotion, that it will all work out the way it should.

Do you have any experience with non-profits and volunteering? How do you handle moments of anger, frustration or sadness? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Get out there – do yoga – give love & make life sparkle,



6 thoughts on “Karma Yoga

    1. Jenny R Post author

      Thank you Jess, I really appreciate it 🙂 I try as hard as I can every day. As I mentioned, it’s just a moment of temporary frustration! It will all work out soon, and I have some of the most amazing and wonderful volunteers — just hoping to add to the list sometime soon!!

  1. Vivian Mandala

    Hi Jenny, I have a great deal of experience with non-profits. From creating my own and dissolving it (I wasn’t able to balance the frustration with the love), to now volunteering.
    It takes a special person to birth a non-profit. You have to be able to take people as they come and be grateful for the small part they can play. I couldn’t. I got all wound up and ended up feeling resentful for the work that people WEREN”T doing, that I ended up angry and bitter. NOT pretty.
    Seth Godin said in Tribes, that sometimes leaders don’t need to lead, sometimes they become followers. So I dissolved my little non-profit and started my own company. I’m a much better follower in non-profits. I help with marketing, newsletters, day of help, spreading the word and internal business practices. I help a lot of non-profits. 

    I’m so grateful to you and to people of your mold that can juggle the stresses of running a non-profit and come out shining. It takes a special person. You are that special person. 🙂

    1. Jenny R Post author

      Wow Vivian, I really appreciate your words. Although I was heartbroken on Monday I feel instantly lifted in knowing that our organization is onto something…. we are getting there and putting one foot in front of the other. I appreciate your honesty and love the Seth Godin words of wisdom as well. I know we are on the right track and will be so excited in a few years when it’s booming.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  2. Nathalie

    Hi Jenny! I totally get that you are frustrated and angry sometimes and I really admire the love and energy you put into your voluntary work. Don’t let this be poisened by people who don’t feel the same passion (yet) as you do. They will get there, too, eventually. And if not – then it just wasn’t meant for them. Whenever you are disappointed by someone – think of all the great people who make your days and your anger will dissolve.

    1. Jenny R Post author

      Thank you Nathalie 🙂 It’s so true….just two days later I feel a whole world lighter! I have an amazing team and we are trying our best every day. There are great people out there who step in to help us out and I am so blessed to be a part of this organization and be surrounded by these amazing people!!! Thank you for the reminders. Jai!!


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