Yoga Poses for Relieving Back Pain and Fighting Voter Suppression

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You too could be this relaxed.

Work these gracefully linked asanas into your daily routine to improve flexibility and assure that your vote is counted in the 2020 presidential election.

Begin in Mountain Pose. Planting your feet shoulder-width apart, inhale. This is basically just standing, but it’s good practice for the long lines forming at polling locations, which Republicans are hoping will dissuade you from voting. Exhale.

Bend slowly towards your feet. Standing Forward Fold your absentee ballot neatly into a postmarked envelope. Inhale. Be precise in your motions (especially with your signature). Exhaling, reach further with your hands, feeling the stretch in your legs. Republicans are not as flexible as you, especially when it comes to invalidating mail-in ballots.

As you lunge into Worrier I, concentrate on your form, and not on the anti-democratic rhetoric and conspiracy mongering the White House has been spouting of late. Torque your hips forward, and try not to despair about Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. Extending your arms and shifting into Worrier II, push away thoughts of Trump stealing the election through the Supreme Court, where his partisan nominee will likely be presiding. Exhale.

Stretch up into Upward Salute, reaching your hands high above your head. Push yourself, reaching so high that the census counters will notice you and add your name to their ledgers before the Trump administration’s politically-motivated decision to end the census early takes effect later this month.

Keeping your back straight, sink into Chair Pose, preferably near your computer. Inhale. Maintaining your form, register to vote. Your legs may begin to burn, but hold this pose until you know if your state offers early voting. Sinking lower into the pose, track your ballot online. Exhale.

Inhale. Rise upward again into Tree Pose. Remember trees? It’s what we used to have instead of fires in California. To help you balance, focus on the climate catastrophe that would be the sure result of a second term for the Trump administration. Exhale and, thinking of the trees, vote.

Concentrating on the voter suppression happening in Alabama, inhale, and bend into Downward Facing Doug Jones. Reach further — into your wallet — and donate to democratic campaigns in red states. This is a difficult pose, but see if you can’t transition those polls into Upward Facing Doug Jones.

Exhaling, chaturanga up into Cobra, which is the health coverage you will have to learn about if Trump is reelected and congress repeals the Affordable Care Act. Arch your back upward as far as it will go, as though you don’t have a spine at all, like Senator Lindsey Graham.

Recline back into Boat Pose. Executed correctly, this pose should target your abdominal muscles, which you may need if your attempt to exercise your democratic right to vote results in a physical confrontation with the Republican-encouraged poll watchers that may be hostilely occupying your polling location.

If you can, transition into a Wall-Assisted Headstand (advanced). Inhaling, wait for the blood to rush to your head, and then consider if Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s recent budget cuts are as shameless and obvious an attempt to sabotage the election as they seem. They are. Exhale.

Return your feet to the floor, collapsing into Child’s Pose. From your limp position on the ground, inhale. Flexing your tear ducts so as not to weep, channel your inner child and recall a more innocent time when you did not have to worry about fake ballot boxes in California, limited ballot drop-off locations in Texas, resurgent poll tax efforts in Florida, legislation restricting early voting in Wisconsin, and the reinstatement of a ballot witness requirement in South Carolina. Exhale.

Shift backward into Lotus Position, joining your hands prayerfully. Focus on your breathing, paying close attention to the rhythms of your breath so as to be aware of disturbances that might be symptomatic of the COVID-19 virus, which the current administration has failed to control and which exacerbates the stakes of the upcoming election. Meditate on your voting plan. Namaste.

Graduate student and writer currently living in Washington, DC.

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