This month we’re featuring Nick Caleb, a relative newcomer to People’s Yoga, who is taking his practice off of the mat and, hopefully, all the way to City Hall as he’s running for City Council in this month’s election.
How long have you been practicing?
I’ve been practicing for about 4 months, since I found People’s Yoga.
How/why did you start doing yoga?
Friends of mine had told me for years about the benefits of yoga, but I remained skeptical. During the fall and winter of last year, I was very stressed, and decided to finally try yoga as a way of helping with focus and memory. The practice is physically and mentally challenging, but it relaxes me, my body feels fantastic, and my focus has improved.
What’s your favorite thing about People’s?
I love the instructors and the people I’ve met in the last few months. People’s has been extremely welcoming and helpful. Both locations are safe spaces and have served as sanctuaries to me.
You’re running for City Council. In what way does your practice inform your politics?
Yoga helps me approach politics with more calm and empathy. It helps to hone the intuitive and contemplative skills that all human beings need to live in a highly complex and fast-paced world. After a recent class, Audra Carmine joked that government would be a lot more reasonable if our elected officials were doing yoga regularly. I think that this was a very astute observation. Since I’ve been practicing, my ability to endure highly stressful situations has improved while I have become a more grounded and compassionate person. These sorts of positive character developments are extremely important because of the nature of American politics.
Since I’ve been involved in politics, I’ve always been turned off by the fast-paced, aggressive, overly argumentative, reductive, exploitative, and often times inhuman nature of our system. Though I studied law and policy, I’ve been lucky enough to have life experiences out of the political mainstream (working for Vandana Shiva in India, living and earning a Masters in the Netherlands, and being an environmental and social justice activist) that convinced me that our whole way of doing politics has to change if we are to care for the material and emotional needs of working people and the poor (I gave a TEDx talk about this in the Spring of 2011, if you want to hear more). I really do think that yoga shows the way to a more caring and inclusive form of politics.
Yoga is also keeping me sane during the campaign by giving me an activity that calms my mind and allows for the space for meditation when things get overwhelming. I don’t think I could have worked full time, moved, and run for office at the same time if I weren’t exploring yoga.