So, you might have caught wind of some kind of election thing going on. If you’re a citizen of the United States of America we hope you will exercise your right to vote because it’s kind of a big deal. And pardon the phrase in light of recent events, but it’s probably going to be a real shitstorm, so get your little yogasana in there and let your voice and your choice be heard!
Some yoga writers would say that’s not good enough. A few have put out the call for yogis to “shelve both idealism and politeness” and “stand up and endorse Obama” to ”weave our politics and practice into a bright braid of passion,” demanding proper progressiveness and tossing criticism at those remaining mum, as well as the most politically vocal yoga organization out there, Off the Mat, for their “political neutrality.” (See OTM at the DNC and RNC).
Matthew Remski, a Canadian writer and yoga teacher, challenges:
So why, I ask, with our sentiments and our privileged economic status and all of us hanging around the studio water cooler after class worried about reversals in health care coverage and women’s rights and environmental hooliganism, is the most visible political arm of yoga culture this toothless display of bendy niceness?
In another article several yoga teachers and bloggers weigh in on the trend of “disassociation,” flaccidity and yoga leadership’s “pervasive apathy and general vagueness.” Some excerpts:
Angela Jamison: “Your vote for president doesn’t matter, except in your head. Political scientists know this; operatives know this. When it comes to the statistics, the only way YOU can effect an electoral outcome is to express your voice beyond the voting booth.”
…“What really matters is that everyone should vote their conscience. If we just mobilize everyone to vote their conscience, democracy will prevail. “ Naiveté in the extreme. Every time you say it, please feel Karl Rove giving you a big, wet kiss on the lips. And have you SEEN Karl Rove lately? He’s been busy deep-throating YogaVotes all season.
Derek Beres: Running away from the world’s problems because you don’t agree with how it’s being run is no way to strengthen your yoga practice. Your practice has to be put to use in the world around you, and this involves working inside of your society. It involves, at the very least, knowing how your society operates and making informed decisions of how to participate.
…Whether or not we agree with current policies, we must engage them. The idea that they detract from our spiritual progress is proof of our not recognizing what spirituality is.
Carol Horton: It’s understandable that many people want to escape today’s disheartening political realities. Consequently, they turn to counter-productive strategies of denial, distraction, scapegoating, and magical thinking. Unfortunately, this is a big social trend—and one that, to a dismaying extent, the North American yoga community has been very much caught up in.
Yet an effective yoga practice can connect us to that inner source of strength, courage, and discernment we need to face what’s happening in our world and deal with it as best we can. And if there was ever a time to practice in a way that engages with the world rather than retreats from it, the time is now.
…Right now, we must focus our energies on getting Obama re-elected. Not only is he the better candidate, but also, more importantly, he leads a party that, despite its enormous problems, provides the most effective barrier we currently have against a rising tide of right-wing reaction, elitist capitalism and unfettered Social Darwinism.
Frank Jude Boccio: But, we got Obama. And now we should do all we can to keep him, because I’m pretty damn certain Romney and Ryan are a bit sociopathic. Yeah, it sucks not to be in the position to vote for someone I’d actually like to see President, one with whom I agree politically (fat chance in America). For all his many weaknesses, Obama is the lesser of two evils by far! And that’s the bottom line.
Roseanne Harvey: My American friends, I hope you vote with your head on November 6, using discrimination and critical thinking, and not with your heart. I hope you vote for Obama, whether it’s because you agree with his policies or because he represents the lesser of two evils. It doesn’t matter.
I’m looking forward to seeing yogis get involved in the political process, before and after this election. This is not the time to be nonpartisan and hide behind talk of “unity.” This is not the time to tell people to listen to their hearts. It is the time to connect practice with politics, to encourage people to wake up and name the truth.
And the all out Romney rant:
Julian Walker: We stand on the precipice of electing a blue-blood, swashbuckling, venture capitalist Mormon who flip-flops on every position he takes, depending on who he is talking to, as the leader of the free world.
…Did I mention he’s a Mormon? Ah yes, we are not supposed to talk about that, because in some paroxysm of political correctness we overcompensated in a way that makes us ironically prey to the very same religious oppression we were trying to prevent. But it matters what people believe about reality! Look up the tenets of the Church of Latter Day Saints and get ready for a president in magic underwear that believes in divine golden plates (found by his prophet who used a magic hat to translate their prophecies) and Jesus coming again in Missouri.
Yea, I know ordinary Christianity is not much less nutty, and you straight up have to claim you believe in that in order to be a decent person worthy of running for president, right?
…Drop the pretense, stop the faux spiritual madness, stop pretending it doesn’t matter and that a metaphysical “shift in consciousness” is the only solution, as if this is somehow distinct from political process, and get your hands dirty disagreeing with some people, taking a stand and making a difference in this crucial moment.
And then we have yogi writer and author Neal Pollack offering his own skepticism on the political yoga union via his Yoga Journal column:
Yoga knows no political party or ideological affiliation. Politics, like everything else on this precious Earth, are temporary. The sutras present a series of philosophical principles, but they are undogmatic, a sketch, general rules for civil conduct, like the Ten Commandments or the editorial page of the Sunday New York Times. Also, they were written thousands of years ago, long before the births of Thomas Jefferson or Willard “Mitt” Romney.
…That’s not to say politics don’t matter, because of course they do. Yoga doesn’t dictate that you become an apolitical idiot. You need to use discernment and intelligence and follow the right political path based on your most deeply-held values. That will make you unique among Americans. Seriously, though, you should vote, though not more than once, and you should realize that your vote matters even if you live in a state that Romney is going to win regardless of what you do. We have to remember that whether we’re Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, or, god forbid, French, we’re all just renting a little physical space here for a short while, and it’s our mission and duty to love and treat one another with kindness.
But if Obama loses, I’m moving to India. That place has no political problems at all.
And in response to an Obama endorsing post on IAYB:
I don’t believe that yoga is implicitly political. I know a lot of yoga practitioners, my father included, who support Romney. They deserve yoga, too, and I don’t think yoga should be tied into left-wing activist agendas, even if I agree with them.
The smack in our faces that was Hurricane Sandy last week may have woken up a few of us to consider reality, whether that’s learning lessons of impermanence, or in the case of NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg, officially endorsing Obama. We generally don’t talk politics here, because frankly, we don’t feel in position to do so, and many other sites and media outlets do it so much better (quick, politicsdork.com is still available!) For our part, this site is intended to inform, to report on news and yoga culture, to initiate and stoke discussion, not to tell you who to vote for, and we think we do a pretty darn good job most of the time.
We could tell you who we’re voting for, but if we really thought you would vote for a candidate based on our leanings and suggestions, we have grossly underestimated the integrity and intelligence of the yoga community, and man are we in for a long haul. (And could you really not make an educated guess?) In truth, we may not all be politicians, but we certainly participate in politics (perhaps even more than we’d like to think) when we vote, pay taxes, watch The Daily Show, boycott big bad corporations, choose organic products at the supermarket, choose our form of transportation, our form of birth control, our sexual partners, etc. If this election has moved you to get on your soapbox and advocate for your candidate and causes, and believe us, we understand how critical this election can be for many now and in the future, then by all means go for it. But don’t do it because someone is telling you to, because, well that just defeats the whole purpose.
In voting, in taking your yoga off the mat, in doing something, just as we would hope you’ve been inclined to help in some way with the recovery and relief efforts of Hurricane Sandy, we simply ask you, don’t let that Taylor Swift heartbreaking scamp John Mayer be right, dont wait on the world to change.
The floor is open. Please share your thoughts.