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Yoga in tai chi land

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2015-06-26 07:28

She had a lumbar muscle strain after giving birth to her child several years ago. The pain was relieved after massage and acupuncture but didn't vanish. That's when she started to practice yoga again, about four times a week, and gradually recovered fully.

"Many Chinese think yoga is for women, but in Western countries, the sex ratio of yoga students is about half and half," says Liu Feng, a male yoga teacher and founder of Shanghai-based Yoga in China, a Chinese social-media platform.

"It's a bit awkward for men to take classes with so many women. Also, men like to show off their advantages in front of women. But in yoga classes, they can't do so because their flexibility is not as good as women's."

Liu Feng says yoga centers could include comparatively masculine yoga postures, such as the headstand, in their schedules and hold exclusive classes for men.

According to Liu Feng, while yoga may have been become popular in China owing to Western followers of the regimen, getting to learn about its traditional evolution from Indian gurus gives students a different perspective.

Zarthoshtimanesh first visited China to teach yoga in 2006.

He says because China is relatively new to yoga, people still have the opportunity to learn the real thing instead of many modern-day improvisations.

Dujiangyan, considered a birthplace of Taoism, is also famous for tai chi.

"Both philosophies of tai chi and yoga are used to realize the full potential of human beings, with different approaches," Zarthoshtimanesh says.

According to him, there are many cultural similarities between China and India.

For example, both the Taoist greeting and the Indian namaskar use the gesture of open palms pressed against each other.

"I notice that how we pass knowledge from a teacher to a student is the same in yoga and tai chi. Both need ample concentration, with some similarities of movement," says yoga master Sharath Jois, 44.

Born to a family full of yoga practitioners, Jois learned his first asana at the age of 7.

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