Yoga is the realization of our essential oneness with all humanity. Does this then mean that every yogi has to be empathetic to the concerns of all fellow humans? Given the scale of problems around us, how can a yogini worry about her own self-realization?
There are many paths to Yoga. One path of yoga is the study of scriptures and philosophical texts. This path is known as Jnana Yoga and the hope is that by study and logic, consciousness can be trained to realize its true nature.
There is also a path to yoga that requires utter devotion and surrender to the Divine. This path is known as Bhakti Yoga. Here the hope is that by the total surrender to a higher power, our ego will dissolve and consciousness will become firmly established in our higher Self.
We also have a path of Yoga that is known as Raja Yoga. This is the path that was formally expressed by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. This is the path of meditation. It combines some elements of the other two paths, because Svadhaya (study) and Ishvarapranidhana (Surrender to God) are part of this path.
But nowhere in the Yoga Sutras is there any mention of empathy. The path of meditation, the path of study, or the path of devotion, are all intense practices that have to be done for inner transformation that moves us away from the way we express our consciousness.
If we make sufficient progress along these paths, at some stage of our journey we should find an overwhelming flowering of love and compassion for all. This is the natural result of the slow dissolution of our ego. But here is the problem. None of these paths allow us to diverge from our goal. So we have to move along and not allow our empathy to divert us.
But we also have a choice. And for this there is a fourth path to Yoga. This path is known as Karma Yoga, the path of selfless service. If you have made enough progress along your journey into Yoga you will find that your ego is greatly diminished. At this point you may feel an overwhelming compassion to help, and could then devote your life to selfless service.
So here is the roadmap. All help begins with self-help. So the first step is to pick one of the three paths of Yoga: The path of study, the path of devotion, or a path that combines these two and includes meditation along with it. If you make steady progress then at some point you should feel an overwhelming connection with all. This is the right time for you to make a call. Do you want to soldier on? If so continue along your path. If not you can choose to move in a new direction and adopt the path of a Karma Yogi. A modern example of somebody who went along this route is the saint known as the Peace Pilgrim.
The key to understand is that compassion is the result of Yoga, not a prerequisite, nor is it an obstacle. It will happen on its own. Also when your surrender is complete the path will unfold on its own. Peace Pilgrim had a detailed vision of what she had to do, and she just followed the path that was laid out for her. In some cases your instructions will be to continue along your path without diversion, at other times your calling will be to be of service. Let the Divine Will take you where It wants.