Just the other day we were spouting insurmountable wisdom regarding the squirm-inducing “politicization of yoga.” But we didn’t know that at the time of writing, a stylist in Tampa, Florida was at the Republican National Convention, setting up a room with purifying candles, mood-enhancing essential oils, and puffy white pillows!
That’s right, kittens. As we speak the RNC is running at full steam, having avoided divine retribution in the form of a hurricane, complete with foot rubs, a little yoga stretching, and tasty delicious food all provided by your very own mainstream yoga lifestyle tradition. Check it:
“Four years ago Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM) and Arianna Huffington partnered to create The Huffington Oasis, a unique, alternative space providing yoga, meditation, spa services, and organic food at the DNC.
The Oasis was designed to provide the politicians, media, etc. a refuge where, instead of grabbing a Red Bull and burger between sessions, they could come to reconnect to their bodies, minds and intentions in an environment providing sustainable methods for grounding, health and healing in an otherwise supercharged environment….
We knew we would want to do this again, but this time we wanted to offer The Oasis at the RNC as well. Everyone, regardless of political convictions, deserves the gifts that yoga and other healing modalities can provide. It was very important to us that these offerings make it to both sides of the aisle.
We are thrilled to be partnering with Arianna again, at both the RNC in Tampa on August 27-30 and at the DNC in Charlotte, NC September 3-6. The reach of these events will be significant, with 16,000 delegates and countless media gathering at both venues. This is not about bringing politics into yoga, but bringing yoga into the political arena.
I believe deeply in the impact it could have.”
Of course, criticizing anything Seane Corn’s Off the Mat, Into the World project does is like yelling at a kid in a wheelchair to move faster. It’s just not done. Although, this morning we’re caring less about conventions of conduct and more about conventions spilling over with white conservatives who wouldn’t know the plight of marginalized peoples if it took a rank hobo-crap on their faces while getting their eyebrows waxed by svelte Tatiannas.
The question as to whether politics has a place in yoga is both debatable and divisive, but mostly it’s just boooooooring. Why? Because typically “bringing yoga into the political arena” tends to involve a lot of spa treatments and acroyoga for delegates and media. Forget about those pesky yamas and niyamas everyone’s always talking about. Shit is dogma, right? Nah, this TIME Inc video from the Oasis at the 2008 DNC is what it’s all about.
OTM’s mission is “to use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.” Similarly, OTM’s election year campaign, YogaVotes has a mission to “encourage the 20 million Americans who practice yoga to take their values into the public sphere and into the voting booth.” We can’t really see how an appearance at the RNC (as well as next week’s DNC) supports or furthers either mission. Nor do we feel, for very specific reasons mentioned below, that any of this has anything to do with change or eradicating the necessarily murderous idea of Nation States.
Anyway, on the one side you’ve got that tired old argument that “yogis” should offer the teachings to anyone who asks. “Yoga is for all people,” as they blah blah blah say. I’ve said it myself. So, sure. You got me. Fair enough.
Now, here’s the other side (as regarding the language used in the Oasis lit):
1. Comfort -vs- Access
When a yoga practitioner ventures into the territory of homelessness, poverty, and prisons in order to teach the traditional practice of asana and meditation, this practitioner is making accessible something that was previously not. “Trickle down theory” never trickles, but rather recirculates within the dominant social class. However, when a yoga practitioner offers “yoga, meditation, spa services, and organic food” at the RNC, home to one half of the most powerful and influential possible governments in the world, it’s not about yoga, but about comfort. This is about making people who have every intention of f’ing over every woman on the planet have a comfortable time discussing how best to do so.
2. Idiocy -vs- Making Informed Choices
It’s easy, comforting, and safe to assume that Republicans are idiots. Dumb people are supposed to never win, so it lets people sleep a little better at night if Republicans are perceived as dumb. The truth is, neo-conservatives can be mad smart and read a shit-ton!The things they believe are choices in so much as the things you believe are choices. The people getting their front-bodies opened have chosen, after having access to every ounce of information available, to stand behind and enforce political platforms that if implemented will make your life miserable.
3. Helping Individuals Who Need It -vs- Helping Maintain a Political Platform
If a person comes to me in need of help, be it physical or mental, I attempt to help that person. Whether my method utilizes body-centered work, talk therapy/advice, or both, I believe in helping those who ask to be helped regardless of his/her political persuasion. There is a difference, however, between helping an individual and setting up a Swedish Massage venue for the National Front.
4. Ideas -vs- Actions
If nothing else, this is the real heart of the matter. Ideas are one thing. Ideas attempted to be put into action, especially through the political channels of legislation, is entirely another. The significance of the people Seane Corn & co. are helping to make feel good is not based on a difference in ideology. The people Seane Corn & co. are “adjusting into postural alignment” differ from her because they are attempting to make their ideology legally binding for all Americans. This is not about a conflict of interest. This is about concerted efforts to control others and making efforts to become president in order to best and most efficiently do so. By our standards, the politicians actions are a form of aggression against women, racial minorities, and peoples of varying sexual persuasions other than those defined by hetero-normative society.
In closing, it is the belief of The Babarazzi that Seane Corn’s publicity stunt is one of the greatest and most awesomest fuck-ups mainstream yoga has ever accomplished. Female yoga practitioners lengthening and strengthening the minds and bodies of men, who if given the chance would have the uteri of the women attending them put into a governmental vice, as a form of politicized yoga is laughable, and could only come from the minds of silly heads bent on creating more silly head money.
With (very much appreciated) reporting from Roseanne at It’s All Yoga, Baby.