Beijing: China-India Yoga College has become a huge success in China, drawing thousands of followers, mostly students, to its free lessons on the ancient Indian physical and spiritual practice.
The college, which is the country’s first yoga college, was opened last November in Kunming and is based in the Yunnan Minzu (Nationalities) University. yoga Lu Fang, deputy director of the college, said more than five dozen full-time students have completed yoga sessions and nearly 3,000 people have participated in free yoga sessions offered by the college.
“Several companies and government offices invited our teachers to teach yoga during celebrations such as the International Women’s Day,” Lu told state-run Xinhua news agency today. Lu said a growing number of people wanted to learn from Indian yoga masters.
“They not only learn yoga positions, but also sutras, philosophy, culture and dining habits from the Indian tutors,” Lu said. Yoga was first introduced in China in 1980s by Hong Kong practitioner Wai Lana.
Her workout programmes, aired daily on China’s Central Television, were the starting point for many Chinese yoga students and struck a chord with China’s white collar workers, the report said.
“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, who became a Chinese yoga teacher in the college.
The college was one of 24 agreements reached during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China in May last year. Under the agreement, India sends at least two tutors to the college.
Currently the college 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 and has spent past five months giving yoga lessons in China, said it is not hard to communicate yoga culture with Chinese learners.
“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 exchange, he said.