NIZHNEVARTOVSK , Russia, July 1 (UPI) -- Officials in Nizhnevartovsk, Russia, are attempting to ban Hatha yoga classes in municipal buildings, likening the practice to a religious cult.
The Aura and Ingara Hatha yoga studios in the central Russia city received letters from city officials planning to ban yoga classes in city facilities. Both studious rent out public space at the Samotlor public stadium.
"Everybody is scared and amused," Inga Pimenova, a teacher at the Ingara studio, told The Times.
Nizhnevartovsk First Deputy Head Sergei Levkin asked the head of social and youth policy, Marianna Parfenova, that she take all necessary measures to stop Hatha yoga lessons from taking place at the stadium "in order to prevent the spread of new religious cults and movements."
A second letter was sent to the heads of the physical culture and education departments, describing Hatha yoga as "inextricably linked to religious practices" and having "an occult character."
The move by city officials comes soon after the first International Day of Yoga, established by the United Nations, was celebrated worldwide on June 21.
Nizhnevartovsk is the second-largest city in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, a Russian federal subject, and has a population of more than 260,000 people.