Yoga and Politics – it’s not such a stretch of the imagination…..
Yoga, to the uninitiated, looks gentle, calm and serene. But like a lot of things the image of yoga can be very misleading. A bit like a swan gliding gracefully across the surface, but paddling like fury underneath, there is more to yoga than meets the eye, and much of it very relevant to politics.
To the best of my knowledge, I am the first parliamentary candidate who is also a qualified yoga teacher. Admittedly, when I tell people this their first reaction is to treat it as something of a joke. “So, does that mean you’re standing for Parliament…..on one leg?” Little do they know. Yoga and politics have a lot more in common than they think.
For instance, toughness. Yoga isn’t easy, it’s hard on the body and creates an attitude of constant improvement; pushing yourself to your limit day after day. Yoga also promotes mental strength and agility, very useful for those late night debates in Parliament.
To practise yoga, you also have to be ruthlessly self-disciplined and honest with yourself (and I’m not talking about when MPs are filling out their expenses) but applying oneself to a routine and sticking to it. Many people associate yoga with suppleness, but please don’t mistake that for being easily swayed. On the contrary, yoga demands levels of mental concentration and intensity seldom found elsewhere. The most determined people I know all practice yoga.
And last but by no means least, yoga helps keep you fit. MPs have very busy lives, hectic schedules, huge workloads and they need to have the necessary physical fitness and energy levels to cope. Top sportspeople like Andy Murray and Manchester United footballer, Ryan Giggs, practise yoga. Giggs swears by it and says yoga is what has kept him playing at the highest level as the Premier League’s oldest player, and by some margin.
All this leads me to think that perhaps the question shouldn’t be can a yoga teacher make a good MP, but would we have better government if more MPs did a little bit of yoga?
Davy performed a longer version of this talk at the Catalyst Club, the Latest Bar, in March 2014. You can watch it here on Youtube: http://youtu.be/h_kA1QYD9No