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Oh Russia, you never fail to leave us ever so slightly gobsmacked. Today we’ve learned that one of our favourite exercises, something that centres us, calms us and keeps us healthy and flexible (it even slows down your brain’s aging process) is now banned in central Russia, in a bid to ‘stifle the spread of occultism’. Yep, you’re not allowed get your Downward Dog or Warrior pose on for fear that the practice of yoga could ‘spread new religious cults and movements’.
Unfortunately for the owners of several Hatha yoga studios in the city of Nizhnevartovsk, they’ve been forced to close up shop and forego their business opportunities after receiving stern letters ordering them to stop as of immediately. This news comes via Moscow Times.
To us yoga may be as simple as a physical unwind after a stressful day – and Hatha yoga specifically focuses on deep breathing and slow movements – but to Russian leaders, it possesses an ‘occult character’, and is ‘inextricably linked to religious practices.’
Nizhnevartovsk’s First Deputy Head Sergei Levkin has made it very clear to the head of social and youth policy, Marianna Parfenova, that all necessary measures are taken to put an end to the practice of yoga.
The one piece of information we’re missing, rather worryingly, is what happens to someone caught perched in the lotus pose? As yoga enthusiasts ‘Mind Body Green’ ironically suggest, perhaps yoga is the one thing these Russians need more of.
Note to self, do not book flights to Nizhnevartovsk anytime soon.