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Russian President Vladimir Putin vows to add yoga to his repertoire

Publication: The Economic Times
Date: July 10, 2015
URL:     http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/russian-president-vladimir-putin-vows-to-add-yoga-to-his-repertoire/articleshow/48012120.cms

Maybe somebody told President Vladimir Putin that yoga was all about the warrior poses. Or maybe it was just part of his Asian charm offensive. But whatever the inspiration, Putin avowed on Wednesday that he was ready to add yoga to his repertoire of strictly macho sports. "I have tried many things, but never yoga, but it cannot fail to attract," Putin told Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting in the southern Russian city of Ufa, according to a transcript on the presidential website.

 Putin expressed admiration for yoga after Modi thanked him for the enthusiasm with which International Yoga Day 9 (June 21) was greeted in Russia. Putin, 62, has not been shy about sharing his athletic prowess with the world. He holds a black belt in judo, has been photographed driving a Formula One race car and has worked assiduously to improve his hockey game since becoming president.

 He even scored eight goals in an exhibition hockey match two months ago with NHL players in Sochi, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics — which Russian press reports insisted had nothing to do with the fact that he was president. He also swims, once reportedly downed a charging tiger with a tranquiliser dart and has been photographed hunting and horseback riding while bare-chested.

 Whatever is behind his embrace of yoga, Putin apparently missed the memo from the central Russian city of Nizhnevartovsk last month announcing that it was booting two yoga studios out of municipal space. The city explained that it was doing so for reasons of public order, "to prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements."

 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 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. Putin, in a rare moment of public self-doubt, acknowledged that the asanas might not come easily. "I will see what my level of fitness allows," he told 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."

- New York Times
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