What Is Yoga Service?

yoga service: the intentional sharing of yoga practices (e.g., movement, breathwork, meditation, relaxation) that support healing and build resilience for all, regardless of circumstances, taught within a context of conscious relationship, and supported by regular reflection and self-inquiry

While yoga and service have long been practiced together, yoga service as a unified field is new and growing. Yoga service is not defined by who is served, but rather by the manner in which the practices are offered. Although the intention of each teacher or program might be slightly different, they’re unified in offering yoga practices to support the empowerment and well-being of the individuals or communities with whom they are being shared.

Yoga service may address specific populations (veterans, women in prison, at-risk youth, etc.), but a core understanding of the yoga service community is that everyone may experience vulnerability and trauma at different points in life, and we all, at times, are in need of the compassionate service of others. There are also social forces that impact individuals and communities differently, and therefore issues of power, privilege, and justice must remain at the forefront of any critical discussion of service. 

A core component of yoga service is the intention with which the teachings are offered. Sharing yoga takes place within the context of relationship, and yoga service calls on us to acknowledge the many nuances of the human experience, educate ourselves about social justice issues, and listen openly and with curiosity to each other’s perspectives. A commitment to conscious relationship requires a commitment to self-reflection and self-inquiry, as we train to better understand our own perspective and the perspectives of our students.

Those who offer yoga service have a strong commitment to conscious relationship and are dedicated to integrating ongoing practices of self-inquiry and reflection.  

(Adapted from founding members of the Yoga Service Council, Jennifer Cohen Harper and Traci Childress, as interviewed by Rob Schware)