Monday, September 10, 2012

5 Reasons Politicians Should Practice Yoga



I’m going to share with you a little dream I have (I hope President Obama and Mitt Romney are reading): That politicians will spend less time pointing fingers and cutting deals and more time self-reflecting, breathing, and stretching.

Why should politicians do yoga? Here are just 5 reasons:

1. Make better decisions. Lobbyists, businessmen and women, members of their party, and  constituents all try to persuade politicians to vote in a particular way. I’m sure it can be hard to discern what’s right and wrong at times. I believe yoga helps you to make better decisions because by learning to listen to your body’s intuition, you also become more in touch with your authentic self and learn to listen (and trust) your own truth.

2. Cultivate Compassion. Empathy and compassion are vitally important attributes for our elected
officials because they are responsible for making decisions for so many different people. As yoga students learn to be more aware of their own bodies and actions, they often notice they’re able to more easily put themselves in others’ shoes.
 
3. Manage Stress. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress politicians feel on a day-to-day basis. Most of us feel incredible stress just having the responsibilities of our work and family lives. Elected officials carry the burden of a community, state, or the whole country on their shoulders. That’s a lot of pressure. A regular yoga practice helps keep stress at bay so you can focus on doing your job!

4. Model a Healthy Lifestyle. Health care might be one of the biggest issues of this election in a lot of places. No matter where you stand on the issue, you can’t deny that we’d all be better off if we stayed healthier to begin with. If more elected officials did yoga (and/or maintained a healthy lifestyle), it would send a message that healthy lifestyle is important. Two sayings come to mind: Actions speak louder than words. And practice what you preach. Just sayin’!

5. Ethics. The yamas (truthfulness, non-harming, non-stealing, greedlessness, and sexual responsibility) are important principles that yoga students try to live by. But really they’re just a basic code of ethics. Does practicing yoga immediately turn you into a better person? No. Are all yoga practitioners upstanding moral people? Nope. But I do believe that the practice of yoga gives you more tools for self-reflection and a clearer view of your impact in the world. And I think that makes you want to be a better person.

This post was adapted from a post on my blog at YogaJournal.com.