I tell you what, folks. This whole baby yoga story? It simply refuses to die. You know the story I’m talking about, right? The one about the Russian woman, Lena Fokina, and her propensity to fling infants around like Duncan yo-yos while listening to the soothing sounds of Zamfir? You wanna talk about bizarre — this woman’s baby-flinging gig makes Charlie Sheen interviews look like an afternoon game of checkers with Grandpa on the porch.
At first, many questioned the authenticity of the Fokina’s video which quickly went viral. You can’t even see that video anymore because YouTube took it down, citing a violation of their policy on “shocking and disgusting content.” But it turned out that Lena Fokina and her baby yoga practices were legit.
This affirmation, thanks to Nathan Thornburgh. You see, Thornburgh actually tracked Lena down (she was living in Egypt at the time) and interviewed her on his website, DadWagon. Going into it, Thornburgh had a hunch that the video was no joke, citing “a Russian obsession with physical hardiness that goes far beyond pictures of Putin fishing topless.” And he ought to know. Thornburgh writes about Russia for Time Magazine.
So, in interviewing Lena, he wasn’t all that surprised to find that her practice was, indeed, a legitimate one. Legitimate in that it wasn’t a hoax, at least. The interview was fascinating. In it, Fokina insisted that baby yoga is extremely beneficial to a little one’s development, both physical and mental.
Fast forward a couple of months, and we find Fokina taking her act on the road. This time to her native Russia. The 50-year-old woman has safely escaped the Egyptian revolution and was a recent guest on a popular Russian talk show, Chanel 1’s Let Them Talk with host Andrei Malakhov. And I think it’s safe to say that by the end of that show, Fokina better understood that many, many people are shocked at the practice of slinging a newborn around like a flesh-colored sack of potatoes, regardless of the benefits she attributes to it.
Once again, Thornburgh was all over this story which refuses to die. He wrote about it earlier today on DadWagon. According to Thornburgh:
I’m not sure what Lena thought this show was going to be, but Malakhov brought together a distinguished panel of writers, psychologists and cranky grandmothers, paired the panel with a somewhat irritated audience, and spent nearly the entire 45 minutes letting everyone rip into her and her unorthodox yoga.
It got so bad that Lena broke down in tears. And I don’t mean to kick a woman when she’s down. But I do mean to provide an update. And that update is this: despite the “sense of genuine injury and disbelief that [people] would question her practice,” people are, indeed, questioning her practice. This time, her own people.
Which left me to wonder the same thing Thornburg wonders: “If the Russians turn on her, where will she go from here?
Gawker has a condensed version of Fokina’s appearance on Let Them Talk which starts off with Fokina engaging in (a tamed-down version of) baby yoga. While I still think you’ll find the footage shocking, believe me when I tell you it pales in comparison to the original YouTube video.
But to really get the lowdown on what happened, I highly encourage you to read Thornburgh’s account over at DadWagon. He’s got the entire video up and has a chronology of what happens when, complete with translation.
So, the bottom line here is this: Baby yoga is alive and well, albeit slightly wounded by a bout with humility on national TV.