If you decide to join a packed protest with somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people, I suggest you practice Tādāsana or mountain pose. For three plus hours on Saturday in Washington DC – I practiced Tādāsana while listening to the speakers and observing my fellow marchers in absolute amazement. The creativity of their signs, the variety of their ages and race, the support of men – it blew me away, and I know I was part of something so big it will go down in history.
From the day I heard about the March for Woman in Washington, I felt like I had to be there. And while I was an activist in college, I haven’t marched for anything in 30 years. I raised a family and I’m working full time. I didn’t have much time for politics. But this election has changed things for me. If the March for Women could get even me marching, then this is a movement.
I marched because I want to make sure that we continue to progress with women’s rights (equal pay, access to health care, workplace equality), to keep strong fight against climate change, to preserve our hard fought LBGQT rights, and equal rights for all people. I wanted to march peacefully. I wanted to do some actions that would cause change (like working with my local elected officials). In addition, I wanted to respect and better understand my friends that are Trump supporters.
So on Friday I joined my daughter and we attended the tail end of the Inaugural Celebration in Washington D.C. It was a pageant – the marching bands, cheer leading squads, military bands – it was beautiful. And while I did not vote for President Trump, I marveled at the peaceful transfer of power that my children take for granted. And if Donald Trump attempts to achieve some of the causes he spoke about (affordable child care for women, rebuilding infrastructure, and supporting the middle class), I and Elizabeth Warren will be right behind him.
The streets in D.C. as the inauguration wound down were filled with tension. A large group of protesters dressed all in black started burning trash bins all at once. The police descended upon the area in an intimidating show of force, shooting tear gas and pepper spray with a cavalry of back up on motorcycles loudly filling in from behind. The D.C. law enforcement was ready for anything. We saw a young man later walking around in a daze asking “Do you know where the Metro is?” with eyes badly burned red, carrying a new poster by the Obama Hope artist. As we walked back from the celebration, we saw some protestors taunt Trump supporters (who were clad in red). This particular family – a mom and dad and a young man – yelled back loudly calling them “cupcakes” and taunting them to fight and “I dare you to fight me in front of my mother”. While it looked like it was going to escalate, thankfully it did not.
We left the city feeling scared but hopeful about the March on Saturday. I had several yogini-friends coming in on busses including my college roommate. I had no hope of find them the next day.
As we headed out Saturday to the Metro from Virginia, it was packed. The train was so full, you could sense the conductors nervousness, “This train is very very packed”, he kept saying. When we exited the train, the platform was so full you could barely move. The Metro is deep underground with escalators and they were a bottleneck for getting people out of the station. It took almost a half hour to get out which is normally a two minute walk. People were on edge.
As we arrived, we could not get very close to the rally stage so we went back where it wasn’t as crowded and there was a large screen where we could watch the rally. That area soon filled in so tight all I could do was stand in Tādāsana. I spent three hours listening intently while I was lifted from the inside, inspired by the music and speeches. My back didn’t hurt and my legs didn’t hurt. Tādāsana is the perfect political rally pose. The energy of the crowd was able to lift me from the outside.
To get a sense of the crowd, see this video on second “-24” … in the lower left corner there is a bus stop structure. We are just to the right of that.
Some of us were starting to get exhausted and claustrophobic so after about three hours, we had to make our way out. We followed a couple that was carrying a baby and the crowd made way for us. While we thought the crowd would thin out it didn’t. We got to the mall and the crowd was still as thick as ever. We got to the opposite side of the mall and finally we could move our arms! We went into a museum for some respite from the weather and to regenerate. An hour later when we went outside, we saw what seemed like a ten-block radius with no traffic and marches everywhere, marching and chanting. As we got near the white house, we saw a large group of marchers packed in and chanting.
I have never seen anything like it.
The next day we visited the mall which was still filled with marchers but marchers just reflecting and walking around.
I am committed to doing the 10 actions in 100 days! And practicing Tādāsana to keep me grounded yet reaching for the sky.