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Nation's first yoga college set up

Updated: 2015-06-15 07:44
By Chen Liang and Li Yingqing in Kunming (China Daily)

Foundation stems from cooperation memorandum signed during Modi's May visit

China's first yoga college was established at Yunnan University of Nationalities in Kunming on Saturday, following a cooperation memorandum signed between China and India in May.

At the founding ceremony, Peng Jinhui, president of the university, said: "The university has confidence to build the college into an influential brand with its own characteristics, a platform for cultural exchange and a bridge for Sino-Indian friendship".

YUN and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations signed the cooperation memorandum during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's May visit to China.

The college will not start enrolling students until August, according to Fan Jing, director of international affairs at YUN.

Fan explained that YUN has a long-term history of cooperation and cultural exchanges with India. It is one of eight institutions in China, and the only one in Southwest China, offering Hindi as a language major.

"YUN has sent around 30 of its Hindi language students to study in India for a year since 2011," Fan said.

In 2011, they studied at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India in Gujarat state, where Modi, a yoga enthusiast, was chief minister from 2001 to 2014.

"The arrival of our students was covered by the local media, and Modi met our students at that time. So he knew our school," Fan said. "The Chinese students President Xi Jinping met during his visit to India visit last year were mainly from our school."

Over the years, YUN has established a good relationship with the consulate general of India to the point where students and teachers can obtain their Indian visas within 48 hours, Fan said.

Courses set

Yoga courses have been offered by the College of Ethnic Minority Sports at YUN for a few years. Two yoga teachers, trained in the United States, have instructed about 6,000 students in the university.

"Our experience of yoga education has also given us credit and confidence in the cooperation," Fan said.

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations will send two teachers to design the curriculum for a short-term course, defined as three to six months, and a long-term course, lasting 12 months.

There will be three classes. The elementary class will require 120 class hours to earn a certificate; the intermediate class will require 240 hours; and the advanced, 360 hours. In addition to yoga practice, there will be classes on Indian culture and philosophy.

All students who enroll at the college will have the chance to study at the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga in India, and those who qualify will be granted international yoga training certificates. "Students can also apply for scholarships from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations," Fan said.

With China still lacking an accepted yoga standard, the Indian teachers will help standardize yoga techniques, Fan said.

"If a standard curriculum is set up, and our diploma becomes recognized by our education authorities, we could start enrolling high school graduates," she said.

Contact the writer at chenliang@chinadaily.com.cn and liyingqing@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 06/15/2015 page5)

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