Dharma Bava

Dharma Bhava – Duty towards self

Exploring the concept of dharma bhava in yoga philosophy. By Archana Kanade

My journey: from a high-powered corporate lifestyle, P&L reviews, networking events, late nights, airport lounges, bars and champagnes, to a 185x68cm yoga mat, 6-to-6 workday, squeezing in personal practice and study, researching ailments, empathising with each student’s individual struggles, own emotional & physical challenges, insecurities, self-doubt, while hanging onto the moral and ethical teachings of this path.

Easy? Hell no!

And that's why the concept of ‘Dharma’ bhava in yoga philosophy is so special to me. ‘Dhar-ma’ literally translates to ‘that which holds me together’.

‘Dharma’ is defined & used in various references in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism etc:

  • Right action/duty
  • Individual's conduct, virtues, ‘right way of living’
  • Path of righteousness
  • It's even used to define a sect or religion

But it's a tricky topic. It’s impossible for one person to tell another what it should be. What is right for you might not be right for me.

In Vipassana (a form of mediation taught originally by the Buddha), I learnt the most relatable one – ‘the universal law of nature’. E.g. fire’s dharma is to burn, and ice's, to cool.

Similarly, each person has their own Dharma. It could be different during each life phase, to study, raise family, follow a spiritual path. It could also be more than one at any point – a family man could also be an activist.

Yoga in fact outlines a hierarchy of Dharma Bhava (duties); first towards self, then family and friends, then place of work and finally society, humanity in general. Our highest Dharma is towards ourselves to be in a balanced state of body and mind.

Now, do I at times complain of physical/mental exhaustion? Oh the midweek bedtime fuss! Do I have to keep myself in check to not turn this into another passion-run job? Oh yes!

Do I feel happy & at peace with myself on this path? A wholehearted yes!

So here's urging you to follow a simple life lesson as your first Dharma: ‘wear your own oxygen mask before assisting others'. Just like the flight safety instructions!

And secondly, know that when you feel at peace with what you are doing, you are following your Dharma.

Archana Kanade

Namaste, I am Archana - a certified Yoga teacher, Ayurveda Practitioner & a mind-body wellbeing advocate.

Having learnt traditional Yoga from schools in Mumbai & Mysore (India) - I follow the traditions & wisdom where:
(a) alignment & technique are most crucial for a safe & strong physical practice
(b) Yoga should be practiced in harmony of the body, breath & mind &
(c) True Yoga Happens Beyond The Mat!

My aim is to help people find balance & feel great, both in body and mind.