Putin-asana? Wait, did yoga just get a glowing endorsement from Russia’s most virile and intolerant leader? In a showing of uncharacteristic fallibility, Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted to India’s Narendra Modi that he’s never tried yoga (never?!) but that he would finally face it boldly and give it a go (and conquer it handsomely, obviously, because that’s just what he does). Via The New York Times:
“I have tried many things, but never yoga, but it cannot fail to attract,” Mr. Putin told Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India during a meeting in the southern Russian city of Ufa, according to a transcript on the presidential website.
Mr. Putin expressed admiration for yoga after Mr. Modi thanked him for the enthusiasm with which International Yoga Day — which Mr. Modi helped inaugurate on June 21 — was greeted in Russia.
We guess he didn’t hear about that recent oopsie-daisy in the city of Nizhnevartovsk where they banned yoga for half a minute “to prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements,” and then reversed the ban.
Why hadn’t Putin tried yoga before? Former President/current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been a fan for a while. Apparently even Putin has been put off by flexi yogis pulling fancy poses, so he says.
“I will see what my level of fitness allows,” Putin told Mr. Modi. “But when you see real yogis, it seems that it would be impossible to reach that kind of skill, and that’s what stops me.”
Says the man with a black belt in judo. Don’t let Instagram scare you away, Poot. Remember, it’s a practice.
So, why now? The sudden yoga-ffirmation does seem a little suspicious from Russia’s shirt-eschewing poster boy of machismo who seems less inclined to do anything that might potentially threaten his tough guy persona, even if it is a cliche. Then again, we live in a political world, and yoga, unfortunately, has become twisted into a political platform.
Mr. Putin has been going to great lengths to prove that Western efforts to isolate Russia over the Ukraine crisis have failed. So if he can pivot to Asia, why not throw in a headstand as well?
His meeting with Mr. Modi actually came as part of two summit meetings Russia is hosting simultaneously in Ufa that are meant to show, among other things, that Russia has friends.
Oh, ok. Yeah. Not surprising.
But, politics aside, we have to give in to our crazy and wonder what kind of yoga Putin will practice?? Oh, the mind races. Will it involve horses? Or bears? Or motorcycles?
We’ll just have to wait for the photos…and the Photoshops. We’re not sure which is more entertaining.
We’d like to think a regular yoga practice would help Putin be more compassionate and tolerant of others, but we can’t get our hopes up.