On Politics, Religion and Yoga.

Via on Jul 1, 2010

I’ve been called a socialist, a hippie, and a “radical.”

“I’m not interested in becoming a freedom fighter, or the President of this country or that. What I’m really interested in is teaching yoga.”

I grew up going to church every week, and I read the news headlines every day.

But to be honest, I don’t really follow politics. I have my qualms about organized religion, and I don’t define myself by any particular belief system.

Here’s the thing: it’s not that I don’t care about issues like social justice, or the environment, or whether or not there is a heaven and a hell. I believe these are important topics of discussion that should be considered thoughtfully. However, pointing fingers and applying laws or religious doctrines to solve such deep-seated problems seems like an ineffective solution to me. It appears that humanity itself has reached a point where people have become indifferent to one another and have failed to miss the significance of the fact that essentially, we are all the same.

Ultimately, human beings just want to be happy. I think that the more we continue to define ourselves as “socialists” or “capitalists”, “Christians” or “Muslims”, “environmentalists” or “consumerists”, the more we reinforce the mistaken notion that there is something inherently different about you and I.

I always say, half-jokingly, that yoga is the solution to all of life’s problems. At the most basic level, yoga asana [poses] is a form of physical exercise and a great stress-reliever. It has been demonstrated that the presence of stress plays a significant role in our mental and physical well-being. Too much stress can lead to sickness which manifests itself in many different ways—from insomnia to depression to cancer.

The practice of yoga encourages us to undergo a process of self-examination, quiet our chattering minds, and recognize the light in us which also shines in each and every other human being. Yoga leads us to the realization that the homeless man we pass by on the street each day is just as much our brother as the millionaire CEO in the office building that the homeless man sleeps outside of.

These are the types of simple revelations that make changes—not just at the surface level, but from the very root of our heart center.

Quite frankly, I’m not interested in becoming a freedom fighter, or the President of this country or that. What I’m really interested in is teaching yoga—whether that means leading people through a sun salutation or being love in action.

Everybody has the potential to create positive change. All it takes is the willingness to step onto the mat and begin the exhilarating exploration of the strength that can be found within.

So what are you waiting for?

About Julia Lee

Julia is a yoga teacher, lover of all things, and dedicated student of life. She strives to be open to whatever the universe throws her way and practice her yoga off the mat at all times. Julia believes that the best lessons can often be found in the most unusual places. She writes about her experiences at julialeeyoga.com and on Twitter @julialeeyoga.

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4 Responses to “On Politics, Religion and Yoga.”

  1. Cole C. says:

    What a great article Julia.

    I particularly struggle with the terms "conservative" and "liberal" as they seem to be applied to just about anything nowadays.
    Everybody wants to know where you fall on a political and religious spectrum and it's just not logical.

    As a new student to yoga, your article really resonates with me. You so eloquently sum up the reasons why I want to develop a solid yoga practice. The outlook of your practice sounds really grounded and I just want to thank you for writing this.

  2. Julia Lee julialeeyoga says:

    Hi, Cole!

    Thank you so much for your kind and insightful comments. I'm thrilled to hear that you come to yoga with an open mind and a willingness to explore beyond the physical postures. With that type of attitude, I'm sure you have a long and very fruitful road of you as you begin your journey into the practice of yoga!

  3. Emer says:

    I find ambiguity in the sentence “It appears that humanity itself has reached a point where people have become indifferent to one another and have failed to miss the significance of the face that essentially, we are all the same.’
    Historically I’m not aware of a time that society was less indifferent. Furthermore to “fail to miss the significance” could be construed as a positive force. Of course labelling is divisive and counter-productive in terms of community but individuals love to set themselves apart from their peers to celebrate different views.
    Remember yoga can be a little divisive and competitive too but essentially it celebrates the power of one to change the world one asana at a time. Enjoy the ride…..

  4. Lisa Flynn says:

    Well said, Julia!
    Lisa Flynn http://www.childlightyoga.com

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