The Yoga Community Must Shelve Both Idealism and Politeness to Loudly and Publicly Endorse Obama. Right Now. Who’s In?

Via yoga 2.0 lab
on Nov 1, 2012
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by Matthew Remski

Approaching the eve of this critical election, I’ve been bothered by two political stances within the yoga demographic. One is etheric to the point of dissociation: “Whatever change we desire will only come through a change in consciousness.” The other is flaccid and polite to the point of meaninglessness: “Yogis can use the political process to express their values, off the mat.”

Here’s the problem: neither are adequately muscular to the task of preventing a hateful, mendacious plutocrat who evades taxes to tithe to a racist jabberwocky church from seizing the reins of power. My question to the yoga community at large is: why have we not seen a single prominent teacher or yoga organization formally and publicly endorse the Obama-Biden ticket? Do we not want to get our hands too dirty? Are we too busy pretending It’s All Good? Are we even a community at all?


The etheric-dissociative posture

The first stance – the etheric-dissociative – was called out recently by Derek Beres in a critique of a Marianne Williamson’s pseudo-political tweet: “No matter who wins the election, we need a collective leap in consciousness in order to take our country and our world in the direction of peace and love.” Williamson isn’t a yoga person per se, but according to my Facebook feed, she ranks high amongst many yogis’ oft-quoted sources of inspiration, along with the catatonic Eckhart Tolle and the insanely prolific Rumi. Beres does a great job in taking down her vague, apolitical, high-ground cop-out, and demanding that she and other prominent voices stop obscuring the real with the ideal, and show a little pragmatic leadership with regard to what we can do with the votes we have.

I’m afraid Beres wasted a little digital ink on his critique, because Williamson is not actually speaking politically at all. She is appropriating the language of a “political moment” to advance her brand of holier-than-thou dissociation that only people blind to their privilege can afford. Simply replace the phrase “wins the election” with any other verbal clause, and my point is clear:

“No matter who guides our foreign policy, we need a collective leap in consciousness…”

“No matter who wins American Idol, we need a collective leap in consciousness…”

“No matter who controls our food supply, we need a collective leap in consciousness…”

“No matter who walks the dog, we need a collective leap in consciousness…”

Williamson has but one Course-in-Miracles-inflected song, and she’ll sing it in the same key before and after November 6th. There is no room for history when you’re high on the power of now. Her job is not to rally political consciousness, but to maintain her constituents’ dissociation through the emotional onslaught of a very dirty campaign in an increasingly desperate political landscape. Her job is distinctly anti-political, and she’s doing it quite well. Douglas Brooks indirectly describes how she rolls in his recent critique of the nivrtti posture in spirituality:

In contemporary yoga such voices of nivrtti often resort to two strategies of criticism meant to proffer the superiority of taking a “higher” and “spiritual” path that contrasts with the conflicting views and uncertainties of a mundane human reality.  The two strategies are covertly (or not) coupled with certain logic of superiority.  It goes like this: any effort to express views that might be contentious, disputed, or cause conflict are deemed (1) the work of the “lower” features of an Ego—n.b., the capital “E” works a certain magic meant to express the authority of the claim that Ego=culprit in the equation that affirms (2) silence in the role of our better angel for “spiritual” accomplishment.  So, it is implied, to become silent and so serene beyond measurable response is set apart as the higher path of a “true” yogin.  The “spiritual” then becomes the apolitical.  But even a little more candor reveals that this apolitical spiritual path—revered as superior is more an effort to keep one’s politics private, to silence the process of a more honest conversation precisely because it could complicate or challenge relationships.  The next bit of legerdemain is to assert that this unifying view of the “true” nature of reality not only transcends any contentions but also manages to render everyone’s individual opinions equally true so that there is no need to have the challenging conversations in the open.  Just go inside and everything will be better.


The flaccid-polite posture

Off the Mat, Into the World has set itself up as a 501(c)3 non-profit, which means it cannot engage in political speech. This is an effective structure for fundraising, and for broadcasting the non-denominational brand of yogic self-regulation and empathy-building tools to the broadest audience. But it also creates a kind of hamstrung speech that wastes a lot of time in stating the obvious and avoiding the necessary conflict of the day. This is painfully clear in OTM’s affiliate programme, YogaVotes, which duplicates the efforts of other non-partisan voting-drive initiatives, like the League of Women Voters, which themselves court a predominantly progressive demographic, but can never call a spade a spade. Watching the intelligent and strong representatives of YogaVotes contort themselves around their deep internal desire to bury Romney under a thousand gallons of Kali’s flaming bile makes me squirm. (Please correct me, YV-ers if this is my projection.)

Do we really need, as YogaVotes claims on its homepage, to “awaken a new demographic of mindful voters—sparking higher voter turnout among the 20 million Americans who practice yoga”? Is yoga culture some ninth-grade classroom sleeping through Civics? Not from what I’ve seen. The vast majority of studio owners and practitioners I know are firmly progressive in their politics. And while progressivism does not translate into votes for Obama without a lot of kicking and screaming, it does translate into a strategic voting stance against regressive chaos. So why, I ask, with our sentiments and our privileged economic status and all of us hanging around the studio water cooler after class worried about reversals in health care coverage and women’s rights and environmental hooliganism, is the most visible political arm of yoga culture this toothless display of bendy niceness?

Be Scofield has done a great job of pointing out how there is nothing inherently progressive about mindfulness culture, and that OTM has accomplished its strongest branding success (providing quickie asana-snacks at both Republican and Democrat conventions) precisely by playing on the political neutrality of transcendent practices. He goes further to show that practicing yoga doesn’t necessarily make one progressive, citing the fact that corporate structures from Goldman Sachs to the U.S. military are using yoga to improve imperial efficiency. And of course we know that yoga culture itself is dotted by some very loud-mouthed libertarians like Lululemon owner Chip Wilson, who spouts as much Ayn Rand nonsense as Paul Ryan does, but whose power, thankfully, is limited to no-chafe gusset-design. Oops – and hiring conditions in his Chinese factories.

I don’t have a survey, but anecdotally it feels like Wilson and Republican flunkies who enjoy backbends are a small and self-absorbed minority in contemporary yoga. I’d say about 20%. Scofield may be right that yoga doesn’t make you a good person, but I’m willing to bet that there are far more genuinely good people than narcissist plutocrats practicing yoga. So I think we can stand a lot more than breathless requests to actually vote. That bar is way too low for what we’re capable of. We need our own Yoga Super PAC, so we can throw the fire with the best of them. The times call for a lot more Arjuna; a lot less Patanjali.


The Editorials of Yoga Culture are Blog Posts: Endorse Now

There is no broader organizing structure for contemporary yoga culture than the blogosphere. Popular yoga blogs have upwards of 50K regular readers each. While it would be great to hear that prominent teachers (let’s say: everyone on the faculty list for the next Yoga Journal Conference) were all actively endorsing an Anyone-but-Romney position, this would hold less democratic sway than if bloggers endorsed in the same way that the print newspapers do.

Here’s my suggested platform, which I think makes sense for the majority of the yoga demographic:

— Given that Mitt Romney’s discernible platform stands to set socio-economic justice, women’s rights, ecological stewardship, scientific research and foreign relations back by several generations, and

— Given that much more of his platform is actually indiscernible due to his pathological lying and opportunism, and

— Given that he is an ordained operative in an exclusionary religious institution rife with the anti-rationalism, anti-environmentalism, and magical thinking that is anathema to the culture of yogic inquiry:

— Incumbent President Obama remains the better and at least known choice, and should be passionately supported by yoga practitioners.

Simple, no? Anyone disagree? I know: I apologize to third-party advocates. Obama is not a perfect choice, given his mediocre record on human rights, upholding international law, and environmental progress. But the immediate legislative impact of a Romney administration is a far heavier price to pay than the ground we lose in reshaping the electoral landscape. Remember Nader, 2000, Florida. It’s not worth it.

I call on all yoga news outlets, magazines, blogs and bloggers, including those who publish and post to this site, to use your soapboxes in these last days to do what we haven’t been brave enough to do so far, caught as we have been between transcendent and politeness reflexes: weave our politics and practice into a bright braid of passion:

1.    Please reply below if you intend to endorse.

2.    Endorse Obama on your blog or online publication. Two sentences would do it.

3.    Provide the link to your endorsement in a follow-up comment to this post.

Make one post, between now and Monday. One brief but firm endorsement for the obvious choice. One single gesture that will mark the beginning of a shift in yoga culture towards greater courage, participation, and the dirty work of integrity.


Matthew Remski is an author, yoga teacher, ayurvedic therapist and educator, co-founder of Yoga Community Toronto, and a new papa. He is a co-contributor to 21st Century Yoga. His new “remix” translation of Patanjali  –threads of yoga– is going to print right now. Mark Singleton, author of Yoga Body:The Origins of Modern Posture Practice, says of the book: “I don’t know of any reading of the yoga sutras as wildly creative, as impassioned and as earnest as this. it engages Patanjali and the reader in an urgent, electrified conversation that weaves philosophy, symbolist poetry, psychoanalysis and cultural history. There’s a kind of delight and freshness in this book that is very rare in writing on yoga, and especially rare in writing on the yoga sutras. This is a Patanjali for postmoderns, less a translation than a startlingly relevant report on our current condition, through the prism of this ancient text.” Please check out Matthew’s site for more writings on Ayurveda and Yoga.




About yoga 2.0 lab

Matthew Remski is an Ayurvedic practitioner and Yoga Teacher Trainer in Toronto. His latest book, Threads of Yoga, is gathering international acclaim. He's teaching this online course starting 1/7/14. It's currently full, but there is a reduced-tuition option for auditing. The 12 weekly lessons will be available online for six months following the course. Participants receive a 130-page manual of notes.


179 Responses to “The Yoga Community Must Shelve Both Idealism and Politeness to Loudly and Publicly Endorse Obama. Right Now. Who’s In?”

  1. Maybe because the 'yoga community' is NOT a homogenous entity. There may be union but there is no ONE. I'm glad because I cannot support either candidate. I'd hate for the 'yoga community' to try to further try to alienate yogis by dictating a singular belief system. ANY belief system let alone a political one.

    I find this politicizing of yoga to be disrespectful and divisive. There are so many places in the world to find those characteristics. Need yoga be just another one of them?

  2. I am not decided if I am going to vote. If I do, I am writing in a candidate. I was a registered Democrat for 25 years before I quit the party in 2008. I was an OBSESSED politico who was a rabid liberal and passionately defended and furthered the cause. In spite of that fact, I managed to have many very good conservative friends who I listened to objectively and dispassionately. When I started to see that we, the Democrats, were becoming what we professed to hate did I realize I had no business in the party any longer. That meant supporting a candidate who would keep perpetuating war, further the Patriot Act, and do things which, if it was the other party, we'd never in a million years accept let alone support or apologize for. The truth is both candidates are different sides of the same dysfunctional coin. One that is not worthy of something so valuable as my trust, faith, and support.

    I certainly don't want yoga trying to speak as a unified voice for one candidate on my behalf. How dare they try to pigeon pose, er, hole me like that. There is no one political party in yoga any more than there is one race, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or age.

  3. Philip says:

    @Downdogandcats. Nice photo. Politics are based on peoples moral values of what is right and wrong. For example…Mitt Romney roof racked his own dog and then put his luggage inside. He then drove nearly 4 hours with his family dog Seamus strapped to the roof. Making a moral decision on who the yoga community would/should support is not as alienating as you propose. Not as much drama as you make it out to be. Moral values….are divisive. Being irresponsible and apathetic about what matters in the real world is a bigger, more dangerous problem than anything you might do on your yoga mat.

  4. Matt, I've endorsed Obama, in spoken and written word. I am not afraid to express my feelings about anything though I am cautious on the means of expression. There's much opportunity for miscommunication.

    I don't do this because I'm a yoga teacher but because I'm a person, not because my students are a captured audience but because we are sharing an experience together.

    Though my profile is not what it once was, even in the day I had no fear to express my heart to edges of the room. Why? Because I felt innocent. I had no agenda or desire to manipulate. I feared no enemies because I made none. It was easy. Perhaps there is too much second guessing that goes on as to how one is perceived now. Perhaps we are all tired and self conscious and mistrusting.

  5. carolhortonbooks says:

    It's telling that it took a Canadian to write this post.

    I'm traveling to Wisconsin this weekend to canvass for Obama along with three other friends – two of whom are yoga teachers. But, I'm not hopeful about "the yoga community" in general getting politically engaged enough to even endorse a candidate.

    And, even if some do, at least the online voices that I've seen are much more passionate about hating both of our major parties equally than anything else. There seems to be a vocal libertarian contingent in particular. I feel there is an enormous and problematic lack of pragmatism there, but prefer it to the "since we're all one, it's not spiritual or yogic to take a political position" mush that otherwise predominates.

    From what I've seen, it's sad but true that simply telling people to vote is considered edgy and political (and perhaps overly so, in some circles) . . . I had always thought that was the taken-for-granted starting point (of course I'm going to vote in an important presidential election! Really, it should not even be an issue). But clearly, in the American yoga community, that does not seem to be the case.

    Finally, you missed Be's statistic that equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats practice yoga in the US today – raising the suspicion that the reluctance to take a stand may have more to do with marketing considerations than anything else.

  6. Asking a yogi to endorse a political party would be like asking the Dalai Lama to endorse a political party.

  7. matthew says:

    Road trip with Carol! Thanks for weighing in. I did miss Be's stat. Or I ignored it, since it seems crazy to me from my Canadian perch.

  8. paul says:

    If you've seen the godhead, or take Krishna's advice to heart, you won't be listening to this article's fear mongering anyways, you'll be voting your varna. Patanjali says "cultivate the opposite," so no need to shelve idealism, just don't support fear. Jill Stein is the far better candidate than Obama, who is not mediocre but an enthusiast and non-apologist when it comes to drones, endless detention, extra judicial killing, corporate welfare, industrial agriculture etc.

  9. Jeff says:

    Kino MacGregor is openly endorsing Obama, it's all over her facebook feed. Just a heads up.

  10. yogijulian says:


  11. Chetana Panwar says:

    I agree with you that putting forward issues of inequality, social justice, food security etc. is very important, and certainly there is much in yoga philosophy that encourages us to champion 'rita' and 'dharma' – justice and right order. Therefore, it would be within the mandate of our 'profession' to do so. That said, for the reasons mentioned above (that yogis seem to come at what 'right order' is from different perspectives, thought I'd guess there are a lot of liberal democrats. I don't know if we ever could, or should, attempt block voting like the teacher's union often encourages. Individuals can certainly group together to forward their concerns and their position. It sounds like that is what you are proposing here, and I agree – we should continue to find ways to take active steps towards wider social and global justice. The united church I attend has a social justice committee, and I plan to get involved in it, as a member of that community, and as a yoga teacher (though that is not a yoga platform per se). We are beings with multiple aspects to our lives, and can find venues for action in various places.

    As you've often mentioned, there is lack of unity in the yoga community, and that leaves us in the predicament of having no regulatory body, no firm standards, no ombudsperson, and often no recourse in the face of gross ethical breeches (as we've seen recently and not infrequently in the past). I wonder if being a regulated profession would be a benefit to us in being able to become more organized, and to be able to face some of these issues as a required professional body with a democratically elected leadership through which we could better deal with issues, and make suggestions to the membership on such 'championing' initiatives.

    The recent election reminds me that I was in India during the last American election and we spoke of it often in class and in the lunch room. A few of us left the ashram and went to a neighbouring hotel to watch it on TV, and as a facilitator there, I gave a speech of elation (for me and many of the residents) at the election of Obama. Jai!!

  12. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Sure, I'm in.

    But whoever you vote for, know that your vote is one more step against the other candidates getting in.

    Just Vote! It's your right.

    If you think you're undecided, make up your mind and vote!

    Prove the pollsters wrong!!!!

  13. Truth says:

    Shameful. You supposed yogis are openly endorsing a president who's gone beyond Bush era foreign policy. Obama has a kill list. Look it up in NYT. Obama has a new disposition matrix. NDAA. Do you not care about indefinite detention??? Why endorse either of them?

    Obama went to war in Libya without congressional authority. How'd that work out for ambassador Stevens? Proxy war in Syria. Arming rebels all over the middle east. Are you people crazy?

  14. Rupa says:

    I really enjoyed this article. For years, while living in a yoga ashram, I didn’t vote, considering mantra meditation to be the far more powerful way to effect change in the world, within and without. I still do. But now I also vote, considering it to be my solemn, albeit more worldly, duty. You're right to acknowledge that one of only two major candidates WILL win this election, and while neither is ideal, a vote for Obama is a vote against the alternative: a global disaster resulting from thinly-veiled, right-wing extremism.

    Your other point, that leaders within the yoga community by and large shrink from political discourse –and certainly from taking a political stand– in the spirit of etheric disassociation or politeness is sadly accurate. How ironic that we as a community should be more influenced by the fear of losing followers or customers than by the risky association of Paramatma and “the dirty work of integrity.”

    Thank you for stepping out and for inspiring others to do the same. I will endorse.

  15. […] today, Matthew Remski posted an article on elephant journal, challenging yoga media, which includes bloggers such as myself, to “loudly and […]

  16. roseanne says:

    i'm in! just posted my response to this amazing call to action:

  17. Truth says:

    Matthew Remski is now the most dangerous man in yoga.

    Shouldn't yoga be about Religious tolerance? I can't believe Mr. yoga 2.0 would list mormonism as a point to support Obama.

    Can you prove this, "Given that Mitt Romney’s discernible platform stands to set socio-economic justice, women’s rights, ecological stewardship, scientific research and foreign relations back by several generations,?

    I'm pretty sure socio-economic justice was set back a few generations when Obama bailed out the banks and his DOJ never prosecuted one person for causing the financial crisis. How far did women's rights go back under Bush? If you'r brown in this country, both parties are pretty abysmal on women's rights. Scientific research and foreign relations? Do you smoke crack? Extra-judicial assassination is policy under Obama. Bush never assassinated an american citizen. Bush had to get congressional authority before Iraq/Afghanistan war. Obama just authorized Libya force. Scientific research was much better funded under Bush, because economy was better. Science research has been cut the last 4 years.

    So if you think Romney will be so bad, prove it. No matter who is prez, the banks and corps run the show. Money rules this country, not a person or a party.

    Any yoga org that endorses will lose my respect.

  18. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Who's in?

    I'm not.

    Here's why.

    The American War Machine and the American Gulag.

    Reps and Dems, aside from minor quibbling over, say, which countries to bomb, have been virtually indistinguishable in their military budgets and support of the military-industrial complex. There is a difference in style. Reps tend to be, in style, stern realists while Dems, in style, tend to be conciliatory internationalists. That matters in domestic politics but it makes no difference to people being bombed or tortured in foreign countries.

    Reps and Dems are absolutely indistinguishable in their support of incarcerating millions for victimless crimes, the American Gulag. Well, some support it, others just ignore it or rather don't even see it. The war on drugs has not only jailed millions for victimless crimes, it has decimated minority neighborhoods. Yogis get all passionate about relatively minor things like government certification of free choice in marriage and don't even think about our homegrown gulag.

    Obama or Romney is Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum. Obama might be more honest, centered, intellectual, and culturally similar to yoga devotees, but that just means we have a nice guy in charge of the War Machine and the Gulag. And the nice guy has exhibited zero interest in dismantling either.

    If you want to make a meaningful if symbolic vote, you can vote against war by voting Stein.

    Or you can vote against both war and the gulag by voting Johnson.

  19. Timmy_Robins says:

    Who wins this election affects not only America but the entire world. The world cant afford 4 or 8 years of Republican rule.

  20. Auki says:


    The obnoxious commenter above that calls himself (or herself) "Truth" is insane to argue for a pathological liar like Romney. It is entirely obvious to anyone with more than half a wit that Romney is incapable of representing facts or truth.

  21. Timmy_Robins says:

    And then there is the undeniable fact that republicans love mixing politics and religion . That might be business as usual in Arab countries but in the west it shouldnt be tolerated.

  22. Ah the ripe stench of cynicism! "Both the GOP and the DEMS are beholden to the corporate/military/industrial complex and there's no real difference between the two." How ironic that a statement can be both so blandly true and so blindly false! READ THE FUCKING PLATFORMS! And now, with the evidence of the response to Sandy compared to Katrina? This is directly correlated to Bush's gutting of FEMA and Obama reinstating its funding. Just one example of a distinction that is making a huge difference to those impacted by the storm.

    If you read the GOP platform, you'll see how they call Obama out for ignoring the "Defense of Marriage Act." You can bet ole Mormon Moron Romney will see to it that the Act is fully enacted. AND he's vowed to take away the measly aid of Obama's health care 'reform' and to work for the repeal of Roe Vs. Wade and with three supremes in their 70s that's a real possibility if Romney is elected.

    So, get real and hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. If you voted for Obama the first time around expecting more from him, then you only have yourself to blame for drinking the "Audacity" kool-aid! Now, with bitter pragmatic sense, vote for him and then HOLD HIS FEET TO THE FIRE! Continue to work actively for what you really want to see in US politics. But ignoring the election or taking the 'idealistic' route if you live in a swing state is only going to make you feel more self-righteously good about yourself while the elderly, the poor, the immigrants, the uninsured, the gay and the raped are the ones who will pay for your feel-good vibes!

  23. […] The Yoga Community Must Shelve Both Idealism and Politeness to Loudly and Publicly Endorse Obama. Ri…. […]

  24. Malcolm says:

    First, let me say that in a Democracy we need to respect the right of everyone to vote their conscience, no matter how despicable we personally find it.

    If people continue to choose the "lesser of two evils", they are still choosing evil. Therefore, if you are going to vote for a candidate, make sure you do it with complete confidence. If you are going to vote for Obama, does so because you think it is right, not "a lesser of two evils".

    Now, Obama has for been a "good" American president in that he has taken to his duties and responsibilities vigorously and has not shirked them. However, we should to understand is that Obama, and the position of any ruler, is worldly. Their job running a state and defending it against its [perceived or otherwise] enemies. This being the case, any ruler is forced to make decisions which will seem, on the face of it, unethical and anti-democratic.

    We would all hope that our rulers were of the caliber of Pasenadi, rather than Ajatasatru. Or at the very least, repentant like Ashoka. However, America is not a country imbued in Dharma culture.

    But since we here are followers of Dharma systems, should our political values be based on the platorms of the GOP and the Democrats?I think not.

    We need to recognize that a well-organized Evangelical Right has driven both Parties, the GOP and the Democrats, very far to the right of where they both were in the 1950's, despite the strident anti-communism of the day.

    So, the question a yogi or yogini ought to ask themselves is, from my perspective, "Which political affiliation is the most consistent with Dharma?"

    I feel there is only one reasonable choice for those who hold Dharma Values: The Green Party.

    US Greens:

    If you hold Dharma as the bedrock of your ethical system, then it is pretty clear that only rational choice consistent with this is voting for Green candidates whenever possible.

    Voting for the Democrat and the Repulican canditates is a voting for this or that vision for American power in the world.

    Voting for and supporting Green candidates is a vote for the whole world, one in which corporate greed is fettered; in which GMO's are severly restricted, in which fossil fuels become obsolete, in which the Northern Hemisphere ceases to exploit the South, in which world security is acheived through equitable sharing of the abundance of world resources and so on.

    So, if you like the status quo, vote for Obama, or Romney, etc. But if you want to see a culture predicated on Dharma values, then vote for Greens.

  25. I'm in brother! Sending Shyam Dodge my 2 cents on the subject and will put it up on elephant as well.

  26. heatmort says:

    From one Canadian to another, I'm really proud you wrote this. I've been talking about this to many friends in Canada and they are not seeing or rather understanding just how important it is for Americans to vote…!! Even as a non-American we can still do our part.

    I may not agree with why Mitt should not be in….re: one really big reason is his view on gays. But what many folks may not consider is that Obama did a lot from where he started from.

    There have been, however, several teachers in the US posting their views and even linking to actors (Redford) wrote a piece in the Huff. But sadly as far as I can see often telling people to vote comes across as pushy and bossy.

    Still, I don't think the yoga community should be immune to it. And interestingly enough are the ones who can create change!

  27. Rachel says:

    SO grateful that someone has finally said this out loud. Thank you, Matthew. Thank you. I endorsed:… . And will continue to do so. Keep the fire!

  28. Finally gave the Elephant the $12 I owe it in order to log in and say:


    More pointy remarks reserved for the YogaBrains post coming out Sunday.

  29. Bob says:

    The party of the President controlled all of Congress for two years. They could have done so much more and they didn't. If you are that ineffective with that much control…I don't care about your politics, you are simply a poor leader.

  30. CK MacLeod says:

    My own view is that Yogels ought to support PBO, even though making a public endorsement in a competitive election could be seen as divisively non-yogical. Krishna advises us to do our duty even if unpleasant, and our duty as American citizens is arguably to take part in democratic activities, so that requires taking sides. We just need to take sides in a unifying way, which means by promising to lovingly destroy with remorseless cruelty the sick bastards who oppose us.

  31. Nobel says:

    Hello Matthew!
    Thank you for this wonderful and timely post. I just endorsed Obama on my blog:

  32. Shyam Dodge says:


    YogaBrains will be posting a big endorsement on Sunday with some of our best and brightest.

  33. Sorry4yourdog says:

    We will be handing out endorsement bumper stickers outside the shala after today's practice…Bring your flag and your mats and we can chant 'Om Namah America' in unison.

  34. Guest says:

    What's the next step on this path? An article about why you can't be a good yogi and a Republican? A sign in the window of your yoga studio saying "No conservatives allowed here?" If you want to make arguments for your candidate, I'll listen and carefully consider your points, but when you start telling me that as a member of the yoga community this is what I MUST do–eat, wear, vote, think–that is where our paths must diverge.

  35. Sorry4yourdog says:

    Secondly, when you live in Canada and talk about changing the electoral landscape with this year's voting, it doesn't seem like someone is speaking from direct experience. I don't know what the weather is like in Benares because I don't live there, so why would I talk about it?

    What I do know is that no political candidate is ever feasible.

    This is because the majority of people do not know how to discern the truth from all of the data that is provided, nor do they have the time to do so either.

    What is important is the transmission of morals to our fellows.

    When I hear people talking about politics in my area, I redirect the conversation toward the infinite self that is in all and how what is really important is treating all with respect and producing intelligent action.

    Basing one's opinion of an appointed "leader" on what other's have told you without any real way of discerning the truth in their underlying motives is foolhardy. Especially when I press others to make the same decision knowing that they don't have the tools either to get real information about the candidates.

    The true, great saints never got involved in politics nor encouraged others to. Possibly because they spent all of their time focused on helping people in very real, practical ways…Not creating a platform out of thin air to talk about systems that don't matter in the dream/eternal.

  36. Truth says:

    Ralph Nader: Both Parties, Two Heads of Same Corporate Beast

    Nadar's solution is for 2 percent of the people to make civic engagement and political participation their chief hobby. If we had a fourth of the 15 million bird watchers in America put their energy in watching congress instead, we'd be in great shape.

    If yogis really want to be game changers, enlightened community, etc. Why don't you promote civic engagement in local politics. To me, these endorsements are just veiled self-marketing.

  37. matthew says:

    Okay Truth, this is weird: don't mean to piss in the pool with more "self-marketing", but promoting civic engagement in local politics is part of my practice. Here's me giving a deposition at Toronto City Hall on the eve of draconian funding cuts to library funding:….

    Goes to show you — you really can't make assumptions about folks, can you? There are easier ways of making coin in the yoga world than hanging out on EJ all day debating how we can best engage politically as a culture. We could be leading asana vacays to Costa Rica. Give your cynicism a rest.

  38. […] It was heartening for us to see Matthew Remski further this important dialogue in his most recent Elephant Journal post. In no uncertain terms, he called yoga leadership out on their pervasive apathy and general […]

  39. shyamdodge says:

    6 yogis endorse Obama on YogaBrains:

  40. Truth says:

    I agree with half your thesis, "That the yoga community must shelve both idealism and politeness." Also, I think the conversation about endorsing is more important than the actual endorsement and you should be commended for both facilitating and engaging in this process. But I don't think Yoga communities should be endorsing politicians.

    First of all, your just a yoga teacher. Your not more enlightened, better educated, politically informed, etc. Your endorsement carries no weight for me. To me, your endorsement is just adding to all the political bullshit I'm bombarded with all day. And it makes me not want to go to your class.

    Second, as a student, I don't need my yoga teacher to motivate me to vote or persuade me to vote for one particular person. I need my teacher to help guide me through the psychology of politics. Why are both sides so divided? Why do I feel so negative towards the other side? Why don't yogi's feel the same moral outrage towards both sides, as I do? Is there really anything yogic about this ego-identification process. Ever noticed how all the posts on EJ are anti-Romney, not pro-obama. Like we have to collectively share in this egoization process of casting off all things that don't jive with story of self. This story of what the yoga community is and what values it shares. I don't want my yoga community to be political, I want my yoga community to help me mentally deal with the political process this country goes through. I don't think it's a healthy one, and your endorsements play into it.

    Third, ever try to understand the other side? Maybe the GOP has some good points. There are plenty of women who will vote GOP. White, well educated women, like many in the yoga community. It's lazy to just see these women as unenlightened. What is it of there psychological makeup that they consider conservative issues more prescient that liberal ones. Are we just playing into Identity politics?

    Lastly, don't make the mistake that thinking your students are part of the yoga community. It may be good for a community of yoga teachers to participate in this group endorsement practice, but it could alienate your students, who many view yoga as an escape from political culture.

    So I think yogis and yoga teachers should be politically engaged, you shouldn't be afraid to talk about politics, but this endorsement thing is taking it too far. JMHO

  41. matthew says:

    Following up on this post, reviewing and analyzing some of the sentiments expressed in the comment thread here:

    Thanks, all, for a really healthy discussion.

  42. Patricia Juarez says:

    It is beyond me that anyone other than the super wealthy would vote for Mitt.
    1. Shemas on the roof says it all. (dog)
    2. How could any one of color vote for him?
    3. Unless you want to reverse Roe v. Wade, why would any female vote for him?
    4. Want to heal the planet? Forget it, Mitt that's hilarious.

  43. Great post! I found this post by Ben Ralston to be quite telling:

  44. […] week, Matthew Remski blogged on Elephant Journal a call for the yoga community to “shelve both idealism and politeness to loudly and publicly […]

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