I have a political hangover this morning. Anyone else?
I was hopeful going into Election night. I hoped that the blue wave would be a tsunami. I believed that the good guys had a real chance of winning, even despite voter suppression and bad weather on election day.
I believed that hope was going to overcome the fear and hatred that has motivated white voters for so long.
Although last night was a night of huge firsts, the future is uncertain.
To say I am nervous is an understatement.
To say I am hopeful is an understatement.
The future hangs in the balance.
My future. My children’s future. Their children’s future.
I am trying to centered, grounded, and remember my inner strength.
It’s not easy. This whole week has been tough and unsettling.
In just 1 week, there were 3 mass shootings in public spaces. One happened at a grocery store, one happened at a synagogue, and the most recent at a yoga studio just 3 hours from my home. All of these massacres were committed by angry, white, right-wing men.
In the weeks leading up to this election and these shootings, we’ve witnessed a corrupt judge named to the Supreme Court despite a surge of protests and pleas to prevent his confirmation.
We’ve seen lawmakers ignoring their constituents.
We’ve witnessed voter suppression in real time.
We’ve watched as people seeking asylum in our country are treated like criminals. Separated from their children. The children sent to tent prisons. Some kids already “placed” with American families, instead of reunited with their own families. Others are required to represent themselves in court, some as young as 3 years old.
In the past 2 years, we’ve seen so many protections for vulnerable populations overturned. We’ve seen so many environmental protections removed. And all along the way, the administration is trying to gaslight us, pretending they’re actually making the world a better place.
When times get tough, I turn to yoga.
Not because I think that if we just do more downward facing dogs, we’ll solve all of the world’s problems. I don’t. Yoga poses don’t vote or make laws or work on solving climate change.
But practicing yoga poses does help me build community and connect to something bigger than myself.
Doing handstands might not change the minds of politicians, but trying hard things on my yoga mat will change my mind about myself.
Doing backbends of all kinds might not radically change the world, but opening my heart on the daily might make me more compassionate.
And even aside from all of those possibilities, practicing yoga has always been about expanding consciousness. One of the primary ideas in yoga is in becoming more aware of myself and my place in the world. Recognizing that my actions, no matter how small, matter.
This is why I practice.
This is also why I teach.
This is why I turn to yoga for difficult times in my life.
I don’t expect the yoga to fix anything.
I expect the yoga to help me connect with myself more. Pay closer attention. Listen more deeply.
I look to yoga to help me create an anchor for myself. If I can remember that I am strong and capable and human and whole, even when some crazy shit threatens to knock me off balance, I know exactly where to come back to.
I use my yoga practice to remind me that even when the world seems scary and full of hate, I can still choose to be brave. I can still choose love.
My yoga practice helps me to see beyond my own personal experience because we are all connected. What impacts someone else impacts me, too.
At the end of the day, the yoga I do on my mat is never as important as the yoga I live in the world. But getting on my mat every day helps me live my yoga with more of a clear and centered truth.
The elections might not always go the way we want them to go.
Our actions still matter.
I hope this reminds you that yoga is not just what you do on your mat. You can use yoga as a catalyst to create greater change in your life and in the world.
The future might be uncertain, but the world I woke up in today is far better than it was yesterday. I have hope for the future.
Today I woke up, rolled out my yoga mat, and moved my body. I did yoga, I danced, I cried a little, and I breathed.
I thought back over the 19 years that I have practiced yoga. My physical practice has changed quite a lot. I used to be bendier and now I am stronger.
In nearly 2 decades of practices, what has remained consistent and steady is my commitment to creating change in myself and the world. What has grown is my awareness of my impact in the world.
My inner awareness has shifted and grown, too. Yoga has helped me navigate parenthood with a little more grace and a lot more consciousness. The lessons that I have learned in yoga have given me a broader view of the world and an even deeper desire to be a force of good within it.
So tomorrow I will get on my mat again, too. And the next day. And the day after that.
I hope you will, too.
And if you need a yoga practice to help support you and reconnect you to your inner strength, enjoy this yoga practice. I recorded it the day of the shooting at the yoga studio, before we knew anything had happened. I recorded it with the election in mind, knowing that no matter what happened, we still have a long way to go.
Please use this practice to find your center of support within.