There’s been a little talk lately about “the politicization of yoga,” and, I have to say, it makes us a wee bit squirmy to think about. Don’t get me wrong. We’re all for protest, civil disobedience, boycotts, gluing (the right) locks, Bread & Puppet Tom foolery, and even a fair share of black-blocing if the weather’s “just right”….
But, the idea of doing trikonasana as a form of resistance? I don’t know. It doesn’t necessarily give us the willies, but definitely produces some minor heebee-jeebees.
Lately, when a new form of activism arises, it tends to fall into the greater category of “lifestyle activism,” which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, but when put in the hands of cookie cutter “liberals,” tends to become this awful juggernaut of quaint ideas and self-congratulatory pep talks. [Watch co-founder of Wanderlust, Jeff Krasno, verbally wank off his disinterested audience for a great example (First 60 seconds)].
Now, I’m not as neggie on using one’s lifestyle choices as a form of protest, as, say, anti-civilization theorist, John Zerzan, might be (despite how much I appreciate his overall critique). But, a person can simultaneously buy a reusable water bottle and still realize that in doing so he has had a greater positive effect on how he feels about his place in Poohsville, than he has had on Poohsville itself.
I will say, however, that I mos def have a problem with lifestyle activism being seen as the be-all-end-all method of popular resistance. As if simply rerouting the socio-economically mediated commerce of late-capitalism into the pockets of corporations that have a wing of their offices devoted to green marketing is going to have an effect on the uneven distribution of wealth in this country, which by design necessarily perpetuates an unsustainable civilization.
We’ve also been seeing a trend around the political yoga discussion that makes some rather unfriendly assumptions about the supposed ubiquity and high position of politricks, as if politricks were somehow a universal given. We have two things to say about this:
- Any assumption that politricks and the overall political system is, at its best, a necessary evil, is unfortunate.
- Any assumption that yoga is by its nature “political” gives politricks an honor we’re not willing to bestow.
For us, yoga becomes a politically relevant act only when politricks and its “interests” meander into the field of yoga, and not the other way around. For example, urdhva danurasana is politically irrelevant right up to the point when opening the front-body, increasing lung capacity, strengthening and lengthening the quads, and all-around brightening up the nervous system become relevant to, or come in conflict with, politically-motivated peoples. In other words, yoga becomes political only when a “stilling of the fluctuations of the mind” becomes relevant to and/or in conflict with political agendas, which I must admit, is increasingly the case today (air pollution/noise pollution).
Of course, there are some people who seem to have an honest belief that if government and politricks were to become infused with yoga that this would somehow purify the political system. SAY WHA?!
It appears to me that commercial yoga culture—the culture presumably in closest proximity to the yogic tradition and its teachings—simply replicates, if on a slightly more micro-level, the very standards that make our political systems so dangerous. Think about it. Commercial yoga culture, and by extension celebriyogi culture, is dominated by popularity contests, money grabs and power grabs, vicious infighting, politically motivated alliances, and an overall inability to display any noteworthy outreach to peoples other than those represented by the dominant social class [no link needed here, just look around you]. Why the hell should anyone expect a yogafied political system to be any different than the one we find ourselves in today? Because, members of this commercial yoga culture chase food fads like the last goji berries on planet Earth? I just call that a humbling example of how the human animal finds knowing what to eat an impossibility!
Nah…. I have more faith in the honey badger making positive change, than I do some rich white class of yoga “enthusiasts” wanting to make legitimate critique of itself a marginalized exception to the rule.