Yoga fever has gripped China ahead of the third United Nations International Day of Yoga as thousands of Chinese would participate in scores of events organised across the Communist nation, which officials say will make it the second biggest celebrations of the day in the world after India.
Though yoga, which originated in India, has become immensely popular over the years in China vying with ancient indigenous physical fitness martial art form Tai Chi, it got an official sanction when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 at a joint event during the latter’s visit.
China also backed India’s move in the UN to make June 21 as International Yoga Day, giving a fillip to hundreds of yoga clubs and organisations.
Beijing’s iconic Great Wall as well as numerous parks, lakes and resorts across China have become venues for the both official and unofficial yoga events being held with active support of Chinese government bodies.
A first yoga college has come up outside India with joint collaboration of India and China in Yunnan Minzu (Nationalities) University in Kunming, which has also lined up several yoga events.
“Since UN declared yoga day June 21 has become a yoga festival day in all big and small cities in China,” said Manmohan Singh Bhandari, an Indian yoga expert who along with his Chinese wife Yin Yan runs yoga training school Yogi Yoga.
Yoga now has become a trend with people practising in parks. During this time of the year, yoga is being taught free all over China, said Bhandari who hails from Rishikesh.
His Yoga Yogi school has centres all over the country.
The Indian embassy here which has a yoga specialist Umesh Babu besides Indian Consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou are organising dozens of events which would be attended by Chinese officials.
The main event will be held at the Great Wall on June 20.
“In terms of the quality of participation of Yoga practitioners from India, the number of events at different locations in China and the expected outreach to Chinese Yoga lovers, the series of events planned for this year are poised to reach new heights,” the embassy said.
For the first time ever, the embassy, in collaboration with the Ministry of AYUSH and the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga has invited a group of 20 young Yoga ambassadors with expertise in performing advanced routines in ‘Hatha Yoga’.
These young Yoga ambassadors - 10 girls and 10 boys between 22 and 30 years of age – will capture the imagination of Chinese Yoga lovers with their dexterity and poise in demonstrating advance Yoga techniques. The young Yoga ambassadors will also enable a direct connect with the younger population in China attracted to Yoga, the embassy said in a statement.
They will also hold a special demonstration of Yoga at the Opening Ceremony of BRICS Sports Meet in Guangzhou.
Already few thousand people have taken part in the curtain raiser events Eastern China Region organised by the Indian Consulate in Shanghai.
It plans to hold 12 events in 12 cities, total estimated participants 20,000 enthusiasts.
Officials said that compared to last year participation has doubled with youngsters showing more enthusiasm.
The Indian consulate in Guangzhou is organising two big yoga festivals with Yoga Gurus from India. Other events included a five-day camp in Chengdu, India-ChinaYogaCollege, cities of Dongguan, Zhongshan and Foshan.