India to open yoga centre in China

To capitalise on the fast-growing popularity of yoga in China, India is planning to open its first-ever yoga centre in the country. This weekend, 5000 Chinese participated in a yoga festival in Beijing. Photo: Ananth Krishnan   | Photo Credit: ANANTH KRISHNAN

The Indian government is planning to open up a first-ever yoga resource centre in China as part of a new move to capitalise on the fast-growing popularity of yoga in a country where there are an estimated several hundred thousand practitioners.

On Saturday, Beijing hosted a first-ever yoga festival, with an expected 5,000 Chinese set to take part in four days of workshops, covering everything from breathing exercises and specific asanas to meditation lessons.

With a rapidly growing following for yoga in China – almost every major city now has several yoga centres – India is hoping to more clearly link the widening interest in yoga to Indian traditions.

“For many Chinese, yoga first came here in some ways as an American export, people saw celebrities like Madonna doing yoga and then started getting an interest,” said Yin Yan, who founded YogiYoga, China’s biggest yoga teaching centre, which holds classes in 57 cities and has trained more than 15,000 Chinese as yoga teachers.

Ms. Yin said what was often missing in many Chinese yoga classes was the “meditative” aspect. “yoga is not just a physical exercise, so what we are trying to do is give Chinese an authentic learning experience,” said Ms. Yin, who runs YogiYoga along with her husband Manmohan Singh Bhandari, a yoga teacher from Rishikesh.

The Indian government is hoping to play a role in that exercise, starting with bringing renowned teachers from India to visit yoga centres in Beijing.

This week, the Health Ministry’s Department of Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) arranged for two teachers from the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga and one expert from the Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy to hold workshops as part of the four-day Beijing festival.

Ambassador Ashok Kantha, who launched the yoga festival, said the idea was “to engage in a dialogue that will help disperse all the doubts of the practitioners and helping them align with the roots of this ancient Indian practice” and “popularise yoga in China with Indian traditions”.

Yoga teachers such as >B.K.S. Iyengar – whose books have been translated into Mandarin and sold tens of thousands of copies – have wide following here. Mr. Iyengar told The Hindu during a visit to Beijing that he saw China as a future home for yoga. When he travelled to Guangzhou to give a lecture, he was stunned to find that organisers had rented out a stadium – more than 1,300 students had come to listen to him.

Ayush is planning to open a resource centre at the Indian Embassy in Beijing, which will liaise with Chinese yoga centres such as YogiYoga, arrange for Indian yoga teachers to visit and provide resources on teaching yoga and on Ayurveda.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 2:13:33 PM |

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