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Russia is cracking down on activities associated with ‘religious cults’.
Apparently, yoga fits that description.
Two studios in Nizhnevartovsk have reportedly been sent letters by the local authorities in which they are asked to stop hosting yoga classes.
The letter urges the Aura and Ingara studios to ‘prevent the spread of new religious cults’ and movements, specifically identifying Hatha yoga – popular across Europe – as being ‘inextricably linked to religious practices’, the Moscow Times reports.
Quoted in the Times, yoga teacher Inga Pimenova describes the reaction of Nizhnevartovsk’s yoga community as simultaneously ‘fearful and amused’.
In Hindu teaching, Hatha yoga was founded by Shiva – one of the main deities – and passed down through disciples.
Yoga is enormously popular worldwide. As many as 8.7 percent of the US population are practitioners, The Yoga Journal found, which equates to roughly 20.4million people.
Last week, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide celebrated the first ever International Yoga Day.
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