Millions of Chinese people are adopting the ancient Indian practice of yoga – or at least the American version..
China: the new Eldorado of Yoga
Practicing yoga is the acme of modernity: a great way to focus the energy you need to succeed. “It’s a symbol of the outer world, explains Kuo-Deemer, like thin women on the beach. “
In less than ten years, yoga studios have sprouted throughout the Middle Kingdom. You can find them along urban spaces, and you can even find some in the countryside! They spread so quickly that we can no longer count them precisely. An estimated 10 million Chinese practice yoga regularly, when 16 million Americans also practice it on their side. Long before overtaking the economy of the United States, not even mentioning its army, China will be the new place to be to practice yoga.
“Yoga arrived in China via America,” says Biria Fa’eq, one of the main disciples of BKS Iyengar, who regularly comes to Beijing to train teachers since 2008. “They see things from an American perspective. In the beginning, they are attracted by sides aspects of yoga: be beautiful, digest well, sleep well, have a nice body, be smart, without constraint. It is hard work to lead them to the deeper aspects of it all. “
Yoga is a booming industry with the distractions that come with it. Most yoga styles are available, although the focus is clearly on the physical practice. It is often a challenging activity: the price of a lesson in Shanghai city can sometimes be higher than in Los Angeles. “There is an urgent need here,” said Chen Si, a journalist promoting the teaching of classic yoga. This summer he organized a conference with Iyengar and a dozen of his best students in Guangzhou, China, face-to-face with 1,300 students.
A booming market
The largest chain of yoga studios in China which has over 20,000 students, has a price plan on two levels. In large cities, Yogi Yoga offers $ 1,000 for an unlimited access during one year, which corresponds to a quarter of the average annual income nationwide! In the provinces, the fees drop to $ 10 per month. Yogi Yoga has $4 million profit last year, including the benefits of teacher training and equipment sales. The revenues have quadrupled since 2005. “There is a huge market, according to Birjoo a professor Mehta of Mumbai, but what will happen if the brand does not fulfill its promises? “
He urged major Chinese yoga brands to develop their understanding of yoga and present more authentic things: “do not limit yourself with the technology you have. There must be a continuous technological development. “
When Yogi Yoga opened, back in 2003, the company promised to “do pure yoga, from India.” Such as Yogi Mohan’s way, elaborated by a professor from Rishikesh. But when this teacher got established in China, he was shocked: people asked him if he had studied yoga in America …
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To educate them, him and his partner at Yogi Yoga, Beijing Yin Yan’s editor, translated some books. They started with “The Light of Yoga” by Iyengar and texts written by Swami Kuvalayananda. In 2005, they invited Iyengar to teach. He initially refused, but then sent several older students. Foreign yogis places have become more common, as well as 200 hours training programs for teachers, some having agreement with Yoga Alliance.
“Practicing yoga to discover the inner beauty and light”
The priorities begin to change. Indian teachers are now very demanded, and those willing to emigrate can be very well paid. “People become more appreciative of what yoga really is,” said Yin. “They are not just there to work on the physical aspect. “
“There is more interest in yoga thanks to celebrities like Madonna, who practice it, but there’s also this interest because yoga is well marketed,” says Yin. One of his projects is a free online magazine called “Yoga Digest”, which has 200,000 readers compared to the 30,000 who bought “Yoga Journal”, that she also edits. Like its ancestor, Yoga Digest connects its studios. “Marketing made a good effort to get people in to practice,” she said.
Traditional Chinese disciplines work differently. “Tai Chi remains in a teacher-disciple relationship,” said Yin. This does not prevent millions of pensioners to attend parks at dawn to realize these graceful movements. These scenes are very frequent from Beijing to Hong Kong, where yoga has rooted well before Britain gave back its colony, 14 years ago. Today, the Hong Kong part would rather pay $ 35 on a course than train with the elders.
Similarly, some young Chinese still practice Wushu, which puts together hundreds of martial arts, including the “Supreme fist”, or Tai Chi. Like yoga, they aim to balance the mind and body, working on posture to circulate the energy more freely. Vicky Wong, who practices both, said they are complementary. “The two disciplines complement each other beautifully,” she said, originally from Hong Kongbut based in Beijing. “Practicing Asana helps the whole body, and Tai Chi’s techniques help to concentrate internally. “
Until now, many people’s commitment is superficial, even if they smile while doing splits. “It is natural to work in order to keep your beauty,” conceded Iyengar. But we should “practice yoga to discover the inner beauty and inner light, not only for external beauty. ” Chen believes that the master’s visit was perfectly timed. “China is an ideal place to be successful,” he said, but a return to the “greed of the 1980s would be ideal.”
But there is also a desire on the spiritual side and a tradition to look for new ideas. “Yoga is a wonderful gift from India to China,” Chen said. “Chinese society is ready to include other Eastern philosophy. What you have seen in America is nothing compared to what will happen here! “
Further readings :
- Things you don’t know about China
- Reasons why Chinese tourist like to travel to Thailand