Yoga bridges China and India

By Dev Mehra Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/11 17:13:39

When we talk about Sino-India relations, one thing that both countries have in common is yoga. My Chinese friend, who owns a yoga club, told me that yoga creates a very beautiful, healthy and positive bond between China and India and that it's like an unbreakable bridge between both countries. He said the bridge creates a path for both sides to share a lot of knowledge.

Yoga started in China in the late 1970s, long before it became popular in the West. It was popularized through a daytime show on China Central Television (CCTV). The instructor Zhang Huilan, wearing garlands of flowers and Hawaiian outfits, guided Chinese housewives through gentle yoga poses.

In 1985, Zhang's TV series, Yoga, started airing in China three times daily. The series was so popular that it became one of the longest running television series in China's history, airing nationwide uninterrupted from 1985 to 2000.

Still, yoga in China mostly hovered in obscurity in the early 2000s. According to my Indian friend who visited China then, most people had no idea what yoga was.

Now, it's different. An estimated 250 yoga studios exist in Beijing alone, ranging from one-room outfits to big studios, and locations are multiplying across the country. Yoga is really getting a foothold in China.

As a young yoga trainer and practitioner, I noticed that the yoga people practice here is more oriented toward fitness. The yoga in India is based more on spiritual practice. That's the main difference I found.

People need to understand that yoga is a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices or disciplines. It is not limited to the maintenance of the physical health and well-being of the body. It is a combination of the mind, body and soul. When these three things meet at one point, it is called yog (yoga), which means "to join" or "to unite."

People here mainly think that they will lose weight, so they practice yoga with the primary goal of getting fit and skinny and all these things. In India, that's not important at all. Well, they practice a lot of breathing and cleaning techniques. Still, yoga has its merits regardless of one's reason for practicing it.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.



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