It's hard to imagine alpha male Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in a child's pose or saying "Namaste" while clasping two hands together gently in a ritual bow. But those are some elements of yoga, which he told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday he would try, reports the New York Times.
“I have tried many things, but never yoga, but it cannot fail to attract,” Putin told Prime Minister Modi during a meeting in Russian city Ufa, according to a transcript on the presidential website. Modi thanked him for Russia's positive response to International Yoga Day, which the Indian prime minister helped launch on June 21.
Russia hosted two summit meetings in Ufa "meant to show, among other things, that Russia has friends," according to the Times. Putin invited leaders from Asian countries in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as well as Brazil, India, China and South Africa, which form, with Russia, the BRICS group of countries with emerging economies, the Times noted.
The spiritual practice of yoga, which has been referred to as "moving meditation," would be a departure for Putin, who, the Times reports, has a black belt in judo, drives Formula One race cars and is featured in an iconic photo in which he rides bare-chested on horseback on a hunting expedition.
A kinder, gentler side of Putin might be good PR, given his year-long war against Ukraine and rumors that he is connected to the sudden deaths of his enemies, like Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was executed outside the Kremlin in February.
“I will see what my level of fitness allows,” he told Modi, reports the Times. “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.”