In our advice column, called Wolf Wisdom, Wolf Terry, a Bhakti Yoga teacher and writer in Denver, Colorado, answers your pressing questions about practicing asana, meditation, mantra, and more. In this post, she discusses whether or not politics have a place in our practice.
In the last few years, I’ve found the yoga community to be charged with politics. While I agree with some of what’s said, it taints the practice for me. Why can’t yoga just be yoga?
Just Be Peaceful
Dear Just Be Peaceful,
If your yoga does not center politics, social justice, and human rights, then it is not yoga. The Bhagavad Gita tells the story of Arjuna’s political struggle of going to war with his own relatives to create a just world. On the battlefield, Arjuna embarks on a spiritual journey with Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu, the great sustainer. Arjuna wrestles with his duty to restore balance to chaos, the dominant theme being that one cannot reach peace without conflict, that light does not exist without dark. The yoking of these opposites is the very definition of yoga.
Sometimes we must confront what feels uncomfortable in order to gain awareness and find resolution. Yoga can teach us how to navigate discomfort so we can become more mindful. In the past decade or two, this understanding of yoga has been lost and replaced with a “good vibes only” toxic positivity that ignores, downplays, and silences worldwide injustice.
I encourage you to dive as deep into your discomfort as you would a heart-opening shape. Do not cave or shrink away. Flow through the emotions our political climate brings up. Dismantle your prejudices, your privilege, your conditioning piece by piece, and be patient. Truth and clarity will follow, and suddenly once-uncomfortable places will become your warm-up, your battle cry. They will become your practice.
Get to Work :: Wolf
See also Do Politics Belong in Yoga?