‘Siberia’ and ‘Yoga’ are two words that don’t seem to belong in the same sentence, so I just had to visit a yoga studio in the provincial town of Chita in Eastern Siberia. There, I met Anastasia, a mother of two girls.
Anastasia said she wasn’t happy with her physical appearance after the birth of her second child, having put on some 10 kilograms. So, at age 30, she signed up for Yoga classes.
She hadn’t regularly done a physical activity since gymnastics some two decades earlier and, at first, she was frustrated. ”Initially, I didn’t like it. I said, this is boring. Why am I doing it.”
However, she stuck with it and some seven years later, she is a certified yoga instructor teaching three times a week while maintaining the household and a finance job.
Anastasia will open her own yoga studio at the end of the year with several yoga friends and hopes to offer classes for pregnant women and children. Her future plans also include studying briefly in India in early 2016.
”When my students say that they are not in good shape, I mention that I looked just like them before I started.”
Anastasia said yoga has changed more than just her physical appearance. ”I have different values now. Seven years ago, my goal was something material, like a new handbag.”
She said more Russians are taking up yoga post the consumption mania in the 2000s. ”People began to realize that buying another pair of shoes just wasn’t bring them any more happiness.”
Anastasia thinks that ‘breaking point’ in Russian society happened somewhere around 2007.
She recalled seeing a friend around that time who worked as a director and ‘didn’t limit himself or hold back’ on consuming. The once chubby director ”was on a bike wearing leggings.”