This article was written for Mindful Studio Magazine and is written towards studio owners but is relevant for teachers and students.
Yoga and Politics
We live in contentious times. Historians say the recent election and its results have polarized the nation to a degree not seen since the Civil War. As yoga studio owners, it may often seem difficult to navigate the political landscape as fear and despair or hope and happiness is gripping the emotional balance of our students. In either case, emotionalism runs high and we have to decide how we can best serve our communities.
In this case, it is recommended that we lean on the teachings of yoga as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Yoga is the ultimate union and unity. Yoga views all beings as divine souls that in our very essence are identical. Yoga is apolitical and does not take sides. Politics, and this means all politics, creates duality. And as soon as duality has been created, yoga ceases to exist.
As studio owners, we cannot afford to take sides in the political debate despite any beliefs that we have personally because we will alienate a portion of our students. It is shortsighted and misguided to assume that everyone believes as we believe, and judgmental and wrong to dismiss anyone that believes differently.
When students visit Ripple Yoga and express anxiety regarding the election, we remind them of the teachings of yoga and that true unity, not so-called political unity, is the answer. The reality is that the further we are away from someone in our argument or beliefs, the closer we are to actually being them.
We also remind students to have compassion for the self and to project that compassion to others. Speaking in hate and pointing out the identity of another human being by race, gender, sexual preference or religion is racism. Yoga teaches that human beings are human beings — no identity tags required. Only then do we begin to see and feel the unity of yoga. When we teach these things, the student will move out of the emotional part of the brain and be relieved of any stress and anxiety, and they will be grateful.
It is recommended that all teachers adhere to a policy of no politics within the business for the health of the studio and the happiness of the community. It is important that all teachers are in line with and understand these principles.
Yoga is unity. Let’s allow yoga and our studios to be the voice of reason in these difficult times, and change the way in which we communicate. By doing so, we can be the inspiration for others to do the same.