This week, Yoga For Vets founder Paul Zipes is going to teach classes at the RNC, as part of Huffington Post and Yoga Off The Mat’s offerings to the political process.
To appear non-partisan, they’ll also be teaching at the DNC as well. The inclusion is seen as a victory by those who might consider themselves to be a little smarter, wiser, and more spiritually attuned. And it follows on the tails of absolutes such as, “Everyone should do yoga,” “All veterans should do yoga,” “Yoga will save the world.”
Neither Jillian and I for absolutes. Yoga has to be a choice. I hope the yoga mats are spread out next to the food vendors, the guys selling t-shirts in red, white, and blue, book sellers, and all assorted RNC regalia. I hope it smells like corndogs and bacon. In other words, the best case scenario is that it’s just one of many things people can choose to do.
As we’ve said before, different boats for different folks. Some might want to try yoga, or maybe they just to mix it up with their fellow Republicans while they are there. Frankly, we don’t care one way or another, and we hope the yogis don’t run around like over-eager cheerleaders. In other words, we hope they mellow out. A yoga class at the RNC is (in the large scope of things) not going to make that much of a difference. The reason I bring this up, is to make clear neither Jillian or I see yoga as the panacea for the world’s ills, and to underscore the importance of choice.
As for veterans, some might really like yoga, others might like to climb a mountain, pilot a boat, fish, dance, do art or write. It’s up to them, and I can’t say one is better than the other. If what our men and women fought for was freedom, then they deserve a wide array of choices.
Choice is everything. We don’t support a point of view that makes yoga a “lifestyle choice” and comes redolent with a patched together hybridized religion, or political ideology. We don’t think mala beads are better than a rosary. WarRetreat isn’t about changing anyone, as much as it is to accept the individual as they are, helping them find resources so they can reconnect with themselves, and letting veterans and families discover enough about themselves to experience their own transformation and trusting them with it.
The only thing missing from this year’s RNC will be Andrew Breitbart, a fine person to spend an afternoon with, watching him roller skate around a rally for the troops, waving my Army flag. I can hear him now: “Yoga? At the RNC? I love it. Let me get my skates on.”