While we were savasaning, Russian officials went ahead and changed their minds and reversed the yoga ban. Just like that. Maybe they were just kidding about yoga being “inextricably linked to religious practices” and that it could “spread new religious cults.” Maybe they bowed to pressures from the public who thought their fears were unfounded and ridiculous. Or, maybe, a combo of both?
In case you missed it, at least two yoga studios in the city of Nizhnevartovsk recently received letters from government officials telling them to immediately cease their yoga classes to “prevent the spread new religious cults and movements.” Sounds frightening. But the studio owners didn’t take it entirely seriously.
“Everybody is scared and amused,” Inga Pimenova, a yoga teacher at Ingara School, one of the yoga studios to receive a letter, told The Times (UK).
Everyone can stop worrying now, though, because the city’s government has completely backpedaled.
Lyubov Gorodilova, Nizhnevartovsk Public Safety Officer said yoga was “brainwashing,” and not a physical exercise. Once this news hit the Western media, city officials retracted the letter promising to discipline the clerks who sent it out, as if it was all a huge mistake.
Woops. We’re not sure it would have worked anyway. Much like the rest of the world, yoga’s popularity has majorly increased in Russia over the past couple of decades, with more one million currently practicing, according to Russia Beyond the Headlines.
“Yoga has already been practiced and taught for many years in Russia without having been considered a sect,” Pimenova told Russian news source Kommersant.