So, whether yoga is a religious experience or simply a good workout depends on how each practitioner approaches it (though regardless, it’s important to honor what the practice looked like before the Western world began taking part). Still, it’s not okay for a local government to ban a spiritual experience or hinder its citizens’ religious freedoms, especially when it comes to a physical activity known for keeping people healthier and happier overall. Practicing yoga often makes for more resilient and centered people who can keep the community moving forward in a positive way, so it’d be in the city’s best interest to allow classes to continue. There’s no word on how the studios in Nizhnevartovsk will survive without public spaces to host their classes, or whether they’ll even be permitted to continue operating, but it’s clear that people at all stages of life, in any part of the world — Russia included — could benefit from retaining the right to practice.

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