Summary List Placement
The year had already been painfully exhausting. Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s Boston area district had been hit hard and early by COVID, and staffers were at home, working online, easily 18 hours a day, her chief of staff Sarah Groh said.
Then came the January 6th Capitol insurrection. Groh and Pressley were among those taking cover in a House safe room when pro-Trump rioters stormed their workplace taunting and threatening to harm and kill the likes of then-Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pressley’s staffers felt threatened. They needed space to process the events. That’s where Downward-facing Dog comes in.
In the immediate aftermath, Groh arranged an online session for the Democratic congresswoman’s office with Reggie Hubbard, an Ivy League progressive activist turned yogi, who has been helping his friends on Capitol Hill and in politics heal through yoga, meditation, and when the moment calls for it, the music of Prince.
“It was one of the first times that I had allowed myself to unpack some of the, just, stress I’d been holding and emotions from that day,” she told Insider. “He’s like, ‘roll your shoulders back and unclench your jaw’ and you’re like, wow, I’ve needed to do that for 72 hours.”
DC insiders are known for their demanding schedules, but a year made even more punishing by the pandemic, police brutality and protests, a wild election cycle and an insurrection forced some to search for new ways to relieve stress and restore their upended sense of community.
Rep. Andy Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, held retreats and offered mental health days. Pressley’s office allowed multiple periods of unlimited time off and encouraged counseling. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan brought in a therapist for her staff — and recently took personal time off, she said, to decompress.
For their offices and others on …read more