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How Yoga Finally Got Me To Donate Blood



“Just a little poke, then you can relax.” Sure. I’ll chant Ohm and smile as copious bags of blood drain out of the miniscule vein on my left arm. “You won’t feel a thing.” Really? Guess the tense ache in my arm was just my imagination. “It won’t take long at all.” Ten and a half minutes, actually. To my Red Cross attendant, that’s no time at all. To me? I’d trade ten and a half minutes holding plank pose, atop a bed of hot coals, over this little exercise.

But you know what? So what. I donated blood. And the poke, the aching, the subsequent bruise, stars in eyes upon sitting up, were, quite frankly, no big f***ing deal when I consider what I just did. I donated blood. Which means someone gets to live a little longer. And in the sometimes cruel and unexpected nature of life, that someone could have been me. I have had my share of crazy accidents. Three on a road bike that landed me in the ER. Mercifully, I didn’t need any extra blood. But if I had…

Tragedies Do Happen

And if everyone took my pre-yoga attitude – ouch, I don’t have time, I hate needles, I don’t like looking at my own blood, I don’t like feeling lightheaded – then a heckuva lotta people would die unnecessarily.

Karma Yoga is about selfless service. And lying on that donation table, needle in my arm, far away from the comfort of my mat and candlelit studio, I realized I was very much in the heart of my yoga practice, surrounded by other yogis giving selflessly to save lives. Yogis who may or may not ever do a Downward Facing Dog, but Karma yogis they are. The more I practice and teach yoga, the more I realize I am connected to everyone. Even those I don’t know. Yoga has helped me realize that it is not just what I do, but what I don’t do, that has an impact on humanity and peace. And for years, I simply did not give blood for the selfish reasons noted above.

Add A Little Karma

There are countless ways beyond donating blood to work a little Karma into your practice. Something as simple as helping your elderly neighbor with a home project. Or volunteering at an animal shelter. Perhaps the stressed out new student in the back of class could use a friendly smile, handshake, and “Hi, my name is _____,” from you before class starts. Pay attention, look around, and see who needs your helping hand. Pick something and take your practice off the mat. And if donating blood is part of your Karma plan, rest assured the reward is sweet. A saved life, and a cute little sticker telling the world “I made a difference today.” Because you did.


Shannon Brady

Shannon Brady

Shannon Brady is a certified power vinyasa yoga teacher in Greater Philadelphia


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