cracks down on yoga classes to check occultism
(PTI): Close on the
heels of India leading worldwide International Yoga Day celebrations,
Yoga classes have been banned in a central Russian city by
the authorities to check spread of 'religious occultism'.
the centre of the crackdown are two studios holding classes
for Hatha Yoga -- a set of asanas or postures involving deep
breathing and tough physical exercises, which as per Hindu
mythology was first practised by Lord Shiva.
Hatha Yoga is the most popular form of Yoga globally, including
in the US, and a Russian Bollywood actress named Indra Devi
(born Eugenia Vassilievna) is widely credited to have popularised
it in the West more than 100 years ago.
is known as an ancient Indian spiritual and exercise discipline
to balance mind, body and spirit, while millions across the
globe joined in spectacular celebrations to mark the first
International Yoga Day on June 21.
plans for Yoga Day taking a stressful turn
India, celebrations were led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,
whose call led to declaration of this Day by the United Nations
and who himself performed various asanas and pranayams with
a record number of over 35,000 people.
Yoga has become highly commoditised globally over the years
and various schools and cults have sprung up in different
parts of the world in its name.
the first major crackdown abroad, the authorities in the central
Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk have now asked the two Hatha
Yoga studies - Auro and Ingara - to stop holding yoga classes
in the municipal facilities of the city, as per the Russian
They were reportedly renting out stadiums and public meeting
halls for their classes.
business daily reported that the Nizhnevartovsk officials
have barred use of municipal buildings for yoga classes and
have issued orders to the two studios on this.
Moscow Times reported that the order has been issued "to
prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements."
authorities have also issued a letter to the heads of departments
for physical culture and education, stating that Hatha yoga
was "inextricably linked to religious practices"
and has "an occult character," as per the Kommersant
is said to be very popular in Russia.
Devi had learnt Hatha Yoga from an Indian Guru and was later
described as the "first lady of yoga". She went
on to teach the same to many in Europe and the US, before
she died in 2002 -- weeks before her 103rd birthday.