Yoga and Health Promotion in China —— A Parallel Forum of the 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event

Themed “Enhance Mutual Learning between Civilizations through Yoga, Work Together to Strengthen People-to-People Bond,” the event was highlighted by a forum titled “Yoga and Health Promotion in China” featuring participation from 11 scholars and experts, both in-person and virtually, from China, India, and Japan.
by Bian Xiuhong
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Guests discuss at the “Yoga and Health Promotion in China” Forum.

The 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event took place in Kunming, capital of southwestern China’s Yunnan Province, on June 21. Themed “Enhance Mutual Learning between Civilizations through Yoga, Work Together to Strengthen People-to-People Bond,” the event was highlighted by a forum titled “Yoga and Health Promotion in China” featuring participation from 11 scholars and experts, both in-person and virtually, from China, India, and Japan.

Guo Jianjun, director of the Sports Medicine Integration and Innovation Center at Capital University of Physical Education and Sports and director of the Sports and Health Branch of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, said that Yoga, like Tai Chi, is both a healthcare system and a culture. Yoga will gain more popularity in China if it absorbs Chinese characteristics. It will flourish through the integration with medical studies and serve the health of people in China and the world by upholding the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, he said.

Kazuo Keishin Kimura, founder of Japan Yoga Niketan and president of the Japan Yoga Therapy Society, explained yoga therapy and its function as medical treatment based on data collected from over three years of surveys done by his society. They found that 80 percent of yoga learners in Japan have some health problems and 90 percent of people with illnesses witnessed improvements after they were prescribed yoga therapy such as isometric yoga and breathing exercises.

Qi Xin, associate professor at the Department of Physical Education of Peking University testified to witnessing the development of yoga in China’s universities and colleges and expressed hope that yoga would benefit more students by helping them discover their true and peaceful inner world and realize their individual development to be a responsible citizen to society.

Su Dongjun, vice president of the China Electronics Enterprise Association and president of Lancang-Mekong International Cooperation Institute at Yunnan Minzu University (YMU), said both China and India have splendid cultures and are fast-growing economies. They play the role of regional stabilizers and assume global responsibility. He noted that modern industrial cooperation and mutual learning between the two countries has a long history and great prospects. YMU can take advantage of its unique strength to bridge cultural and educational cooperation between the two countries.

Nie Zhenxin, vice president of Yunnan Sports Vocational And Technical College, noted that in recent years some have given up yoga because they think it’s boring and repetitive despite its continuing boom in China. He argued that it is necessary to adapt yoga in response to the needs of the times by integrating the philosophy, humanistic spirit, and moral norms contained in traditional Chinese sports culture with yoga.

Avijit Banerjee, associate professor and head of the Department of Chinese Language & Culture (Cheena Bhavana) at Visva-Bharati University, suggested that the volume of people-to-people exchange between India and China still lags far behind the growth of their economic and trade ties that now bind the world’s two largest developing countries. The most critical demographic capable of spurring change in India-China dynamics is the youth because they must shape future relations. Any plan or scheme for promoting people-to-people interaction should focus on the youth, he said.

Li Xiuhong, associate professor at the Physical Education Department of Harbin Institute of Technology (Weihai), shared her team’s experience designing personalized yoga training programs for athletes. They found that yoga, as a fitness sport with unique healing properties, can help professional athletes better realize their physical and mental potential and improve sports performance.

Zhang Jinghui, a Kathak dancer and registered dance teacher with the China Dancers Association, shared her experience practicing and teaching Indian dance. She summed up her gains in the process with four terms: ingenuity, down-to-earth, bright eyes, and devotion. She said that obsession with Indian dance, like insistence on yoga, is a kind of spiritual practice. A dancer’s hard work will ultimately pay off.

Ding Lingyan from the southwest branch of the India-China Yoga College at YMU surveyed the teaching and research developments of yoga and integrative medicine to treat chronic diseases and aging. Her team has been merging yoga’s physical and mental healing properties with modern medicine (traditional Chinese medicine/Western medicine) to treat chronic and psychosomatic diseases. She expressed hope that market-oriented operation and promotion would help such practices benefit all and reduce pressure on China’s medical and social security system.

Sohan Singh, an Asthanga yoga instructor and founder of Sohan Yoga Institute, said that yoga has become a huge platform for China and India to exchange ideas related to health, wellbeing, happiness, and cultural exchange. Yoga has emerged as a powerful tool to connect and improve people to people ties. “Yoga is growing so fast and people are enjoying practicing yoga,” he said. “I think India and China can shoulder this responsibility and use yoga to help the world to improve health, prosperity, wellbeing, and happiness.”

Sunil Sharma, translator and editor of the English version of The Light of Hatha Yoga and a professional yoga instructor, said that yoga can enrich lives, wellbeing, and spirituality. He stressed that the basic philosophy of yoga is that we are one and universally our minds function in the same way. Yoga can help remove impurities in the body and mind to facilitate inner illumination of knowledge. Yoga doesn’t bring anything from outside. It unfolds your own beauty, which is covered under a lid of darkness. And this uncovering process of yoga will elevate a person from the present state to awareness at a higher level.

Under the guidance of China International Communications Group (CICG), the Foreign Affairs Office of Yunnan Provincial People’s Government, and the Publicity Office of Yunnan Provincial People’s Government, the 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event was hosted by YMU, the Publicity Department of the Kunming Municipal Party Committee and the CICG Center for Europe and Asia (China Pictorial Publications), and organized by India-China Yoga College of YMU, China India Dialogue, and the Yunnan International Communication Center for South & Southeast Asia.