Officials in central Russia ban yoga for fear of occultism
Whether you’ve tried the practice or not, you’re probably well aware by now of the positive effects that yoga can have on your body, both physically and mentally. That is, unless you’re a politician in the central Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk.
While people around the world have been trumpeting the benefits of yoga in all of its forms, officials in Nizhnevartovsk have been cracking down on the practice. Now, in their most dramatic move to date, they have officially placed a ban on yoga in the city.
Believing the practice to be inextricably linked to religion and the supernatural, central Russian officials banned it in order to prevent what they fear may be “the spread of new religious cults and movements.”
That a single form of exercise can be recognized as invaluable for the wellness of mind and body by so many yet seen as almost dangerous by others speaks volumes. As one group views yoga as a practice that can free the mind, the other views it as one that essentially controls the mind, practically to the point of possession.
While hardly a reflection of Russia’s attitude towards yoga at large, this move is a clear example of how culture and differing global perspectives can inform opinions. It is a reminder of how audience is everything when it comes to reception of, well, anything.
It is also a demonstration of the importance of seeing the big picture before developing a firm opinion on any topic. While yoga is indeed rooted in spiritualism to an extent, it is difficult to deny the proven benefits that the practice can have on the mind and body. To dismiss that evidence in favor of an unwavering and closed-minded attitude exhibits a rigidness of opinion similar to that of the cult mentalities that these officials wish to prevent.
Unfortunately, the translation of harsh opinions into harsh policies means that yogis in Nizhnevartovsk will have to find a new way to keep their bodies and minds in tip-top shape.
As for the politicians? They could probably benefit from some mind-relaxing meditation and exercise themselves. Having banned yoga, they’ll just have to find the next best thing.
Do you think the Russian officials of Nizhnevartovsk went a bit overboard when they decided to ban yoga in the city, or do you think their concerns are founded? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi