George Washington, The Yogi
Yoga Transcends Boundaries
Much can be said about George Washington- he led the Colonial armies to victory in the revolutionary war, helped form a new kind of government, and became the first president of the United States.
The man did more in one lifetime than many could do in five.
But that isn’t the only story to Washington; he didn’t just help in these world changing events, he actually molded them into reality with the strength of his character. It’s safe to say that without his example and humility, there wouldn’t have been a victory or United States…much less a presidency.
There is a special name that can be given to people like Washington, whether they are aware of it or not: a yogi.
Surprised? Don’t be.
Washington, like so many inspiring people throughout history, easily fit into the framework and philosophy of the yoga lifestyle.
Not convinced? These two stories might change your mind.
Humility- Performing Sacrifice
Washington was an intense man…and someone that believed strongly in the ideals of freedom.
So much so, that he led the colonial armies for 8 years without taking a leave of absence.
But even after the war was won, things were not exactly rosy. The newly formed government, having just beaten the most powerful army in the world, had very little money.
They simply could not pay their debts…not even their troops.
This became a serious topic, as many of the troops were without pay for years. There were rumors and threats of mutiny.
This would have potentially spelled doom for infant government.
Washington hastily called his officers together to discuss the issue and calm the situation. In preparation, he wrote a speech.
As he read the speech, Washington began to stumble over the words. There was a pause; Washington pulled out a pair of glasses.
“Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in the service of my country, and now find myself growing blind.”
Recognizing Washington’s sacrifice, many of the officers began to fight back tears.
The officers later voted to give congress more time.
This simple act of humility prevented mutiny, and saved the fledgling democracy in it’s infancy; without such a display, it is very feasible there wouldn’t be any United States.
After the war, Washington was a national hero.
He had the affection of the nation, and easily won 2 presidencies after the formation of the United States.
Washington’s presidency was new- that meant that many of the things we take for granted today were simply not established then. There were no boundaries.
Washington was keenly aware of his position of authority, and his affect upon the general population.
He had every opportunity to take advantage of his position as president and turn it into a democratic dictatorship.
But he didn’t.
Instead, Washington treated the position as an opportunity to set an example; often times relinquishing power when he could have taken more.
The best example of this is his length of office. Washington could have easily stayed in office until his death. But recognizing that his actions would be a standard bearer, he gave up his title after his second term in office.
At that time, in that cultural setting, the act of walking away from power was unheard of.
from his exit speech:
“In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable.”
Humble until the end.
A President Worth Remembering
It’s safe to say that Washington was a unique and powerful individual…but his traits go beyond that.
His life service towards the goal of democracy and freedom are a powerful example of yogic qualities, even if he wasn’t technically practicing yoga.
Without such traits, the formation of a historical and radical government such as ours would have never taken place.
Quite simply, democracy and freedom owe a great deal of debt to not only his virtues, but also the qualities that all yogis embody.
I wish we could put in more stories here, but there are simply too many examples of these traits.
If you would like to read more stories of Washington, click here.
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