IAYT in the Global Community:
A Report on the China International Yoga Show and
By Veronica Zador, IAYT President
The China International Yoga Show and Conference was held from October 20-23,
2005 in Beijing, China. As an invited presenter, I was joined by presenters
from China, India, Thailand, and Australia. The conference organizers and
attendees enthusiastically supported the mission of the International
Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT). The conference highlighted the growing
international interest in Yoga therapy, and the supporting role that IAYT can
play. The conference also provided an opportunity to learn more about the state
of Yoga in China, including trends in Yoga business, teacher training, and
IAYT in the Global Community
Morning sessions were dedicated to both discussions and practices related to
various topics in Yoga, such as stress management. Afternoon sessions focused
on discussions of Yoga teacher training, the business of Yoga, and the future
of Yoga therapy. Of particular note was the interest shown in Yoga therapy,
including the applications of Yoga as a partner to traditional and 'Western'
approaches to healing. Conference discussions about Yoga research allowed me to
distribute several editions of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.
Interest in the journal was so high that participants waited in lines to view
IAYT was recognized as the international voice of Yoga therapy, and an important
supporting organization. There was interest in IAYT's ability to (1) build
community among those with similar interests in Yoga, (2) advocate on behalf of
those involved in Yoga therapy and research, and (3) broadly communicate
research in the field.
Yoga in China
Yoga classes are popular in China and are attended primarily by women between
the ages of 20-35. Entry-level classes focus on the physical aspects of
Yoga asana, although there is a growing interest in the traditional
With the growing popularity of Yoga in China, there is a growing interest in the
business of Yoga. Among the 20-something generation, being a Yoga teacher
or owning a Yoga studio carry prestige and status. A number of individuals in
China are leaving high-power positions to open Yoga studios. For example,
YogiYoga Center is a well-established Yoga studio chain, with 17 Yoga studios
in Beijing, and dozens in major cities around China. They have already formed a
second brand, Blue Lotus Yoga, which is designed to appeal to those who prefer
a more simplified form of Yoga with the same well-trained teachers, but at less
cost per class.
Teacher training programs in China include yearly visits to India to study with
the masters and to maintain the traditional teachings of the lineage. Yoga
teachers from India, such as A.G. Mohan, train Yoga teachers at YogiYoga
Center. Their teacher training programs graduate 480 students per year.
Due to government regulation and a high premium on education in general, Yoga
teachers are guaranteed an income and benefits comparable to those of academic
school teachers. Like other teachers, Yoga teachers are expected to meet high
standards of education and experience.
There are as yet no copyright or trademark laws in place for the business of
Yoga in China. There are also no supporting Yoga organizations that speak to
and for the needs of Yoga teachers and Yoga therapists in China. This
highlights the prominent position that IAYT occupies as a global community and
forum for these rapidly expanding fields in China.
Yoga Research in China
An interesting research study was conducted at the conference. Funded by a
teaching hospital, this study investigated changes in the blood chemistry
before and after asana practice. Volunteers were encouraged to have their blood
drawn and analyzed at the conference site. Mats were provided for brief asana
practices and blood was once again drawn and analyzed.
The purpose of this study, and several other ongoing studies, is to show changes
in the body that can contribute to, or reverse, what is described as the 'sub
healthy state'. This is a state in which the individual does not present
symptoms of disease, but does experience a lowered tolerance to regular
activities and impaired concentration and sleep. Yoga is widely considered to
be a catalyst for reversing the sub healthy state, similar to the various
herbal products on the market in China today.