Yoga has long been practiced to promote healthy minds and bodies, and world leaders are among it’s many practitioners. Here are just a few of them.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minster of India
On the second International Yoga Day, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi practiced yoga with 30,000 others in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.
Modi regularly practices yoga and has studied with H.R. Nagendra, a Bangalore yoga therapist, since the 1980s, the New York Times reported.
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minster of Canada
Trudeau likely gets a lot of his yoga guidance from his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, who is a hatha yoga instructor.
He also grew up with it. In 2013, he told the CBC that he admired a photograph of his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who could perform the advanced yoga pose “the peacock” by balancing his body entirely on his wrists.
“I used to do it an awful lot when I was younger. Now that I’ve hit 40, I’m not quite as able to do it as I used to be,” he told the CBC.
But just a few days after the article ran, he tweeted a photograph of his version of “the peacock.”
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) April 8, 2013
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was a big supporter of establishing International Yoga Day. But he is relatively new to the practice, performing his first-ever yoga moves in 2015.
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) January 13, 2015
Since then, he’s participated in yoga events at the United Nations with his wife, Yoo Soon-taek.
Namaste! #TBT to last year’s first-ever International #Yoga Day when Sri Sri Ravi Shankar led #UnitedNations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, his wife Yoo Soon-taek and hundreds of attendees in asanas at UN Headquarters in #NYC. Yoga enthusiasts at the Times Square NYC event also joined the practice via live webcast. This year’s #YogaDay on Tuesday will focus on the #GlobalGoals for sustainable development, agreed by countries at the UN to fight poverty, reduce inequality and address climate change. Stay tuned for images from events happening around the world! 📷 @aaronjbuckley, @mediatrize & @nancykgroves / UN Social Media #ThrowbackThursday
David Cameron, Prime Minster of Canada
While it’s not clear if Cameron practices yoga personally, he and his wife Samantha, have been supporters for years.
Yoga helped in treating the Camerons’ late son Ivan who suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
Ivan, who died in 2009, attended the Special Yoga Centre in Kensal Rise which uses yoga to assist children with special needs. When the centre faced closure, Samantha Cameron held fundraising events and became an honorary patron, the Evening Standard reported.
Yoga helps children with special needs by making them “feel more comfortable in their bodies and with skills such as mobility, flexibility and stability,” Special Yoga Centre founder Jo Manuel said.
Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States
As part of her “Let’s Move!” initiative, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has advocated regular physical activity in children.
Just before she turned 50 in 2014, she told People Magazine that she was taking up yoga to stay flexible.
What do other world leaders do for health?
Xi Jinping, President of China
China’s President Xi Jinping has been a soccer lover for years and played football at school in the 1950s and 1960s.
His father, Xi Zhongxun, is also reported to have enjoyed the game, the South China Morning Post reported.
His love for the game may be why he has such high hopes for China’s football teams.
In 2011, Xi said he had three wishes for Chinese football: That the Chinese national team could qualify for another World Cup, host a World Cup, and win a World Cup, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Barack Obama, U.S. President
Basketball has been Barack Obama’s passion ever since he was a child growing up in Hawaii.
He had posters of Dr. J on his bedroom wall, and dreamed be a professional player, the Washington Post reported.
At the start of his first term as president, Obama even converted the White House tennis court into a basketball court, and often plays games with politicians and officials, the New Yorker reports.
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has practiced the martial art of judo since he was 11, and holds a black belt in the sport, according to the Huffington Post.
Putin has even written a book about martial arts and an instructional DVD on judo, HuffPo writes.
Watch Vlad in action:
Numerous world leaders bike
Many world leaders enjoy two-wheeling it. Here’s a collection of global leaders on bikes by the Guardian.