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Do All Yogis Vote Alike?

A Midnight Yoga class at D.C.'s Flow Fitness. (Mark Finkenstaedt For The Washington Post)

As devoted as I am to my yoga practice, I try not to talk (or write) about it all the time, mostly because I'm not sure anyone's all that interested in hearing about my yogic journey - and because I don't want to be one of those people who insists that everyone else try yoga. If you're meant to discover it, I believe you will. (And I sincerely hope you do.)

But as I sat on my mat in meditation today, it occurred to me that part of what I value most about yoga is my fellow yogis. They're a varied bunch, men and women who have consistently opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and exposed me to views I might never have considered.

So I was taken aback by this item in a blog on the Yoga Journal Web site:

Hip-hop artist, clothing designer, and yoga practitioner Russell Simmons says President Obama is coming from a yogic mind set, especially when it comes to his policies. Instead of being fearful, he listens and reaches out to others, Simmons said. "He's an inspiration to the whole yoga community," Simmons told the politico.comPolitico podcast, which you can listen to at "I'm sure they voted 90 percent for him."

Simmons's comment occurred near the end of a segment in which the interviewer peppered Simmons with a series of quick questions. Simmons noted that in many respects Obama seems a very yogic president. Then, off-handedly, he made his comment about yogis voting.

Simmons seems like a reasonable, well-meaning man. But if you take him to mean that more than 90 percent of yoga practitioners probably voted for Obama, well, I have issues with that.

It's dangerous -- and, I might add, not very yogic -- to assume that the yoga community is so homogeneous that 9 out of 10 of its members voted for the same presidential candidate. Simmons's comment, casual as it may have been, suggests a certain narrow-mindedness and lack of equanimity that I hope is not really characteristic of him -- or of the broader yoga community.

What's your view? Is yoga primarily the province of one bloc of voters?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 20, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  General Health , Nutrition and Fitness  
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Well, one of the foundations of Yoga is Ahimsa - non - violence, so I'm guessing the warmongers would not be the favorits on Yogis and Yoginis lists.

I am a Yogini and proudly supported and voted for Barrack Obama.

Posted by: DianeMaria1 | April 20, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I think the caption may be in error. Should it be midnight flow at DC's Flow Yoga Center?

Posted by: olita_the_otter | April 20, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

There is probably some truth to it. In the same way that Christian Fundamentalists vote overwhelmingly Republican, those who practice a yogic lifestyle (and not those who simply take the occasional Yoga class at Bally's) will likely see those values most reflected in the Democratic party, at least in this past election cycle.

Part of the Yoga lifestyle however is free thinking; I doubt the Democratic Party will every be able to count on the "Yoga vote" to be as loyal as the Christian Right is to Republicans.

Posted by: bidalah | April 20, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing that 75% of all yoga practitioners voted Obama.

Posted by: rs12 | April 20, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Not 90%, but yes, I'd say the large majority.

I can't see at all how this would be a "dangerous" viewpoint to have, as the author suggests. Just a different one than hers.

Posted by: sarahabc | April 20, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Can't say that I agree with the author either. There are certain principles endemic to yoga, and those principles happen to be more central to the philosophy of one party than the other. It's that simple. Is it 90%? Probably not, but it's reasonable to think that it would be a fairly high number.

Posted by: g-man | April 20, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to link yoga with the intention to vote, I personally do not think that a given year will motivate us to choose a president, or if Obama was such a situation.
Herbal Remedies

Posted by: HerbalRemedies | April 21, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

These are great comments. I teach yoga and my students are a varied bunch with all sorts of different interests and viewpoints. Certainly no where near 90% of them voted for Obama. However, I'm not sure one who practices yoga once a week with just a general interest or enjoyment of yoga would consider themselves a "yogi." A yogi is someone who is proficient in yoga. Someone who studies, and practices yoga more than once in a while with a deep interest in the philosophy as well as the physical practice. If this is your definition of a yogi - then yes, I'm sure at least 90% voted for Obama, for the reasons other people stated.

Posted by: aloha2 | April 22, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Aloha2. But, I can imagine someone having voted for McCain because they felt he had the wisdom gathered during a long life, and such wisdom is important in today's world. On the third hand, McCain never seemed to be balanced like Obama. Could you imagine anyone like McCain emerging from an ashram?

Posted by: Kili | April 25, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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