Yoga college in China attracts thousands

Beijing, March 31 (IANS) The China-India Yoga College has drawn thousands since it opened in November last year in Kunming in China’s Yunnan province.

Based in the Yunnan Minzu (Nationalities) University, the country’s first yoga college frequently has students queue up for free lessons in the ancient art, reports Xinhua news agency.

Lu Fang, deputy director of the college, said more than five dozen full-time students have completed yoga sessions. Close to 3,000 people participated in free yoga sessions offered by the college.

“Several companies and government offices invited our teachers to teach yoga,” said Lu.

Yoga was first introduced into China by Hong Kong practitioner Wai Lana in the 1980s. Her workout programmes, which aired daily on China’s Central Television, were the starting point for many Chinese yogis.

China’s white collar workers have adopted yoga as a way to stay fit, with many attending a couple of sessions per week in the gym or studio.

Lu said a growing number of people want to learn from Indian yoga masters.

“They not only learn yoga positions, but also sutras, philosophy, culture and dining habits from the Indian tutors,” Xinhua quoted Lu as saying.

“I only knew about Iyengar style, but after extensive learning with Indian tutors, I have come to a much deeper understanding of the yoga art,” said Han Mingxue, a Chinese yoga teacher in the college.

The college figured in one of 24 agreements reached during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in May last year.

Under the agreement, India sends at least two tutors to the college. It does not issue degrees, but students who want a degree in yoga can pursue further study at Indian colleges.

Velusamy Subbulakshmi, who came from India’s Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, has spent the past five months giving yoga lessons.

She said it was not hard to communicate yoga culture with Chinese learners. “For example, the Chinese Taiji (shadowboxing), has a great deal of similarity with yoga,” she said.

“Yoga has become the most popular form of cultural exchange between China and India,” said Ding Shaoxiang, vice governor of Yunnan province.

China and India, as neighbours and two of the world’s fastest growing economies, have great potential in deepening cultural exchanges, he said.

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