How Does Yoga Affect Policy?
Over the past 6 months, I have committed myself to answering the following questions: What is the yoga community? What are the values that define us? And what is our role in society? And through a bit of research and a lot of talking to people, here is what I have found.
As a community, we are defined by our commitment to mindful living — to our practice, to reducing our carbon footprint, to buying locally and organically, to cultivating personal spirituality and to consuming ethically. The yoga community is part of an emerging mindful generation passionately engaged in the process of trying to live a good life that is also good for others and the earth.
This community is 20 million people strong and growing and you can see the signs of it everywhere. There are nearly 10,000 regularly operating farmers markets in the United States, a $30 billion per year organic food business, 2.5 million hybrid cars on the road and 24,000 yoga studios operating across the country. The yoga community has been at the center of all of these trends.
Our community is 75% female clustered in the age range from 25 – 44. 90% have a college degree and the average household income is near $80,000 per year. What the mid-90′s called the “soccer mom” is now the “yoga mom” or, in political speak, the independent female voter — one of the nation’s most sought after voting blocks and the group of people that determine nearly every national election.
The yoga community has already impacted society largely through their pocketbook — changing the complexion of the consumer marketplace. Companies, big and small, have adapted what they sell and how they market in direct response to conscious consumerism. Whether its Toyota’s commitment to hybrid cars or Wal-mart’s 600 organic skus or the local organic tea shop or small-batch chocolatier, the young adult female consumer has changed the marketplace forever. Even Coke and Pepsi are embattled in the race to develop the first 100% plant-based bottle.
However, there are massive problems confronting us. Over 30% of our population is obese leading to record levels of chronic disease — diabetes and heart disease. We spend $4,300 per person on health care in the United States – the most in the world – yet we rank #37 in life expectancy. We are responsible for over 25% of the overall world’s carbon emissions.
The values deeply embedded within our community are inextricably tied to the most salient issues of our time. Is there a group of people in the world that can speak with more credibility and authenticity about health and wellness, about what we should and should not eat, about how to live more environmentally? I think not.
So, when health care policy or food policy or environmental policy is being made, then the yoga community needs a seat at that table. Our voice needs to be heard.
While I do not think that it is mandatory for the yoga community to become involved in politics. It is absolutely necessary that we become involved in policy.
The big vision is this. We build a network across 24,000 yoga studio where 20,000 million can communicate, get informed and express themselves — a network that can organize small groups, sign petitions, get measures on ballots and support policies that are aligned with our core values. Imagine a mindful voting block that can influence policy on both local and national levels. The Evangelicals imagined such a movement and networked their “studios” (churches) with the same goal of building a powerful, unified voice that could reflect their values. We can do it, too.
To learn more, please visit http://www.yogavotes.org
Jeff Krasno received his BA in 1993 from Columbia University and after working for RCA records for 3 years, co-founded Velour Music Group. In 2002, with inspiration from the yoga community and his yogi wife Schuyler, Jeff created the concept for Wanderlust – an event combining music festival with large-scale yoga retreat. Now in its third year, Wanderlust has become the largest series of yoga events in the world. This past fall, Jeff & Schuyler opened another Kula studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn close to Velour/Wanderlust HQ.
By Jeff Krasno, creator of Wanderlust