At a time when yoga’s potential to injure is under the spotlight, Russian baby-swinging “guru” Lena Fokina is once again making waves, as a new video shows she’s still swinging babies, much to the horror of parents and enthusiasts of far gentler baby yoga techniques long popular in the West.
British Barcroft TV followed the 51-year-old to Dhaba, Egypt, where she runs baby yoga classes for Russian hippies. A video shows Ms. Fokina spinning, flipping and swinging naked newborns over her head, often by a single limb.
Nearly all of the babies are crying.
Ms. Fokina first gained notoriety last year, when YouTube banned her videos for violating policy on “shocking and disgusting” content. Viewers in the West and in Russia alike feared for the babies’ joints, not to mention their brains.
Ms. Fokina insists she’s been practising the technique for decades, with no injuries sustained. She points to her own daughters, also flipped like flapjacks as infants, now able-bodied free-dive instructors.
Developed by fellow Russian Igor Charkovsky – who also practises something called “water rebirthing,” which sort of resembles waterboarding, except with infants – baby yoga is intended to improve muscular development.
“And the children often turn out to be early readers, singers, talkers, swimmers. It also makes their hands stronger. We are humanists and we don’t do anything wrong,” Ms. Fokina explained to Nathan Thornburgh at Dadwagon.com, a blog about fatherhood.
Alarmingly, she suggested that “sometimes it only takes one training session” for baby yoga novices to master tossing their children in the air.
A cursory search of “baby yoga” reveals Ms. Fokina dominating the headlines, although plenty of parents practise a far gentler variety of exercises intended to foster bonding between parent and child.
What do you make of the frenzy around this fringe practice?