At first glance it may seem like yoga and voting have absolutely nothing in common. After all, a body-based spiritual practice and political candidates don’t even show up on the same page in most books. The connection lies in what yoga practice offers folks–discerning choice.
Seane Corn, who, with Arianna Huffington, launched The Oasis in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention must’ve had some sense of that connection, because this year her organization, Off the Mat, Into the World, introduced YogaVotes with the belief that “yoga affects our experience of our bodies, what we buy, the way we treat people, and how we engage in relationships” and that we can “extend that awareness to the decisions we make for our schools, communities and our country.” The aim of YogaVotes is to get yoga practitioners to vote their values in the 2012 campaign.
This summer in a press release Seane stated that, “YogaVotes is calling for the entire yoga community to rise up and find its voice, uniting the work we do on the mat with the decisions we make in the voting booth. We know that 20 million empowered and conscious voters cannot help but be heard. We hope that through this vital initiative we can mobilize a new wave of activists to lead effectively.” (source: YogaVotes)
The mission behind The Oasis at the RNC and DNC this year has been getting folks at both conventions to take a moment to get back in touch with themselves even as they are participating in the election process. Being able to reconnect with ourselves is the first step toward re-engaging our communities. When we vote we can then make a thoughtful, conscious choice about what impact that vote might have.
If it seems a little woo-woo to use yoga as the foundation for getting people to vote consciously, think about it this way, people who practice yoga for a long period of time tend to be less stressed and more aware. (source: livestrong) How they approach anything in their lives comes from a perspective that greatly differs from someone who’s stressed out, fearful, and unaware of the affect they are having on the world. And of course, if we’re talking about voting, it doesn’t take much to understand how who we are affects the outcomes of how we vote. This isn’t a partisan thing, an “us versus them” thing, it’s about being thoughtful. It’s about using all of what you know, what you’ve learned, and who you are to make a well-considered choice from all parts of your being. That’s where the yoga comes in. It’s a choice from the heart and gut first–the body–then the head.
As YogaVotes asks on their Web site, “What if we all helped bring the practices of inclusivity, compassionate action, collaboration and unity to our country’s hyper-partisan politics?” How might that change the world?
Learn More About YogaVOTES
Learn More About Off the Mat, Into the World