Q&A Wednesday

Q&A: Should we mix yoga & politics?

This week’s Q&A is all about whether we should mix yoga & politics. It’s a sensitive subject but I’ll give you my take on this.

Here’s the question:

“It seems that almost EVERY yoga teacher I follow and look to for inspiration/connection is wrapped up in the fervor of the political climate and that just isn’t who I am. I respect everyone’s perspective whether I agree or not and want others to feel “safe” in our online community. I prefer to have political conversations in person and take action privately. I’m curious as to how you keep politics out of your message/posts? – Danielle”

I know a lot of us feel politically exhausted from overexposure because politics is on surround sound. I also felt similarly worn down by it for a while until I had a little epiphany that shifted my perspective…

Over to you! What are your thoughts? Should yoga & politics remain separate, or do you think we should keep an open dialogue about everything EVEN against the backdrop of our yoga practice?ย 

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15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Tracey Goodwin

    May 3, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Please don’t mix politics with yoga. Yoga time is time to relax and free yourself of anxiety and the stress of living in this crazy world. Mixing the two would defeat almost the entire point of the practice.

  2. Avatar

    Esther

    May 3, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Perhaps if our politicians would practice more yoga, they could make less nonsenses..

  3. Avatar

    Deborah

    May 3, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I have been in yoga teacher training that inevitably turns into nasty politics when we get to the “discussing philosophy” part of our weekends. Most of the classmates are definitely not of the same political viewpoint as a few of us in the class – it makes for a tyrannical venu and should not be allowed.

  4. Avatar

    Tanille delair

    May 3, 2017 at 8:08 am

    During the heat of the election last fall – the teacher and a student got into a debate during the warm up as the student was prolife and the teacher was pro planned parenthood. It was awful for everyone in class. It should not have happened. I was paying a 22 dollar drop in fee to listen to it and I’m still too traumatized to take a bother class at that studio. Please, teachers, don’t public ally pray for planned parenthood during class and ask for your students to join you in prayer. Thank you!

  5. Avatar

    Danielle

    May 3, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Thank you for giving your perspective on my question, Erin! I was super excited to wake up to this this morning!!

    I do want to clarify that I don’t judge other teachers on their open, public (social media) stance on politics or think I’m some how on a higher moral level. I’m glad we have people in our community and the world like that because I’m not like that. What I don’t really care for is the message being echoed that if you ARE a yoga teacher you MUST also speak publicly about political issues and IF YOU DON’T then somehow you are not fulfilling your role as a teacher.

    My perspective aligns with yours. I have my own political views, but my business is not the place to voice them because it is a place for everyone. Rascism, sexism, name calling, disrespect of someone else’s view, etc. aren’t tolerated in my daily life and won’t be tolerated within my classes or online community.

    Thanks again for answering my question!

    1. Avatar

      Erin Motz

      May 4, 2017 at 5:56 am

      thank YOU for asking it! i def wasn’t thinking you were being judgmental, i was just addressing that issue as a related thing ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Avatar

    Melanie Gibson

    May 3, 2017 at 9:12 am

    That’s the key thing – having a respectful discussion and finding a safe place to have it. That can be really challenging when it comes to hot button topics like politics or religion. People need to feel like it is okay to speak their own minds and not get attacked by someone else because they have different beliefs. It is important to agree to disagree, and move on.

  7. Avatar

    Timi

    May 3, 2017 at 9:20 am

    I think when you start practicing yoga, you automatically start to opening to the world around you, too, not just inside you and you become more aware of things that are happening to other people as well, not just the things you are experiencing. Maybe you got to look at things differently, my interests for public good for example has incredibly increased and, with that, came the need to understand what is going on in the world of politics, too. Now I care a lot more about politics, because it affects our everyday lives and today I am a more responsible citizen and like to discuss ideas with other people. BUT I would not like to discuss it in a yoga class, after class its more than okay for me, or an extra class scheduled only for discussing this could be a good idea, too, with people who actually want to talk about politics and with huge patience and respect towards other peoples opinion. Also, I think that a yoga teacher, as someone who cares about other people (because I like to think that no one becomes a yoga teacher just to do gymnastics with some people who pay for them) has the right to voice their need to talk about politics and can invite people for a deeper conversation and actually it can bring very good minds together and make a difference.

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    Jack Snedden

    May 3, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Absolutely no politics in Yoga!! Yoga is that occasional time of peace and unity with those who are seeking the same, regardless of race, political affiliation, status in life, etc. Don’t adulterated and ruin probably the only respite one gets from the otherwise dividing nature of politics!! PLEASE!!!

  9. Avatar

    DH Parsons

    May 3, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I can’t comment on this without revealing my own political leanings and if I do that I will most probably get slammed. And that is the reason why it’s best to NEVER talk politics in yoga class. As a yoga teacher I do not. In this age it seems that many cannot discuss politics any more, they have to get angry and spew venom instead of carry on a logical, peaceful conversation. Tis a shame. But that is the way things are shaping up. A very silly little world we live on. Very brave of you to approach this subject, Erin, but you did a good job.

  10. Avatar

    Turtlemoon

    May 3, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    i know for some they can easily mix the two. For me … no! Lol, i have enough anxiety causing stressors in my life that yoga is my sacred place, the place for me to relax, unwind, breathe ….. my mat is my sanctuary. In my classes I see i am not the only one who will steer the conversation away from politics and such …. so with my local yogi’s i know i am not alone in these thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Mary Jane

    May 3, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I don’t even want to watch this one. NO to mixing politics with ANYTHING. Especially Yoga! My father told me that his father told him to never discuss in polite company religion or politics…and how much money you make is no one’s business but your own. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    Brenda Bachrach

    May 3, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    People have the right to post anything they want on social media and that includes yoga teachers. But in a formal class setting, where students have paid their time and money to practice yoga, pushing a political agenda is beyond inappropriate. That doesn’t mean a teacher has to hide who they are and what they’re passionate about, but in a formal setting a teacher has an obligation to create a safe space for his or her students. ALL of the students. Not just the students who agree with them politically.

  13. Amanda Sides

    Amanda Sides

    May 5, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I was in 500hr yoga teacher training during the election, and someone asked our teacher what he thought of it all. He said, it’s all distraction and has nothing to do with who we each truly are. The best we can do is focus on being good people, doing good things, spreading love. I don’t think politics belongs in a yoga studio or philosophy discussion.

  14. Avatar

    Devan

    October 16, 2019 at 10:57 am

    An interesting noticing about all of the people who said not to mix yoga and politics is that… they are all white or white passing. Spiritual bypassing the harms that are happening to people in society (like racism, sexism, transphobia, etc) is actually violent and goes against core principles in yoga philosophy like ahimsa. It’s very telling how yoga has been bastardized from its original intention for the purposes of business. Yoga is not a business, it is a spiritual practice meant to lead to enlightenment. How can we possibly be enlightened as a people if we are willing to ignore the harms that are right in front of our eyes? That is a contradiction, one we must sit in but cannot afford to stay in for too long. To the point someone made earlier in this thread, “if more politicians practiced yoga then maybe there would be less nonsense”. Wholeheartedly agree! We can use our privilege to create the world we want to be in. Yoga is not an escape, it’s a way of life.

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