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
get elephant's newsletter

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.

 

 

2,151 views

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.

Comments

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. matthew says:

    Thank you, downdogandcats. Question: Are you going to vote?

    Further: endorsing Obama is as far as can be away from "dictating a singular belief system." It's just damage control.

    Further: the call doesn't politicize yoga, but insists that practitioners of yoga realize that we live in a politicized world, and stop trying to run away from this fact.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. matthew says:

    I understand the third-party passion and the grave disappointment in the Democratic party, which I share, having campaigned hard in 2000 and beyond. There is no political party that will represent all of the concerns of the community of practitioners. But there is a very grave decision to be made on Tuesday, and only one clear pragmatic choice. Call it pigeon-holing out of sad necessity. Your write-in candidate will not stop Romney, and a Romney administration is a global disaster.

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. matthew says:

    Dear Paul: please show me the Godhead. I'd like to know how a vote for the excellent, excellent Jill Stein is going to help prevent Romney and crew from rewriting the meaning of rape, shredding what's left of the social net, and cranking up the drills. What is the most pragmatic choice here, today, given current polling, that will "cultivate the opposite?"

    By the way: for those of you who need a translation, Paul's "voting your varna" means "voting your caste", which, given our present class stratification, is a rather awkward reference to make.

  12. matthew says:

    Yeah, I think you're right about the growing panoptic claustrophobia. Can you share your endorsement links?

  13. Jeff says:

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

  14. yogijulian says:

    endorsing.

  15. Chetana Panwar says:

    Namaste!
    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!!

  16. matthew says:

    There are few leaders as politically intelligent and pragmatic as Tenzin Gyatso. I think you've made the opposite point to the point you intended.

    Again, my proposal does not request a statement of identity, but an act of pragmatism.

  17. yogijulian says:

    hold on, so: a) yogis are on the same level in some way as the dalai lama and b) the dalai lama for some reason shouldn't endorse a candidate?

    WHY?

  18. paul says:

    You brought up Arjuna in this article, I just clarified what that means. If I've seen the godhead, I've forgotton, and if I knew to show you I would.

    A vote for Stein is a vote for peace, not an endorsement of Romney. She will not be to blame for the Democrats poor messaging (more a way to avoid hypocrisy to my view; Romney is the one talking about poverty), or their lack of leadership (bipartisan, bad bills that Republicans either help write then vote as a block against, if not walk away entierly), nor is Nader to blame for Gore's lockbox, Clinton's absent stumping, or one of the worst rulings by our Supreme Court. Had Obama been the candidate the 2008 campaign presented, he would be the pragmatic choice, pro-war but a leader for peace and transparency. But instead of being the leader, he has always been the lesser, fighting so hard for the middle ground that the middle moves rightward, and when he thinks a position or policy would effect this election, he uses that as the excuse for his inaction or capitulation (Russia, Israel, record prececution of whistleblowers, healthcare, the keystone pipeline, etc). He is not a pragmatic choice for peace.

    Democrats use "pragmatism" to excuse their every rightward voting, and this has only worked to push them to the Republican position. The use of pragmatism for fear mongering only makes fear, and is itself a policy of fear. This may also be contributing to the rightwardness of the Democrats.

  19. I think the problem with mixing yoga and politics is that yoga is about authenticity (well, maybe not the mainstream rock star kind) while politics is anything but. In order to support a politician or a party you have to buy into some serious outright lies about who they are but, worse, who the other party is. Neither is as good or as evil as the other and yet politics would have you believe one side is Godly with the other is Satan. The reason yoga and politics do not and will not ever mix is because politics are inherently dishonest and inauthentic. Yoga, in it's truest form, is neither.

  20. matthew says:

    Romney is talking about poverty? Please. Only when he's denigrating the 47%.

    A vote for Stein is a vote for peace in an alternate reality in which Romney can't win because you spoiled your vote (if you're in a swing state). Otherwise it is a vote for an ideal, which becomes the enemy of the good.

    I'm with you in your catalogue of grievances, and worry as much as you do about the rightward tack of every institution, the Democrats included.

    But it comes down to this. Would you risk a Romney presidency over a vote for Stein? That's what Arjuna faces. The pragmatism of breaking some laws (killing his brethren, or ideals) to preserve at least some of the greater good.

  21. matthew says:

    Downdogandcats. Yoga and politics are disciplines, and yogis and politicians are people. We're talking about the latter here, just to clarify.

    Yoga and politics may not mix very well, but yogis (people) whose lives are impacted by what politicians (people) do had best get their hands dirty.

  22. As a recovered political junkie, I can tell you that I care about the issues, have knowledge where each candidate stands, know what each party represents. I cared about the issues LONG before I stepped foot on a yoga mat. Likewise, I'll practice yoga long after the hoopla and hype of the election and the media motivation of new and/or young voters has subsided. I do not need yoga to be an informed and involved citizen and I don't need to be an informed citizen to be a dedicated yogi. Matter of fact, I prefer the separation because one is about letting go of judgment, attachment, and control and the other is all about gaining and keeping all of those things.

  23. paul says:

    Yes, I would vote for Stein in a swing state, and if the only choice is a vote for two candidates whose policies favor big banks and bully capitalism, I do not vote for either just as I would not vote for a dictator- it reenforces the legitimacy of a brutal system.

    I will not vote for fear, be it Romney or Obama, or other "pragmatists" without conscience. If Krishna says to me to man-up and be a warrior and vote for war, because I am a warrior maybe I would vote for war. But Krishna doesn't say, "everybody has to vote for the warrior," he says to surrender to him, and for me, for voting, that means not endorsing brutes.

    Using fear for fear produces fear. This "pragmatism" is what allows Romney to speak about poverty as if he honestly wants to remove it, while Obama and the Democrats slink by and treat it as the "p" word. Republicans have taken another tactic, treating "pragmatism as the "p" word, and showing consistent gains despite the electorate shifting generally leftward. The US is increasingly becoming a plutocracy because of these "pragmatic" political moves, maybe hype-ocracy describes the present situation better, fitting for the clown show of much of main stream politics and financial policy, and a good place for this sort of fear based pragmatism to thrive. This is not some dharmic field with a righteous war, but a bunch of nonsense and imagined otherness where the force of fear, "pragmatic" and otherwise, dominates. The identity politics alone are a good reason to stay away from endorsements if you're a teacher, especially the fear based "pragmatism" which helps reenforce the with-us-or-against-us that has come to dominate the hype-o-sphere.

    I am pragmatic when it comes to some sort of parity of good stuff to bad stuff (poisonous, but also healthful), but when its bad stuff or worse stuff (hurts you quickly, hurts you quicker), especially when there is good stuff around, then no. If I believed in the fear approach you endorse here, I'd be working for Romney, as he is likely to be so bad an actual progressive might stand a chance in 2016.

    If it's ok to approve brutality on the ballot, why would it be not ok to be brutal elsewhere?

  24. matthew says:

    It sounds like you became exhausted by politics, and rightly so, and have looked towards yoga as a refuge. I'm glad that works for you: it may be exactly what you need right now.

    But on the whole, presenting yoga practice as some kind of hallowed escape from political concern does not make for good or sustainable citizenship within our community. If you've had to take a break, that's understandable. But it's not fair to claim that those who continue to join practice with politics are somehow being "divisive". We're just trying to bring our internal world and external worlds into closer harmony.

    Nobody lives in two different worlds: yogaworld and politicsworld. There's just the world.

  25. I don't have endorsement links. I send group e-mails, share links on facebook though I rarely use the thing. I'm a bit homespun, I guess. There's a sign on my lawn. I suspect it mostly makes anyone who doesn't support Obama mad. Anyone else would be voting for him or not voting. In some ways it's an act of separation by virtue of declaring alliance but there it is anyway. I doubt I've ever convinced anyone to change candidates for any reason but I still try.

  26. 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!!!!

  27. Vision_Quest2 says:

    Just see how far being "yogic" gets you when you can't afford health insurance in this country and need it ….

  28. Ah, but we do live in different worlds. People routinely do not blend politics, religion, sex, and other topics with their employment and in other places where there have been respected BOUNDARIES for such. It is hard enough to find a gifted yoga teacher who is not regurgitating terminology and philosophy they don't really understand let alone live by. Hard enough to find a class that is well taught, varied, inclusive and interesting. I really don't look forward to the day when I am lectured in a class about who to vote for or given information about a candidate which can be found anywhere outside a yoga studio four walls.

  29. mariavlong says:

    I admire Jill Stein. I carry responsibility for having voted for Ralph Nader and contributing to the pox that infected my already vulnerable country for 8 years. As a mother of a young woman I cannot afford to make the purist choice again.

  30. matthew says:

    Paul: your eloquent and tortured argument cannot answer the question: What is better — a Romney administration or an Obama administration?

    That's the vox populi pragmatism at stake, not the political opportunism you complain of: please don't conflate the two. Doing so holds out some hope that there will not be an election on Tuesday with consequences. No moral high ground will help your neighbours when R appoints the next Supreme Court justice who will reinforce the personhood of corporations or strip women of their rights.

    Jill Stein is good stuff, but she's not meaningfully available to the task at hand. Let's play the long ball game without completely trashing the next four years.

    Lastly: the accusation of fear-mongering. What is fear-mongering about proposing the best option in a bleak time?

  31. 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?

  32. 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.

  33. Truth says:

    The world would be better under Romney, because Romney wouldn't be able to get away with the things Obama has. Like Kill List, going to war without congressional authority, bailing out the banks, creating record income disparity.

  34. Truth says:

    The dog lived!!!! Romney has never ordered the extra-judicial killing of an american citizen. Obama has a kill list. Google it. Reported in the New York Times. Read stanford's Living Under Drones. Obama signed the NDAA authorizing indefinite detention. Do you know how serious it is that a citizen can be detained indefinably? Bush didn't do this, Obama did.

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

  36. roseanne says:

    i'm in! just posted my response to this amazing call to action: http://www.itsallyogababy.com/iayb-endorses-obama

  37. paul says:

    "Eloquent and tortured", better than "flacid-polite" I guess. Is this where I revel in you faking American? yay maybe.

    Reading your article and comments, you are not saying Obama is good, but that Romney would bring some horrible doom, the quick bleed vs. the slow bleed Obama has brought. You are saying vote for fear, the fear of Romney. That is fear mongering, well founded or not. Yet Romney is just a more efficient Obama.

    They both answer to corporate interests, not human interests (there is a Summers but no Van Jones). They both have the same foreign policy. They both support the Fed. They're both vague (Obama less so) on an economic plan. Both play the noise machine that passes for political commentary. Waiting for the Obama miracle is as much of a fantasy now as it was in 2008; the change you can believe in is no change at all. Now it's the equally senseless "winning the future," and yet you say such nonsense deserves a yoga practitioner's enthusiastic support, because of fears.

    The pragmatic game you are pushing only serves the rightward trend, because the people on the right don't support what they don't support. There will never be a leftward trend if all there is is "pragmatic" – its a nasty line and the more I'm seeing it the worse it gets. The longer it stays the more likely the Republicans are to go further and further to the right. The more "credible" Republicans stayed out of this race, waiting for 2016, where there will be a real challenger to the US's liberties- that's a fear fact!

  38. paul says:

    No one who voted for Nader bears responsibility for Gore's loss. Gore ran a poor campaign, won, and then the court stamped Bush the winner, in a state governed by his brother- neither Nader nor his supporters bear any blame for that.

    I vote on merits, not the demerits of another. If you find merits in Obama that's one thing, but voting for fear only validates and entrenches that candidates positions. After he won, Obama said that he'd have to be pushed by his supporters, and that's true, but it didn't happen. Summers was in, Van Jones was out, all to a whimper in the main stream press.

    Polling that doesn't rely on cold call phone calls show across the board that Obama will win, as all polls did until the first debate. I still think he's a shoe-in but that's another story.

  39. matthew says:

    Truth, you've got excellent facts. We're all traumatized by the chaos of militarized late capitalism. We'd all like to just throw up our hands.

    But I'd like you to meet my friend, Hard Choice. Do you have a better option on Tuesday? Stay at home?

  40. paul says:

    Canadians really pulling for the war machine! 😉

  41. paul says:

    More accurately, Bush started this renewed expansion of the secret state, Obama continued it. The Obama administration has also persecuted more whistle blowers than any president.

  42. matthew says:

    I was born in Michigan, Paul, and have lived stateside for half my life in states both red and blue.

    Are you suggesting: vote for the "more efficient Obama?" Nobody's waiting for a miracle, except perhaps you, by suggesting that spoiling your ballot on Tuesday will serve a leftward trend.

    And now you really have to elaborate on your last sentence.

  43. @AhimsaYogi says:

    "both candidates are different sides of the same dysfunctional coin."
    I respect each person's right to their own opinion, but a statement like this feels like a bit of a cop-out to me whenever I hear it.
    Yes there are similarities between all the less-than-perfect politicians and players engaged in the political game. The likenesses are easy to point out. Dissatisfaction is easy to justify.
    However we do not decide to vote or not vote based on samenesses, we vote based on the differences. And the differences are significant enough to make it more than worthwhile to get out and do one's civic duty.

  44. 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.

  45. paul says:

    I already voted, for Jill Stein! Woo hoo! Are you voting? Spoiling my ballot means voting against my interests, which would be voting for Obama, for instance. You have an abundance of yogier than thou bullying alongside the "pragmatic" lines about voting for a bad candidate, yet I am the one "spoiling" because in the twisted hyped up world, a vote not for the bad candidate is a vote for the worse candidate.

    I live in a very safely Obama state, and I've no illusions about the insignificance of my votes especially at the national level. But I still think my vorte matters.

    If you saw the very poor showing in the 2 years of Republicans running for president, you'd have to see it as set up for 2016, when far more competent and "credible" Republicans will run.

  46. @AhimsaYogi says:

    Does one really need to "lecture" to share their position? Their viewpoint? Their reasoning for it?
    I don't want a politics lecture in my classes either, but I do want a real person, who has a real life, a favourite ice cream flavour, a history of mischief in their teenage years, and yes, a thoughtful position on the state of the world today, and where we can use our voices to make a difference.

  47. matthew says:

    I value boundaries in many contexts, including reading comprehension.

    If you look again, you might see that I in no way advocated in-class lectures. I called specifically to the nodes of communication in the yoga world — bloggers and magazines — to up their game in the field of civic duty, and work towards representing a culture that participates rather than evades.

  48. matthew says:

    Okay Paul, if he's a shoe-in to you, I understand more where you're coming from. Except this "voting for fear" business. What's the metaphysics? Sounds more like "law of attraction" than viveka to me.

  49. 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.