Yoga’s popularity has been felt across all fabrics of American life. The private sector has successfully commercialized its products and services. The social sector is developing infrastructure to positively impact the lives of people that might need contemplative practices most, but can access it least.
The yoga community will need a growing network of advocates inside and outside of government that champion the possible synergy of the public sector and services in yoga, meditation, and mindfulness.
The yoga service community could offer the public sector the capacity to bring a volume of program services that will combat stress and trauma, and build more resilient people, communities, and systems.
One must come to this conversation as a healthy and happy individual to be well-positioned to share yoga, meditation, and mindfulness with government in a way that positively affects public health, public education, and public safety.
There are some challenges and difficult questions to consider when applying yoga service to government and policy.
Why would our services take up the programs and resources of government over other budget and policy priorities? Is there a cohesive vision, as well as desired outcomes to enlist city, state, and federal governing bodies to support them? As people, yoga service providers must be willing and able to address government funding and policy with patience, strategy, and flexibility.
For example, we can’t expect elected and government leaders to adopt our language of mindful, healthy, and happy individuals. Most likely, it will sound foreign and alien to them, despite the likelihood they could benefit from it.
A good deal of our current advocacy could be to explain what yoga is and is not to the public sector. For example, recently a local governing office expressed that their impression of yoga was some sort of religion. In the same way we wish to educate and offer the public the opportunity for mindful practices, the yoga service community will benefit from learning more about how the process and language of governance works.
For instance, do we understand the procurement, legislative calendars, and policy dynamics of operating and working with government? It is important to continue our work in the yoga service community, while asking the difficult question of how we will relate to the public sector.
We can begin to share the right inputs, interventions, and outcomes that the public sector desires to see when spending public money and changing public policy. It won’t be linear. It could be fragmented. The shared and collective cause and vision for bringing yoga services to those who need it most, and have access to it least, needs a thoughtful approach that explores realistic possibilities within the volatile context of a representative government.
Henry Cross joined Hosh Yoga in 2011 as a yoga teacher. He has developed the organizational, program, and financial capacity of the nonprofit to deliver self-sustaining and self-supporting health and wellness services to over 4,000 children, adults, and seniors every month. Since 2014, he has been expanding programming via policy and funding for the Sonima Foundation as Community Relations Director.
Henry’s work has been featured by the Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, Blog Talk Radio, The NYC Social Innovation Festival, Social Venture Institute, and multiple Brooklyn and Queens newspapers. He finds joy in his community work service everyday, and strives to make the Hosh Foundation one of the premier nonprofit studio and yoga service brands of the United States.
Please Note: The views expressed in YSC blog posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the YSC, its directors, officers, or members.