Whoa: Yoga was just banned in central Russia

If you are a yoga lover and you live in central Russia, life is about to get a whole lot worse. Russia announced earlier today that they are banning all forms of yoga, “in order to prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements,” according to The Moscow Times, and that all practitioners should cease immediately. How are Russian yogis supposed to de-stress after a long week? And an even more important question, “what?”

The city of Nizhnevartovsk in central Russia sent letters to several yoga studios, banning the practice, specifically the practice of Hatha yoga, as a result of a recent crackdown on “cult activities.” To Russian officials, doing yoga has supernatural underpinnings and they don’t want their residents to have any part of it.

Hatha is a yoga practice which emphasizes deep breathing to accompany its physical movements and is primarily what Western yoga-goers practice. It does have its origins in Hindu spiritualism, but is widely accepted as an exercise in flexibility and endurance. In other words, it seems like the city of Nizhnevartovsk is overreacting just a smidge.

In a letter released by First Deputy Head Sergei Lavkin, he suggests yoga is, “inextricably linked to religious practices,” but his opinions don’t really rep Russia as a whole.

In fact, Time cites an incident in which Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov actually recommends doing a little yoga, accompanied with a hearty dose of chill-out. So, maybe its just a central-Russia thing.

It is, however, ironic that the folks in Nizhnevartovsk responsible for banning yoga seem like the ones who need it the most.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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