Karma, Skill in Action

3 Karmas – Yoga is skill in action with loving awareness

Karma carries the notion that the fruits of your actions, comes back to you, you can’t escape the consequence of your actions. Karma is often viewed as impersonal and an amoral force. There is no sentient consciousness behind karma; it is simply a natural law of cause and effect. This is why bad stuff happens to ‘good’ people and good stuff happens to ‘bad’ people. It doesn’t possess intentions, desires, or consciousness. It is the quality and intention behind an individual’s actions that influence the karmic consequences.

Conscious beings, are seen as the agents responsible for generating karma through one’s thoughts, words and deeds. The nature of these actions determines the type of karma accrued, what is motivating the choice and its consequences.

Cause and Effect.

Every action has a reaction.

Every choice has a consequence.

The cause behind your current situation is past Karma.

Our Yoga practice is to wake up to the awareness that life is not just happening to you, it is happening for you. And your’e a sum total of all your choices and actions. That your current life is a continuation of the past.

There is a saying that ‘if you don’t like where you are, move! You’re not a tree’. And what I mean by that is practice.

While karma is not conscious, it serves as a moral and ethical framework, guiding individuals to act in ways that promote ‘positive’ or productive consequences and spiritual growth. The idea is that individuals have the power to shape their destinies through their actions and choices, and the karmic consequences reflect the ethical and moral implications of those actions.

3 Types of Karma we will study is:

Prarabdha Karma – Active Karma

Sanchita Karma – Dormant Karma

Kriyamana Karma – Potential Karma

Prarabdha karma refers to the actions or deeds from previous lifetimes that have already started to bear fruit in the current life. These are the karmic consequences that a person is currently experiencing or undergoing. It is often considered as the destiny or fate that one is born with and must face in the present life. Once this karma has begun to manifest, it cannot be changed; it must be experienced and exhausted.

To be a good archer, one needs to practice over and over again refining the skill in making bow and arrows, storing them, choosing the right arrow for the job and aiming then releasing them to the target. Your mindset, posture and what is motivating you all has a place in how skilful you take action to shoot your arrow or not. (Have a read of my other blog post on the power of intention) Prarabdha Karma is Active Karma likened to the arrow in the bow, the arrows that are in flight and the arrows that either have missed or hit the target. Some of these arrows were release in previous life times as it is the Karma you need to resolve in this lifetime, some of these arrows are of those of your families Karma and most are of all the choices you have taken. Some of these arrows miss their target and it is our job to rectify and make amends of the fallout to our poor aim. Some hit the target and fulfils that life affirming purpose.

Sanchita karma is the accumulated karma from past actions that are yet to bearing fruit or have manifested. Unlike prarabdha karma, sanchita karma is dormant and has not yet started influencing the individual’s current life. It represents the total karmic account or the sum of all actions from past lives that have not been resolved. It is believed that an individual’s present actions contribute to their sanchita karma, either adding to it or mitigating its effects.

This is represented by the different arrows stored in our quiver of the many different ages in which we have learned how to react or respond to life. For example: If you get triggered by a partner, family member or colleague, you have a predictable and established way you will react. Either you pull out of the quiver and arrow formed at 6 year old and throw a tantrum. Or a 16 year old arrow and sulk, feel self-piteous and go to bed, turning into a duvet. Or 21 year old and go to the pub, get bladdered and send drunk emails to everyone having a moan. Or your current age (with maturity and YEARS of Yogic practice) you breathe, (maybe have a little cry), speak to someone trusted to reason it out and respond in a productive and healthy way that is for the good of all involved. We can apply this to the small things and big things. How conscious are you when you react to things in life? 

There is a saying the 1st 35 years we create our habits and the last 35 years our habits make us.

We habitually react as we consistently grab the same arrow when we are emotionally triggered, stress and threatened. It takes a lot of HEAT (Tapas) to wakefully change which arrow we choose. Think about how you immediately react to a bad traffic move. React to someone cancelling last minute. React to unexpected bad news. React to your most triggering family member. React to an asana you don’t like, can’t do well or that opens memories you find hard to manage. You know your predictable arrow you choose. 

What would it be like to slow down, pause, breathe and consciously choose wisely then respond from a calm space informed by what really matters to you and what would be the best for all involved. What is important? What is most essential? What is useful? Does this bring me closer to what my heart desires or farther away? 

Kriyamana karma, also known as agami karma, is the karma that is currently being created through present actions. It is the potential karma resulting from the choices and deeds performed in the current lifetime. The consequences of kriyamana karma will be experienced in the future, either in this life or in subsequent lives. This type of karma emphasise the idea that individuals have the power to shape their future destiny through their present actions.

Kriyamana Karma is potential Karma that we make. The arrow heads, feathers and sticks we have to assemble the arrows to store in our quiver all to depend on the quality of our mind and presence in the moment of forming those actions. This is why it is important that we practice on and off our mat. We study Yogic Philosophy and apply it to our practice and our life. 

The sutras state we can achieve this by developing Viveka – keen discernment, wise judgements, clear perception. Then through discipline and practice Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.16

  • Abhyasa – focused diligent practice, devoted and disciplined in the pursuit of practice
  • Vairagya – detachment with love from what arises in the field of sensory perception, its an indifference to sensory awareness, neutralise it by saying “interesting” 

Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness. We can use the suggestion of applying Kriya Yoga (Sutras 2.1-2.9)

  • Tapas – heat for positive change (physical practice), 
  • Svadhyaya – self study (mental practice), 
  • Ishvara Pranidhana – surrendering to the god head of your understanding (the self)

Which aims to neutralise the causes of sorrow that are rooted in self-ignorance and lead you to self-realisation and a more skilful life!

There are 5 essential ingredients to be the Archer – Yogi 

1. Shraddha – Faith Trust a direct connection to Source

2. Virya – Courage, Quiet Confidence, Self-Belief, Willpower, Stamina

3. Smirti – Keen Memory to recall what is most important and everything that you have learned

4. Samadhi – Fully Absorb in it all, physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual

5. Prajna – Light of intelligence, unfailing discernment as you have direct access to innate wisdom

Shraddha – Faith. Trusted belief that the Universe has your back no matter what. Shrad literally means, that which gives you space and holds you in place. Dha provides nourishment for you to grow. It opens you to a larger perspective, if you think about it, the more space and self-nurturance you have to fill that space, the more support you have to grow and expand in life. It also fills the space so you see there is nothing missing in your life, it is as it needs to be for you to evolve. Connecting to a trusting conviction in this presence, wholehearted respect in your relationship to the faith you align to.

Virya  – Courage, Strength, Energy, Effort, Willpower, Stamina to persevere through life’s obstacles. That whatever you put your mind to, you will be able to achieve through your endurance, inner strength and conviction to bravely face whatever you face.

Smirti – That which is remembered, To strengthen your memory to remember how to practice, the said techniques, retentive power of vital information in order to move more effectively forward in life, the power to collect and recall vital information, especially when you are upset or facing hard times that you can ultimately remember what you are, what matters to you most and your life’s greater purpose.

Samadhi – Absorption, Becoming completely aware of what you are paying attention to, spending time in conscious repose, resting in the grounded-ness of being, all-consuming focus, ability to be absorbed in one’s goal. It is the ability to have physical, energetic, mental and spiritual absorption in any given moment.  

Prajna – Illumination of Consciousness, Light of intelligence, Buddhi is the intuitive guide or teacher, Prajna is the light of intelligence that shines through that guide. Guided by the inner light of the heart-mind, that innate wisdom, letting the light of the soul reflect in it without distortion. There is clear understanding, crystal-clear intellect, which reveals the knowledge within you as you.

Practice requires us to cultivate the five virtues: conviction, inner strength, retentive power, an all-consuming focus, and clear understanding as these five virtues help us persist in our quest when obstacles (Yoga Sutra 1.30) such as disease, fatigue, doubt, carelessness, discontentment, laziness, lust, misunderstanding, instability and frustrations tempt us to quit. This is a call to take ACTION, we do something. By living ethically, practicing Yoga and meditation and developing the knowledge of of oneself and listen to the innate wisdom within, we can shape our journey in this life time to find lasting fulfilment, deeper contentment and freedom from the karmic suffering that arrises. Though remembering that freedom from suffering is a daily remission contingent upon our devotion to cultivate Awareness, Radical Acceptance and Wise Action! 

Go out and be that skilful Archer!

May we continue to be kind in thought, words and actions.

Big LOVE, Zephyr

Classes with similar themes:

3 Karmas – Yoga is skill in action with loving awareness

The Eightfold Path – Wise Action

Yoga for the Adhikara

The 3 Ways of Stillness – Nirodha

8 Limbs of Yoga

Purusarthas – 4 Desires

Buddhism & Yoga

Loving Kindness Practices


7 Stages of Yoga

Working with Obstacles

Map of the Mind (Current Classes)

Published on December 12, 2023