Keep Politics Out of Yoga
This week we welcomed many meaningful events, some momentous and some small but all important and necessary to help us create the world we truly want to live in. Justice was finally seen, vaccinations are continuing to rise, and Earth Day arrived. I am not an overtly political person. I’m uncomfortable at marches and do not argue online or preach on street corners but I do support and encourage honest and respectful communication. I stand with compassion against oppression and injustices in my everyday actions and interactions with humankind. I challenge misconceptions with science, and in this realm facts and data rule, I try to become aware of my own ignorance in terms of race and inclusion, and I support environmental and social equity.
* Credits for photos 1,3,6 to James Eades, Clay Banks, and Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
Why am I sharing this? Isn’t this a yoga blog? I’m sharing this because yoga is life and life is overflowing with opportunities right now to practice both Satya “truthfulness” and Ahimsa “nonviolence” not just on our mats, not just with ourselves, but out in the world. Satya urges us to communicate honestly in word and deed and Ahimsa urges us to be compassionate in word and deed. These two Yamas are a wonderful support to look at and engage with racism, misconceptions and misinformation, and environmental and social inequity. Using these two supports we can honestly and compassionately act to promote diversity, inclusion and equity in our education, not just school but where we consume our news and media, and interactions with our communities both human and of the earth. Do our actions support our truths? Are our actions compassionate?
Yoga is a philosophy and an opportunity to work in our body (our physical support structure) so we can better access our mind (our mental support structure), and so, I respectfully decline to keep politics out of yoga because yoga is my platform for talking about and practicing truth and compassion. Yoga is how I live my life -- with its many bumps and sharp turns -- it’s politics, it’s attitudes, it’s *gasp* interacting with other people and their politics and attitudes, and it helps me live in our world as a better person. Yoga helps me recognize my triggers and create better paths to overcoming them, it keeps me open in the world so I can see and understand and make good choices, it gives me the courage to stand in my beliefs and against misinformation and injustices.
As fellow practitioners I encourage you to look for opportunities to practice your truth with compassion. Be willing to be wrong and to be challenged. Be willing to challenge others with honesty and compassion. We are sharing and learning together through this beautiful practice of yoga, breaking cycles of racism and injustice, working to build environmental and social equity, moving to restore peace and the health of our earth and its inhabitants. In so doing we will restore ourselves and our home.