The word ‘Karma’ means action. So, Karma Yoga is the ‘Path of Action’. The practice of Karma Yoga means performing duties with detachment from the outcomes and results. As Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says, “Do your duty without the concern to the fruit of it”. 

The Four Principles of Karma Yoga Duty.

Practicing Karma yoga also involves fully accepting one’s dharma (duty in life) to let go of selfish desires.

To Karma yogis, a selfless action is a form of prayer and connection with the Divine. Some teachings even suggest mantra chanting whilst engaging in Karma yoga, to purify the mind and develop a selfless mindset. 

Everybody has duties in life. Some duties are given to you, you don’t have a choice, for example, your duty as a citizen, as a member of society, as a son/daughter, as a brother/sister, etc. Other duties you choose yourself, for example, your duty as an employer, as a husband/wife, as a friend, etc.

In Karma Yoga it is important to prioritize your duties; to know what is most important and which duty you should give more importance over others.

It is important to realize that the highest duty you can have is the duty towards yourself. This means that you should first take care of yourself, do what is good for you, and then only you can do what is good for others. For example, let’s say you are ill and lying in bed. You should rest so you get better soon but late at night, you get a call from a friend saying he feels lonely and he wants your company. Even though it is your duty as a friend to support your friend who needs company, at that time it is more important to take care of yourself and to get better before you can help your friend.

It is also important to fulfill your duty at your best. For example, if you are given a room to clean, you don’t clean it very well because no one is watching or you think what you get paid for it is very less. Another example can be when your employer asks you to do something at work you have 2 options: you can do what he asks, nothing more, nothing less. You could have done it better and more detailed but because your working day was almost over you quickly finished the work and went home.


Ego is all the ideas you have about yourselves or others. It includes our likes, dislikes, desires, etc. With every action we do we tend to think about the consequences for ourselves; how does it affect ourselves, our image, etc? Karma Yoga is all about doing your duty without thinking about yourself. The main purpose of Karma Yoga is to control and eventually let go of your ego.

It is essential that in the practice of Karma yoga, you do not involve your ego because only then you can do it without attachment and desire. Sometimes a person thinks he needs some ego to perform better and grow. But ego is like cancer which always keeps growing. It makes us see what we want to see and stops us from seeing reality. It controls our perception and understanding.


Practicing Karma Yoga means doing your duty without attachment. Whether you like your duty or not, you still do your best. You do your duty without any attachment for example if you are a teacher you don’t teach one student better than others because you like him more. You always perform your duty without any kind of attachment to the process or result.

Expectation of reward

When we do something we rarely do it without expecting something back. For example, at the office, we do our work because we get a salary at the end of the month or for praise or a position. We take care of our partner or child, but we expect love and appreciation in return. When you do something without the expectation of reward, the outcome of your action doesn’t affect if and how you do your duty. You do it because it is your duty, not because you get something out of it.

How to Practice Karma Yoga

Every one of us can practice Karma yoga. To practice karma yoga in your daily life follow these simple steps;

Make a list of all duties/roles you have in your life. There might be some roles in it which you don’t like to fulfill but you must think and write all the roles you have.

Prioritize them as per their importance. Understand the importance of your role in them.

Start to fulfill them daily.

There will be some duties or roles which you cannot fulfill because of reasons beyond your control. Do the duties as you must, not as you would like to do them.

Benefits of Karma Yoga

Karma yoga has many benefits. Some of these can be seen immediately but some can only be realized after some time of regular practice.

The main benefit is that it helps to decrease ego. When you practice Karma Yoga you do your duty without ego. You do what is supposed to be done, not what you would like to do. When you stop involving your ego in your daily activities, slowly your age begins to diminish.

Your priorities become clear. You start to understand your roles and duties. You complete them without attachment and personal desire.

Because you do your duties without ego and attachment, you balance your karma without making new karma.

Principles of Karma Yoga  

1) Right attitude 

As per the first principle, the nature of work is not important but the attitude while carrying out the duty certainly holds weightage. Irrespective of the type of work, one should complete the task with utmost sincerity, efforts and give their 100%.  

2) Focus on action, not on motive 

Karma Yoga emphasizes on focusing on the action and not on the motive. If one performs an action with the motive of gaining benefit out of it, then one is forming an attachment to the result.  

Attachments come from our desires and these desires stem from ego. Hence, to practice Karma Yoga, one has to let go of the sense of ‘I’ or the ego to develop complete detachment from the outcome of the action.  

3) Do your duty/dharma 

Every person who has taken birth and is alive on this earth has dharma or duties to fulfil in this life. Some duties come with our births like that of child, sibling, citizen and some we choose on our own like friend, employee, partner and parent.  

One cannot and should not overlook their duties and nor get away from them. One is not meant to live a selfish and irresponsible life. Through this birth, one is being given an opportunity to be helpful to others and experience joy, peace and happiness. Also most importantly, one must carry out his/her duties with awareness, enthusiasm and devotion.  

half-heartedness and attitude is not right, suggests the Karma Yoga principle.  

The practice of Karma Yoga means performing each task with 100% dedication and commitment and without worrying about the result. Sometimes, people do not take a task with the fear of extra efforts, time or hard work and sometimes owing to fear of negative feedback.  

According to Karma Yoga, one should always give their best in all their tasks and leave the rest.


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