20 Dec Yoga Is Political
Why yoga and politics are intertwined.
In the new direction I’m taking in my writing I decided to research what is out there when it comes to yoga and politics. Overall opinion seems torn on whether the two should mix. I find that interesting but also revealing. Yoga is about exploration of the self, and moving toward clarity of thought to act in a more positive way in order to elevate, or enlighten, ourselves and the world.
Because of this it is my belief that a full practice of yoga means engaging in politics, which is just another way to say be involved in society.
One of the base ideas in yoga is non-violence or non-harming (ahimsa), but that does not mean non-conflict. Arguments I hear against the mixture of yoga and politics often refer to this concept of non-violence, but don’t seem to understand the difference between violence and conflict. Quite often conflict is necessary to create a world that is less violent.
In growing as a person we must often come into conflict with ways we think and act that we realize are detrimental. This conflict can be challenging, and is similar to conflicts we may find ourselves in when engaging in or society.
We must be careful though not to use this idea that conflict is not necessarily the same as violence as an excuse to be violent. In order to keep from doing this there must always be self-reflection and an objective look at our actions and their effects. Self-reflection is possible by being detached to our ideas of how things should be, or our personal politics. This idea of detachment is called vairagya in yoga.
So can we have political ideas/opinions and be a yogi? Of course. The key is not to get so caught up in what we believe that we begin to think of people on the “other side” as dumb, stupid, socialist, communist, and so on. Basically try and be grown up and not revert to name calling like we’re still in high school.
This is difficult to do, especially when we see decisions made based on lies and deceit. Meditation is the main tool for creating this distance between us and our opinions so we can reflect and tell if claims are true or false.
It’s easy to be deceived when we want something to be true. When we want something to be true it’s easy to claim things as fact that are not facts. We end up crowding out information that is provable and observable because our conclusion is held firmly out of our attachment to it.
We all are attached to certain ideals or principles, and principles are the basis of politics.
-the assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society
This definition of politics is the one I think is most appropriate. And since yoga is concerned with principles, namely proper ways of thinking and acting if we hope to elevate our actions and therefore our life, yoga is inherently political.