8 Reasons to Send Our Next Prez to Yoga Teacher Training

Posted on in On Our Radar by Suzi Rice


Considering the diversity of our people and the state of our union, why isn’t yoga teacher training (YTT) compulsory for elected leaders? Most teacher trainees concur: the in-depth training forced them to “get real” and look within. The training improved their focus and worldview and taught them to better live in alignment. With the November elections coming up, I look at our candidates and wonder whether teacher trainees holding themselves to the eight limbs of yoga would have more to offer than either Clinton or Trump when it comes to accountability and our constitutional ideals. I truly want to respect our leaders, but until yogis run for office, here’s why we need yoga in the Oval Office.

  1. Yoga Means “Union.” The US was founded on the principles of unification. “We the people” is invoked in the State of the Union address, but our country is harmfully divided by the vicious bipartisan system. From YTT our next prez would know that mind, body, and spirit are connected. Don’t the candidates realize we’re fundamentally the same and in this together? While Americans diverge in socioeconomic class, culture, language, belief systems, and priorities, we breathe the same air and cohabit the same planet. We’re all on the path.
  2. The Yamas: A Moral Code. Our society was forged on the Golden Rule. Our candidates are vying for highest office and trying to impress us with how presidential they are, but then immediately interrupt each other with insults. The five yamas are ahimsa (nonviolence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (not stealing), bramacharya (continence), and aparigraha (non-coveting), providing a superb moral code. Imagine how more protected we’d feel as a nation if these were observed.
  3. The Niyamas: Personal accountability.
    In conjunction with the yamas, the five niyamas: shaucha (purification), samtosha (contentment), tapas (asceticism), svadhyaya (self-study), and ishvara pranidhana (devotion) provide steady rules by which individuals should hold themselves accountable. From YTT the candidates know to look within, where all eventually comes to light. Masking our problems by looking outward is fruitless. Our candidates point the finger, blame, reframe, rebrand, and say whatever it takes to get votes. But what are they doing as individuals to speak in authentic, responsible voices and balance the greater good?
  4. The Kleshas: the Causes of Suffering. Patanjali documented five kleshas (afflictions) as the prime causes of suffering. The first is asmita (I-am-ness), which is overidentification with the ego. In YTT we learn that our self-image is not really us—and we’re warned not to become trapped in our own projections. On TV all we see is ego and attachment. Who would Hillary be if she weren’t so ambitiously set on becoming the first woman president? Who would Trump be if he were not “Trump”—saying things like “I alone can fix it”?
  5. Ayurveda: making holistic health a priority. The ancient wisdom Ayurveda (the science of life) extolled preventive practices for balanced health. When we look past the make-up and aerosol hairspray, the dyes, the jowls, the paunches, and the comb-overs, do we see a picture of health? Wouldn’t it be nice to select a leader who looks physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit? Candidates, please take care of yourselves before professing to take care of us.
  6. Asana: A solid foundation. The physical practice of hatha yoga teaches us to connect with our breath and body. It is designed to tone the physical system as well as calm and focus the mind for meditation and higher purposes. Maybe if our candidates spent more time on their sticky mats tuning into their own bodies and minds, they’d be better able to listen and address our country’s issues.
  7. Pranayama: Breathing fully. The ancient practices of pranayama (breath control) would do wonders for supporting the health of our next president. Pranayama assists with emotional regulation and calms the central nervous system. When our breath is calm, our life is calm and centered, which would help America reflect better as a nation. In YTT we learn that mental health begins with full, deep belly breath and that anxiety occurs from shallow breathing.
  8. Shavasana: Relaxation and self-care. At the end of yoga class, we relax into Shavasana—an essential non-pose. And while presidential campaigning leaves little time for rest, what if decaffeinated meditation breaks were part of the routine instead of frowned upon. The mere sight of Donald or Hillary on a meditation cushion would be collectively restorative. If our leaders felt the importance of such practices, our nation would benefit.

As citizens, we’re concerned about November, but we also need to witness our own egos and stay centered. We learn in YTT that everything happens for our spiritual awakening, but we can still pray that our candidates will register for YTT and align with the Eightfold Path. In the meantime, am going to brace into warrior pose and pretend I am not watching the food fight scene in Animal House.

Suzi Rice is a holistic health coach and yoga teacher whose passion is guiding individuals in alignment. Her political commentary is inspired by TV and YTT. SuziRice.com

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