Russian President Vladimir Putin, well known for his “manly” sports pursuits, has promised to give yoga a try.

Mr Putin made the pledge to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting in the Russian city of Ufa on Wednesday, ahead of the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization summits.

“One thing I've never done is yoga. But it's definitely tempting. I will try to do my best according to my sporting abilities,” Mr Putin told Mr Modi. The Russian President admitted his lack of confidence, lamenting to Mr Modi that “When you see real yogis, it seems impossible to achieve such perfection.”

Mr Modi has been actively promoting yoga in recent months, and recently led over 35,000 people in a yoga demonstration on the world’s first International Yoga Day, which was celebrated on 21 June.  

It has been suggested that Mr Putin’s willingness to try yoga represents a gesture of friendship towards the Indian President, in line with speculation that a goal of the Ufa summits is to show Russia not to be isolated or without friends, despite the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

However, it seems that not everybody in Russia is as open to yoga as Mr Putin. It has been reported that earlier this month a central Russian city banned yoga classes, on the grounds that they promote “religious cults”.

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