Yoga and Tai Chi: Connection and Coexistence — A Parallel Forum of the 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event

On that afternoon, 17 experts and scholars from various countries conducted in-depth exchange at a parallel forum themed on “Yoga and Tai Chi: Dialogue beyond Body.”
by Liu Chang
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Guests discuss at the “Yoga and Tai Chi: Dialogue beyond Body” parallel forum.

The 2022 International Yoga Day & China-India Cultural Exchange Event was held on June 21 in Kunming, southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. Themed on “Enhance Mutual Learning between Civilizations through Yoga, Work Together to Strengthen People-to-People Bond,” the event was attended by more than 100 Chinese and overseas guests both online and offline.

On that afternoon, 17 experts and scholars from various countries conducted in-depth exchange at a parallel forum themed on “Yoga and Tai Chi: Dialogue beyond Body.” Meanwhile the parallel forum hosted by Jia Wangwei, deputy dean of the India-China Yoga College, Yunnan Minzu University (YMU), shed light on the benefits of both practices.

Li Zhengyang, dean of Boya Academy, emphasized that both Yoga and Tai Chi have their origins from human beings and make worldwide contributions. At present, the Academy is dedicated to exploring the five dimensions behind Yoga: exercise, life, art, philosophy and culture.

Dr. Li Shudong, secretary general of Tai Chi Science Federation and member of California Acupuncture Board, shared how Tai Chi shines with Oriental charm at Stanford University in the form of “BeWell Program” and “Medical Tai Chi Course.”

Dr. S. P. Mishra, vice president of the Indian Yoga Association and founder and vice chancellor of Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya University (DSVV), pointed out that Yoga can lead the public to refine themselves and purify their souls and spirits.

Yang Xiangquan, member of the Scientific Research Committee of the Chinese Wushu Association, opined that Yoga is closely linked to Chinese culture. In ancient China, Yoga localized into “Zen,” a school of Mahayana Buddhism, contributed to the maturity and perfection of Shaolin Kungfu; while in modern China, it developed into fitness Yoga with its sporty nature cultivated in the West.

Xu Xinjian, director of the Institute of Literature and Anthropology, Sichuan University, emphasized that it’s necessary to have cross-cultural communication to explore the physical meaning of self-cultivation and sitting forgotten in Yoga and Tai Chi.

Dr. Subodh Tiwari, chairman of Kaivalyadham S.M.Y.M. Samiti, Lonavala, emphasized the role of Yoga in combating COVID-19. He noted that people need to practice not only asanas, but also other elements in Yoga such as pranayama, dharana, dhyana and cankama.

Lu Fang, professor of the India-China Yoga College, YMU, stressed the necessity to better research on “Yoga as a kind of lifestyle.” That’s how it can serve for the purpose of “continuously meeting people’s comprehensive needs for a better life” and “cultivating a civilized, healthy, harmonious and elegant lifestyle in the spirit of truth, goodness and beauty.”

Zhao Wen, associate professor of Nankai University, focused on the body, mind and spirit in Indian Yoga and Chinese Taoist health theory. He believed that Yoga, for example, embodies a close connection between the above-mentioned three elements and contributes to a balanced development between body and mind.

Huang Xiaoling, dean of the College of Physical Education of Southwest University, believes that exercise, body and health are more closely linked amid pandemic prevention and control. More than simple fitness methods, Tai Chi and Yoga embody the ancient Oriental wisdom of health preservation in China and India.

Bian Jing, lecturer of the China Wushu School of Beijing Sport University, noted that Tai Chi, a typical icon of traditional Chinese culture, is philosophically profound. It has absorbed much of the Confucian Doctrine of the Mean, evidenced by its center-oriented fisting, moving, and spirit.

Yue Tao, associate professor of the College of Education, Huanggang Normal University, opined that both Indian Yoga culture and that of Chinese health preservation pursue the awakening of life and the opening of the realm of wisdom beyond pure physical health.

According to Bao Bingwei, co-founder of Heckles Fitness, Yoga reflects ancient philosophical thoughts, featuring tolerance and acceptance. He said that Heckles Fitness, as the leading unit of Yunnan Fitness Service Industry Association, is willing to provide employment opportunities for graduates with a degree in Yoga to fulfill their values.

Chen Si, director of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of China, labelled the combination between Tai Chi, Wuqinxi (a traditional exercise imitating movements of five animals in China), Yoga and meditation as a wrong effort while that of Yoga meditation and Buddhist meditation, as well as that of Chinese medicine, Tai Chi, xingyi (easy Tai Chi), internal alchemy, and Chinese medicine, reflects sobriety.

Wu Zhenwei, founder of China Left & Right Pilates Training Institute, argued that pain clinics and circles of health and wellness are attaching increasing importance to exercise therapies like Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and Baduanjin (a form of qigong exercise). It is largely proven that nowadays pains in shoulders, necks, waists and legs are fundamentally related to daily static postures and the resulting imbalance in muscle tension.

Dr. Yatedra Dutt Amoli, assistant professor of DSVV, said that Yoga and Tai Chi are integrations of multiple practices and ancient wisdom. People can achieve self-identification and improve themselves in the practicing process.

Ye Qianyuan, lecturer of the School of South and Southeast Asian Languages and Cultures, YMU, emphasized that Yoga culture and traditional ecological views of the Bai ethnic group in Yunnan Province share great similarity in the basic cognition of nature and the understanding of man-nature relationship.

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 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.